Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is one great way to support your local farmers and eat locally grown produce, locally grown protein, and other food. CSA helps farms stay afloat during leaner times in exchange for weeks of whatever they’re harvesting.
CSA functions like this: you pay a set amount of money before the season starts, and then each week over the course of the growing season (late-May through October, though some are year-round), you will receive a set amount of product. Some of the CSAs below offer small and large options. Generally, the smaller options feed one or two people, whereas the larger ones feed three or four.
Obviously, if you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or veggie lover, a smaller share won't be enough for one. You’ll have to consider your actual (and perhaps ideal) weekly produce consumption when signing up. If you’re not quite sure about what to order, reach out to the producer you’re interested in supporting; they will be able to answer your questions. Worried about missing a week or two while away on vacation? You could have a friend take your share for that week, or contact your farmer to make other arrangements.
Last summer, there was a huge increase in joining local CSA, and this year, many of those supporters are continuing. Spots are limited, so sign up soon if you want to participate this season.
Photo by Blue Moon Farm.
Blue Moon Farm
Blue Moon Farm grows vibrant produce like tomatoes, eggplant, squash, turnips, carrots, and more — and has been growing at their location in Urbana since 1998. If you're dying for fresh produce right now, you can sign up for the Winter-Spring 2021 share which starts the week of March 21st and goes through April 24th with winter veg like carrots, radishes, cabbage as well as spinach and kale. Full share is $20, and a small is $14.
The most popular is the Summer Share which runs from May 23rd to November 6th with seasonal items like carrots, salad mix, onions, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, and kale. Veggie lovers share is $35, full is $20, and small is $14.50, each with the option for weekly produce or every other week. Summer Peak Share runs from July 4th to October 16th and includes the peak of Blue Moon Farm's summer harvest with items like peppers, squash, salad, tomatoes, and more. There are options for veggie lovers ($35), full ($20), and small ($14) with options for weekly or every other week.
The final option is the Fall Share which includes the final summer harvests as well as winter veg and high tunnel harvests like kale, collards, chard, spinach, salad greens, potatoes, carrots, beets, and misato radishes. This runs from the week of November 7th to December 18th.
You can sign up for your Blue Moon CSA here.
Bob Brackett of Brackett Farm has been growing produce since 1980, but he started his own CSA in 2000. Brackett’s CSA offers a wide variety of organic fruits and vegetables. His pick up system is unique: instead of picking up a box, you show up during the allotted time and you can bag/box your own stuff. He’ll often offer options — say, kale or pak choy — so you can choose what you prefer.
He said last year was a big boost of CSA for Brackett Farm, growing from 45 to 75 people, which he attributes to the pandemic. Brackett said, "I try to provide as much variety as I can. To some, that's not enough. For others, that's too much...[but] there are shares available. The more the merrier." Download the CSA contract here, and mail or deliver it with your first installment payment to 611 W Union Street in Champaign. Check out more Bracket Farm CSA information here.
Hendrick House Farm
For the Hendrick House Farm CSA, members pay an upfront cost for weekly or every other week fresh, boxed vegetables over a 20 week period, from June to October, during the peak farm season. Hendrick House Farm grows celebrity tomatoes, purple cauliflower, chioggia beets, purple haze carrots, kale, bolero carrots, romaine lettuce, spinach, and Cherokee red lettuce.
There are four sizes of shares available, ranging from single household shares to full family shares. Take a look at what they're growing and see photos of the farm on their website. Sign ups have closed as all 2021 shares have been sold, but if you have questions or interest in joining the waitlist for 2022, you can email Hendrick House Farm.
Flyaway Family Farm
If you like mushrooms, this CSA is for you. You can buy one pound shares of locally grown mushrooms from Flyaway Family Farm. One option is the chef's mix ($15) which contains at least three different mushroom varieties, and varieties can change from week to week depending on availability. If you have a favorite mushroom and want to see only that weekly, you can sign up for chesnut mushroom, lion's mane mushroom, oyster mushroom, shiitake mushroom, or shimofuri hiratake (black pearl king) mushroom shares. There are options for quarter pound or half pound.
Order your mushroom share here by scrolling down to the mushrooms under the heading "Shares."
Joy of Illinois
For a quarter century, Joy of Illinois has sold milk and eggs through CSA-style shares, which remains the backbone of the farm. Last year, Joy of Illinois opened a dedicated sales area for customers after they pull into the north driveway during open hours to pick up farm products. You can order shares of unuprocessed goat milk and free-range chicken eggs, in a full shares, partial shares, or the occasional pint of milk or dozen of eggs. In addition, if you're looking to buy a live animal, Joy of Illinois sells live ducks, lamb, goats, and guinea hogs.
