For the third year in a row, The Land Connection and Urbana’s Market at the Square have joined together to sponsor the CSA Fair. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it’s a way for customers to interact directly with a local farmer, support local farmers and the economy, and know exactly where their food is coming from. Farms are the business people operating the CSAs and they offer subscriptions for customers to purchase up front in exchange for fresh, local produce throughout the season. Products are then delivered weekly or monthly directly to you or made available at various pick-up locations in Champaign-Urbana. Keep in mind there is still plenty of shopping to be done at our local farmers markets! But, by participating in a CSA, one of the ways you’ll be helping your local farmer is in paying for your shares before the season begins you’re helping to offset costs the farmer incurs in preparing for the season.

Each farmer does a great job of breaking down details of their shares to help customers make an informed decision as to which share is right for them. Summers can be a busy time of year for most people. If you’re worried about being able to pick up your share on the assigned day most farmers work with you in that aspect as well by offering delivery options, pauses in your subscription, or allowing friends and family to pick it up for you.

For those of you who were unable to attend last Friday night’s event or need some more information, I’ve put together a quick guide, organized by product, to help you decide which CSA is right for you. For additional information, contact information has been provided for each farm. 

PRODUCE

Brackett Farm

Bob Brackett has been growing produce by the organic method in Champaign-Urbana since 1980. Each year the farm produces over 40+ tasty and nutritious fruits and vegetables. From rhubarb to apples to broccoli and more, you can expect to receive 5-12 of these each week depending on what is in season. Check out the website to see photos of the types of produce you can expect as it becomes available each month. The season runs from Tuesday, May 30 through Tuesday November 7, 2017. For a 24 week season the total share cost is $480 plus a $20 administration fee ($20/week). The total $500 should be paid before first pick-up. Pick-ups will be on Tuesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Brackett residence in Champaign. For more info visit the farm's website or email Brackett-CSA@comcast.net 

Blue Moon Farms

Another long standing local farm, Blue Moon Farms owns 20 acres where they practice organic methods of growing beautiful, high quality produce. Their season runs from May 31st until November 1st. For a 22 week season the total share cost is $415 ($18/week) and you can expect 5-6 different veggies each week. You have the option of paying a deposit online ($105 with remaining due at first pick-up) or paying for the full share up front. There is a 4% discount if you pay with a check ($400). Pick-ups are Wednesdays from 5 to 6 p.m. with one location in Urbana and one in Champaign. Blue Moon Farms is a part of CU Farmers. For more information, and to sign up, visit CU Farmers website.

(Pssst, you can also find many of their (and others listed) products at Common Ground Food Co-op!)

Sola Gratia Farms

This 4 acre community farm uses sustainable farming practices to produce high quality, locally-grown produce. Each year the farm donates at least ten percent of its produce to local hunger abatement programs in East Central Illinois. If you are interested in donating, shares can also be purchased for donation to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank. Full shares (3-4 people) and partial shares (1-2 people) are both offered for the 24 week growing season. Full shares are priced at $575 ($24/week). Partial shares are $315 ($13/week). Note that prices do go up after April 1st (if share are still available) to $600 and $330. Be the early bird and reserve yours now; the shares are selling fast!  Pick-ups are at the farm on Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. A delivery option is available for $100 for the full 24 week season. There’s also an option for a bread add-on from Rick’s Bakery: $100 for 24 weeks. There will be different types of loaves (whole wheat, rye, French bread, etc.) available for you to choose one of each week at the pick-up location. For more information visit their website or email solagratiacsa@gmail.com 

PROTIEN 

Bane Family Meats

All livestock is grown free range at the Bane family farm located just fourteen miles southeast of Urbana. Lamb, chicken, eggs, beef, turkey, and pork are all available to choose from and offered in an assortment of different packages. Options include 5, 10, or 20lbs of meat and poultry each month for 6 or 12 month shares. Pasture-raised eggs can be added for $5 a dozen/per month.

6 month share prices are as follows: 5lbs- $252 ($42/mo), 10lbs- $454 ($75/mo), 20lbs- $845 ($140/mo).

12 month share prices are as follows: 5lbs- $504 ($42/mo), 10lbs- $875 ($73/mo), 20lbs- $1575 ($131/mo).

Shares can be picked up at the farm (near Sidney, IL) or free delivery to your home or business.

Bane Family Meats has also partnered with Prairie Fruits Farm also offers a smaller package for 6 months (once per month, May through October) at $271 ($45/mo). You’ll get one 4lb Freedom Ranger chicken, 2lbs grass fed ground beef, and 1 dozen pasture-raised eggs. If you would like a different (customized) meat share, contact David at davidpbane@aol.com This order, in combination with Prairie Fruits Farm cheese and/or gelato share can be purchased online here. Pick up for this will be every two weeks at Prairie Fruits Farm in Champaign.

Side note: Bane Family Meats has also working with Lucky Pierre Bakers to make dog treats! Treat “flavors” vary as they are made with various bits of pork or chicken parts that can often can go to waste. I was lucky enough to be able to try “This Little Piggy” treats and my picky pups absolutely love them! 

Joy of Illinois Farm

This direct sales small farm located in Champaign has been in business for over 20 years. The Gioja family raise and sell live goats, chickens, lambs, guinea hog pigs, and ducks. Goat milk and eggs are sold as full or half season shares. You can order multiple shares.

