Community Supported Agriculture options in the area have expanded in the last few years. The Land Connection, Urbana Business Association, and City of Urbana joined together to sponsor this year’s Second Annual CSA Fair. It was one-stop shopping for 2016 CSAs. For those of you unable to attend last night’s event or need some more information, I’ve put together a quick guide. For additional information, check out the City of Urbana’s webpage

What is Community Supported Agriculture?

The City of Urbana explains it well here:

With the CSA method of doing business, farms are the businesses operating CSAs. These farms offer fresh food products through annual subscriptions, or a flat fee, that a customer pays for up front once a year in exchange for a portion of those farmers’ products. The products are then delivered weekly or monthly to a central pick up location or made available for pick up at Urbana-Champaign farmers markets.

It’s like a subscription service, in which you pay a set amount, and you get some sort of food in exchange. Depending on which farm you select, you’ll get different items. Some CSAs offer just produce, some just grains, some just meat, or some a combination. You might, for instance, receive some tomatoes, lettuces, onions, and peppers, all in a box, ready for you to take home and enjoy. Note that whole shares probably feed a family of 3 to 4, and half shares are likely to feed 1 to 2 people. Generally. Mostly. Depending. Each CSA is different in length (20 weeks to 24 weeks, most begin late May or early June) and in pick up location and time (some of which is not yet confirmed). Some are weekly, some are every other week. 

Some things to consider: How much do you want? How many people will be enjoying the bounty? Are you in town to pick up your CSA regularly (that is, are you going to be out of town for 18 of the 24 weeks)? Can you pick up on the assigned day? Do you want meat and eggs? What about bread and cheese? Honey? What’s your budget?

I’ve organized by product, more or less, for quick reference if you already know what you might want, but many farms have partnered up and offer a combination of produce and meat, or produce and bread, or something similar. Almost all CSA goods are organic, hormone and antibiotic free, non-GMO. Double check with each farm for specifics, though.

Produce

Blue Moon Farm: Custom CSA allows you to go online and select the items you want. You pay for what you order, when you pick it up. You’re creating your own CSA box. Pick up is from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the food court of Lincoln Square Mall. Get on the mailing list to order here

Brackett Farm: This CSA is 24 weeks (May 24th through November 1st). Shares are $500 ($21/week), and pick up will be Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Mr. Brackett’s home in Champaign. For more info, or to sign up, visit the farm’s website

Cooperative Restoration CSA: A collaborative with Prairie Greens Permaculture (Prairie Green, IL) and Green Island Farm Collective (Urbana). The CSA is 20 weeks (June 4th through October 1st), and is $350 ($17.50/week). Shares include veggies, herbs, fruits, and mushrooms.

Legacy of the Land: A group of family owned farms in McLean and Livingston counties makes up this group (Bloomington-Normal area). Shares are five to eight items of produce, once per week for 22 weeks, for $450. (About $21 per week.) Pick up will be Tuesdays at the Champaign Farmers Market. There are also options to add eggs ($110), as well as whole chickens, fruit, and bread ($220).

What’s interesting about Legacy of the Land is the delivery option: if you and 19 of your closest coworkers, classmates, or gym buddies sign up too, they will bring your shares to you. In fact, you could even get a free share if you’re willing to be the on-site coordinator. For more information, email info@legacyoftheland.com. I wonder if this would work for neighborhoods…

PrairiErth Farm: Bloomington/Atlanta, Illinois-based PrairiErth has been selling produce at Common Ground and Strawberry Fields for some time, but this is the first year it will open CSA shares to Champaign-Urbana. Shares are $475 for 24 weeks of produce ($20 per week, about 5-8 different varieties per share). Pick ups will be each Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Champaign Farmers Market. Check out its website for more details. 

