As spring ebbs away and you start to think of vacation, consider something else worth planning for: summer produce. The region’s farms and gardens will soon be teeming with cucumbers, tomatoes, snap peas, berries, peaches, sweet corn, and more. And the best way to get it on a regular basis might be by joining a CSA.
If you’re not familiar, a CSA (short for community-supported agriculture) typically entails paying for weekly shares from a farm for the whole season, providing the farmer some financial stability and the customer fresh, in-season produce. It’s a decades-old agricultural model that has flourished even more during the pandemic.
Many programs are flexible, with various pickup locations and the ability to tailor your share to individual preferences. Some farms also offer additional subscriptions for fresh eggs, fruit, cheese, or meat.
Many small farm CSAs have already sold out for the summer season. Thankfully, plenty are still accepting subscribers. Here are 10 area CSAs, plus four specialty CSAs (think fresh flowers, fruit, cheese, and mushrooms), to consider for summer 2021.
Pickups in Philadelphia and beyond
This Newtown Square-based farm has an ambitious CSA program with add-on subscriptions for Ursa Bakery bread, Birchrun Hills Farm and Valley Milkhouse cheese, Mycopolitan Mushrooms, Horse Shoe Ranch chicken and eggs, and more. That’s not to mention the 10-plus pounds of produce you’ll get with each share of the 25-week season. As a bonus, Urban Roots donates a year of veggies to families in need with every 10 new sign-ups.
$40 a week for weekly pickups from June through December; discounts and payment plans available. Pickup locations in Fairmount, Northern Liberties, West Philly, Newtown Square, Ardmore, and Bryn Mawr. Some home delivery available. Sign up at urbanrootsfarm.grazecart.com.
This organic husband-and-wife-run farm in Berks County lets you tailor your vegetable share size to your needs, reducing the chance of wasted produce. Choose small if you only cook one or two meals a week, medium for three or four meals, and large if you’re feeding your family most nights. Members can also opt into egg, fruit, coffee, cheese, mushroom, and herb shares.
$20-$35 per share for a 23-week season from June to November. Several pickup locations, including Ambler, Conshohocken, Merion Station, Collingswood, and 11 sites in Philadelphia. Sign up at taprootfarmpa.com.
If you find the idea of using up several pounds of produce in a week intimidating or you worry about being hemmed in by a weekly delivery, but you’d still like to support a local farm, this small Berks County farm’s Garden Stake CSA might be a good choice. Make a one-time payment and you’ll get shopping credit (plus a bonus) toward its stall at the Head House Square Sunday market or the Frankford Transportation Center’s Tuesday market. Members can also preorder online.
$100, $300, or $500 for Root Mass’ farmers market season, which runs early May through November. Sign up at rootmassfarm.com.
One of the most robust CSA programs in the region, with pickup locations from Harrisburg to South Jersey, D.C. to New York, and everywhere in between, this nonprofit cooperative sources products from over 100 family farms in Lancaster County. That means it has capacity for many members, and you can customize your share Summer 2021 subscription. Options include produce, fruit, eggs, bread (gluten-free optional), cheese, herbs, and meat.
$60-$1,000 for weekly and biweekly shares from May through October. Pickup locations throughout Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania and New Jersey suburbs, including Pennsauken, Haddonfield, and Cherry Hill. Sign up at lancasterfarmfresh.com.
Pickups in the Pa. suburbs
Germantown native Christa Barfield’s farming project launched a CSA last year. Members will receive eight to 10 items each week, which might be vegetables, fruits, herbs, tea, as well as locally made goods (such as home and body products). This year, most of the produce will come from FarmerJawn’s own land and greenhouses, based in Northwest Philly and Elkins Park.
$400 for a 12-week share from May to July. Pickup locations are still being determined but will be in the Elkins Park area. Sign up at farmerjawnphilly.com.
This six-acre farm in Delaware County is owned by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia and operated by a small, woman-led team of members and volunteers. Though its shares aren’t as customizable as some competitors’, members have regular access to the pick-your-own garden, a children’s garden (complete with activities), and events like plant sales, farm-to-table dinners, and a harvest festival.
$775 for a 24-week season from June to November. Pick up at Red Hill Farm, 609 Convent Rd., Aston. Sign up at osfphila.org/red-hill-farm.
This Bucks County farm hosts its own pickup site, so members can connect with the land the food comes from and get a fuller glimpse of their growers. Moreover, a full Blooming Glen veggie share comes with a pick-your-own flower share (worth $180) for 10 weeks out of the 24-week season. Cheese, mushroom, egg, coffee, fruit, ice cream, and herbal cocktail kit add-ons are available.