Red Crib Acres
Red Crib Acres is an apple orchard, and the produce you receive will be (you guessed it) apples. A full share will get you 20 pecks of apples over 10 weeks, and a half share will be 10 pecks of apples over 10 weeks. Red Crib Acres will have shares available this season, but they aren't doing sign ups until later.
Look for Red Crib Acres' CSA sign up in mid-April, or you can email the farm for more info.
Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Sola Gratia Farm
Sola Gratia Farm grows 150 varieties of over 50 different crops following organic growing methods. There are CSA shares available for the upcoming summer season, but the spring and fall shares have already sold out. Members of Sola Gratia Farm's CSA will receive fresh, seasonal vegetables from the farm weekly during the growing season.
The summer share runs for 20 weeks from mid-June to October. Full shares will have nine to eleven items weekly for $700, and partial shares with five to seven items weekly cost $420. If you choose to have your Sola Gratia produce delivered, it is $150 for weekly delivery throughout the summer season.
Produce is distributed each week at the farm. Pickups are either on Tuesdays at the Champaign Farmers' Market between 3 and 6 p.m., on Thursdays at the farm in Urbana from 3 to 6 p.m., or delivered to your house for an extra fee.
There are also add-on shares available:
- bread share from Rick's Bakery which is $100 for 20 weeks
- mushroom share from Flyaway Family Farm for $200 for 20 weeks
- coffee share from Luna Verde which costs $250 for 20 weeks
- flower share from Delight Flower Farm for $200 for 10 weeks, $300 for 15 weeks
Meat and Eggs CSA
Photo from Triple S Farms Facebook page.
Triple S Farms
Located in Stewardson, Illinois, Triple S Farms offers a buying club that you can join anytime. They do deliveries in the C-U area every week and sell at the Farmers' Market on Saturdays. It is a very user-friendly, customizable ordering process. Members order whenever they want and can choose from anything in stock on the website. Currently, you can find pork loin, beef sticks, bratwurst, whole chickens, molasses bacon, beef patties, beef cheeks, turkey broth, chicken gizzards, burnt ends, ox tail, steak, ground beef, liver, bones, and more.
Bane Family Meats
This meat and egg CSA is available year-round and can start at any time. Payment is due in full by cash or check at the delivery of the first share. The options for meat shares are in five pound, 10 pound, and 20 pound monthly meat and poultry packs. You can choose between a six month or 12 month commitment.
Monthly deliveries will include beef, chicken, pork, lamb, and turkey — and the bundles will vary monthly. Five pounds a month for six months is $297; 10 pounds a month is $528, and 20 pounds of meat a month is $985. If you're wanting a 12 month share, you can get five pounds a month for $582, 10 pounds for $1,020, and 20 pounds costing $1,845. Pasture-raised eggs from their farm can also be added for $5 per dozen, available monthly.
Shares can be picked up at the farm or delivered (for free) to your home or business. For more information, call 217-722-2188 or email David.
Not CSA but subscription offers
Berries & Flour offers a subscription for baked goods once a month. Each month features a speciality cake flavor available in a dozen cupcakes or a six inch round cake for $27. You can choose from four cake types and select the date and time for your pick up or delivery. Sign up here.
Red Herring Meal Club has a customizable vegan home delivery option that you can sign up for weekly, monthly, or just one time if you don't want to commit. Sara reviewed the Meal Club last week. You can order bulk foods like granola, falafel, hummus, take-and-bake biscuits, dressings, and more. There are also options for heat-at-home meals, grain bowls, salads, wraps, and desserts.
The WheelHouse in St. Joe recently began a subscription service called We Locavore delivering meals made from ingredients sourced from a local farm cooperative. The menu offers a selection of chef-prepared entrees that can be picked up or delivered to your front door. If you subscribe to weekly or bi-weekly (every other week) meal delivery, then you will receive four meals for $60. If you try the service without subscription, the cost is $75 for four entrees. There is an option to add wine as well. Orders are due by Wednesday, and you can pick up your order or have it delivered Thursday or Friday. You can sign up for this subscription here.
Illinois Willows offers a local, fresh cut flower Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) where you can receive a large, farm-fresh bouquet every other week from June 5th to October 23rd. 11 weeks of beautiful flowers for $300.