Sola Gratia Farm: This mission-based farm is the endeavor of St. Matthew Lutheran Church and Faith in Place. The farm offers a whole and a half share; it’s a 24 week CSA. Prices will go up on January 1st, so if you’re choosing Sola Gratia, do so now. Your share purchase is also tax deductible. Full share prices: early bird, $550 ($23/week); after January 1st, $575 ($24/week). Half share prices: early bird, $300 ($12.50/week); after January 1st, $315 ($13/week). Pick up will be weekly at the farm in Urbana. For more info, visit the farm’s website

Tomahnous Farm: This Mahomet-based farm not only offers a produce CSA for 24 weeks ($400 for a whole share [$17/week]; $220 for a half share [$9/week]), but also eggs ($125 per share) and flowers ($100 for 21 weeks). Oh, and you can reserve a goat kid (alive or ready for eating cooking, $1.95 per live weight pound). Pick up can be at Tomahnous Farm, or at a location in C-U. Last year's CSA season was 24 weeks, and that's likely to be the same this year. For the CSA agreement and other information, check out the farm’s website and/or email tomahnousfarm@yahoo.com.

Meat

Bane Family Meats: There are options for large CSA shares of 10 or 20 pounds of different meat. That’s a lot of meat. For those details, call Dave Bane at 217-722-2188, or email davidpbane@aol.com. Bane Family Meats has partnered with Prairie Fruits Farm also offers a smaller package for 6 months (13 pick ups): for $252 ($19.50 each time), you’ll get 2 pounds of ground beef, a 4 pound chicken, and one dozen eggs. Pick up will be every two weeks at Prairie Fruits Farm in Champaign. You can sign up on the PFF website

Moore Family Farm: Winter Meat & Egg Delivery This is not a summertime CSA program; it’s only for January through April. Moore Family Farm doesn’t hook you with a membership fee. Basically, you call the farm, ask for Diann, place your order and then pick it up between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on the second Saturday of the month (cash and check only). Here are the dates:

Order before January 4th; pick up January 9th
Order before February 8th; pick up February 13th
Order before March 7th; pick up March 12th
Order before April 4th; pick up April 9th

Call 815-432-6238 to place your order. Ask for Diann, or leave a message clearly stating your name and phone number and that you want to place an order for the Urbana delivery, and she’ll call you back.

Old Dixie Pastures: The Traditional CSA includes pork, lamb, rabbit, and poultry cuts. For four months, 20 pounds of meat is $820, 10 pounds is $410. The Pork and Poultry CSA includes only pork and poultry cuts. For four months, 20 pounds if $725, 10 pounds is $363. For more information, email olddixiepastures@gmail.com, or call 618-559-9186. 

Triple S Farms: For this CSA—called the Buyer’s Club—you’ll need to become a member. Memberships are $40, and you’ll get invited to exclusive events and receive at 15% discount on all items. You can order for a monthly pick up, or buy items at the market (with your discount). 

Cheese

Prairie Fruits Farm: The heading should be cheese AND gelato, because those are options. Who doesn’t want to collect gelato every other week (total 13 pick ups)? I do, that’s for sure. Cheese ($8 per piece) and gelato ($10 per piece) shares are sold by the amount you want:
One cheese per pick up: $104
Two cheese pieces: $208
Three cheese pieces: $312
Four cheese pieces: $416
One pint gelato: $130
Two pints gelato: $260

Sign up here

Grains

Quality Organic: Only in the Winter/Spring, in January, February, and March. You’ll get five pounds of grain (wheat, cornmeal, wheat pastry flour, oats, popcorn, buckwheat, wheat berries) each time for only $45. Sign up here

Flowers (non-edible)

Delight Flower Farm: Ten weeks of flowers are $180, if you sign up by December 31st. If you sign up by May 15th, the cost is $200. You can find more information here, or email delightCSA@gmail.com to enroll. Delight Flower Farm is partnered with Prairie Fruits Farm, and you can sign up for that CSA share (5 pick ups, $100) on the PFF website. Delight Flower Farm will be in the incubator space at the farm, so look for that this spring and summer. It’s sure to be gorgeous. 

Illinois Willows: For $300, you’ll get 11 weeks of bouquets (every other week, June 4th through October 15th).

Other

Bent Bean: This chocolate is make locally. There isn’t a true CSA here, but you can get a punch card for free chocolates, as well as customizable labels and special orders. Visit Bent Bean’s store in Lincoln Square Mall.

All photos by Jessica Hammie; CSA poster from City of Urbana's Facebook page.