$516-$960 for full or half (biweekly) shares from May to November. Pick up at Blooming Glen Farm, 98 Moyer Rd., Perkasie on Tuesdays or Thursdays. Sign up at bloomingglenfarm.com.
This 37-acre woman-owned operation in Chester County has been CSA-driven for more than 20 years. Because it’s both a farm and an orchard, members can expect summer vegetables (sweet corn, potatoes, tomatoes) and fruit (watermelons, cantaloupe, peaches). CSA shares also come with access to some pick-your-own crops, such as peas, fresh flowers, herbs, and berries. You can also add an egg share.
$379-$865 for a 22-week season from June to November. Pickup locations in Downingtown, Narberth, West Chester, and at Vollmecke Farm, 155 Cedar Knoll Rd., Coatesville. Sign up at csachestercounty.com.
Pickups in South Jersey
This 40-year-old Salem County farm has had time to perfect its CSA; you can rate produce through the digital farming platform Harvie, and your share will be customized based on your preferences. Don’t like beets? You won’t get ‘em. Choose from a full or half share, and add on eggs or mushrooms if you like. Members are also invited to the farm’s spring open house and fall pumpkin pick.
$15-$28 a week for a half or full share, respectively, for a 20-week season from May to September. Pickup sites in Collingswood, Mullica Hill, and at A.T. Buzby Farm, 21 Black Rd., Woodstown. Some home delivery available. Sign up at buzbyfarm.com.
If you’re staying down the Shore this summer, consider this Egg Harbor City-based farm. Choose a small, medium, or large share, much of which is customizable. Members can also fill up their own box with flowers, herbs, cherry tomatoes, and green beans straight from the field, and get a discount on pick-your-own events come berry season.
$280-$630 for a 20-week share from May to October. Payment plans available. Pick up at Walking Bird Farm, 250 S. Mannheim Ave., Egg Harbor City. Sign up at walkingbirdfarm.csaware.com.
Kennett Square may overshadow New Jersey’s mushroom-growing reputation, but this family-run farm near Vineland is not deterred. They offer gray and golden oyster mushrooms, shiitakes and lions mane, as well as maitakes, chestnuts, and pioppino; they also forage for wild varieties like morels and chanterelles. This year-round CSA also has a flexible credit option to let you shop Garden State Mushrooms’ selection at the Wenonah or Brigantine farmers’ markets. Add-ons include microgreens, mushroom grow bags, hot sauce, vegetables, and mushroom sauce.
$192.50-$350 for 7 shares of either 2½ or 5 pounds each. Home deliveries to North and South Jersey and Philadelphia. Pickups at the Wenonah farmers market and Garden State Mushrooms’ farm at 1019 Tuckahoe Rd., Milmay, Atlantic County. Sign up at gardenstatemushrooms.com.
Few things beat ripe, in-season local fruit, and this CSA delivers just that. From August through October, the Cochranville, Chester County-based orchard supplies CSA subscribers with homegrown pears, apples, peaches, and nectarines in varieties you won’t find at the grocery store (think Winecrisp apples and Glowing Star peaches). Members receive 7-8 pounds of fresh fruit (”a balanced mix … rather than just 8 pounds of peaches all at once!”) per pickup.
$200 for 8 alternating weekly shares or $350 for 15 weekly shares. Pickup from one of 18 locations, including West Chester, Horsham, Downingtown, and Havertown. Sign up at northstarorchard.com.
Who wouldn’t like fresh flowers every week? This Kensington-based farm will supply your vase with an arrangement of 15-20 seasonal blooms per week. Its monthly flower shares run January through October, or opt for extended plan. (Some dried flowers may be mixed in during the fall — don’t worry; they’ll still be beautiful.)
$130 for pickup or $162 for delivery per month between May and October; $260 for bi-weekly pickups from July to October. Pickup locations in Center City, South Philly, Kensington, Fairmount, and Collingswood. Delivery available in many Philadelphia ZIP codes. Sign up at jig-bee.com.
Is a cheese subscription the only thing better than a flower share? Possibly. This woman-run collective from Birchrun Hills’ Sue Miller, Valley Milkhouse’s Stefanie Angstadt, and Philly food writer (and sometimes Inquirer contributor) Alexandra Jones will keep you stocked with quality local cheese until fall. A monthly share contains four varieties of cheese (6-8 ounces per piece).