Goat milk (1qt/week)
Full Season Share - March 18 to November 18 (36 weeks) $168 (approx. $4.65/week)
Half Season Share – March 18 to July 15 (18 weeks) $88 (approx. $4.88/week)

Eggs (1 dozen/week)
Full Season Share – March 11 to November 11 (36 weeks) $179 (approx. $5/week)
Half Season Share – March 11 to July 8 (18 weeks) $92 (approx. $5/week)

For more information email joyofillinois@yahoo.com or call 217-863-2758

Triple S Farms

This Family-owned and operated farm was established in 1980 and specializes in organically grown meats: pork, beef, free range chicken, and (seasonal) free range turkey. 

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 online for a monthly pick up, or buy items at the market or Common Ground Food Co-op (with your discount). Check out their website for more info, recipes, and orders. I tried a sample of their pork carnitas and it was out of this world!

Sitka Salmon Shares

Sitka Salmon Shares is a Community Supported Fishery named for Sitka, Alaska where a small group of Midwesterners traveled to, first, out of curiosity which then bloomed into a successful boat-to-doorstep seafood company. You can enroll in 3, 7, or 9 month intervals where each share includes a specific collection of the numerous species they harvest. Each of the monthly packages are then broken down by three types of shares: regular (weekly meals for 2-3), family (weekly meals for 4-6), and neighborhood (weekly meals for 6-9).

3 month Sitka Salmon Share (August-October [Enroll by July 15])
Regular share- Approx. 15lbs. $99/mo. ($297 total)
Family share- Approx. 30lbs. $195/mo. ($585 total)
Neighborhood share- Approx. 45lbs. $290/mo. ($870)

3 month Summer Seafood Sampler (June-August [Enroll by May 15])
Regular share- Approx. 15lbs. $79 ($237 total)
Family share- Approx. 30lbs. $153 ($459)
Neighborhood share- Approx. 45lbs. $222/mo. ($666 total)

7 month Sitka Seafood Sampler (May-November [Enroll by April 15])
Regular share- Approx. 34lbs $99/mo. ($693 total)
Family share- Approx. 68lbs. $195/mo. ($1365 total)
Neighborhood share- Approx. 102lbs. $290/mo. ($2030 total)

9 month Premium Seafood Share (April-December [Enroll by March 15])
Regular share- Approx. 42lbs. $109/mo. ($981 total)
Family share- Approx. 84lbs. $215/mo. ($1935 total)
Neighborhood share- Approx. 126lbs. $321/mo. ($2889 total)

Note that the earliest deadline for enrollment (9 month share) is March 15. For more information, recipes, and orders visit Sitka's website here.
 
CHEESE

Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery

Do you love cheese and gelato? Then check out what Illinois’ first farmstead creamery has to offer for their CSA shares. Their CSA season runs from mid-May through the end of October. A cheese share offers four options of cheese quantities (1-4 pieces roughly valued at $8 each) as well as 6-9 types of farmstead goat cheeses. A week prior to pick up weeks, you can select the cheeses you want to receive. The shares are sold by the quantity you want and multiplied by 13 pick-up dates (occurs every two weeks at two locations in Champaign).

Option A: One piece per pickup ($104.00)
Option B: Two pieces per pickup ($208.00)
Option C: Three pieces per pick up ($312.00)
Option D: Four pieces per pickup ($416.00)

Check out the PFF website for descriptions of all their cheeses. A few of my personal favorites are Moonglo, Black Goat, and any of their chevres.

Goat milk gelato and non-dairy sorbetto are both sold in pints.

Option A: 1 pint per pickup ($130.00)
Option B: 2 pints per pickup ($260.00)

As mentioned above, they have partnered with Bane Family Meats as part of CU Farmers (a multi-farmer online market). This includes Blue Moon Farm as well. There’s also a lot of other perks to getting a CSA with Prairie Fruits Farm so check out their webpage for more details!

MEAL DELIVERY SERVICE

Piato’s Organic Food Nanny

With a restaurant in Urbana and a food truck that is spotted at various events and location around C-U, Piato Café is definitely a local favorite. But if you haven’t check out their Food Nanny service, I encourage you to do so. The same great flavors and quality you’ve come to expect from dining at the restaurant can now be delivered straight to your door. Perfect for those busy weeks or for those who just don't like to cook, membership is available on a month-to-month basis with one share totaling $30 (plus tax) a week. This $30 will provide you two meals (one lighter lunch style and the other a generous dinner meal). Deliveries are every Tuesday between 2 and 6 p.m. A 10% discount is available for those who would like to pick up their meals at Piato. Piato uses many of the local farms listed here for their ingredients. Just heat and serve! Call 217-344-9025 or email info@piatocafe.com

FLOWERS (NON-EDIBLE)

Illinois Willows

Located just a short drive from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois Willows is a specialty cut flower grower. Every other week you’ll receive a large, farm fresh bouquet from June 4 to October 22 (11 weeks). A full share is $300 (roughly $27 per week). Just bring back your empty vase each time you pick up a new, fresh bouquet!

Delight Flower Farm

With the season beginning roughly around June, they offer a 10 or 15 week share. $200 for 10 weeks (+$50 if you want delivery) and $300 for 15 weeks (+$75 for delivery). Your beautiful flower bundle, arranged with care, can be picked up at Prairie Fruits Farm (time/day TBD). For more information call 630-272-6447 or email delightcsa@gmail.com

Old Town Flowers

Tucked in an old town neighborhood in Champaign, Joan grows beautiful farm-fresh flowers straight from her own backyard. She offers two types of subscriptions. A Bouquet Subscription is just $80 for 4 weeks and available June through September. Choose which month works best for you and then pick up your bouquet on Tuesdays at the Champaign farmers market. For an Arrangement Subscription you have your choice of a small bouquet ($20/week), medium ($40/week), or large ($60/week). Then just pick your month(s) and your arrangement will be delivered right to your door. A Flower Crown Workshop for adults and kids will be offered May 13/14. Check out the details on her website.