You may have heard the term “CSA” or “community-supported agriculture” pop up a lot recently. As people are doing their best to refrain from going out in sometimes crowded spaces and as farmers are pivoting their business strategy for how they sell their produce, CSAs are becoming an attractive alternative to the normal grocery store outing.
When people join a CSA, they are buying “shares” in that CSA in return for weekly or biweekly packages of vegetables, meat, dairy, and other farm products (depending on the CSA/farm). You pay upfront for the season (or half-season, as some CSAs offer) and on regular intervals, your farm-fresh produce is either shipped directly to you or made available for regular pickups.
Just in southeast Michigan there are hundreds, if not thousands of farms and urban farming initiatives that you can take advantage of through CSA programs. Check out just a few of them below.
As a co-op, City Commons is made up of seven farms located in Detroit and all farms participate in sustainable farming, which means they never use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. There is currently a waitlist to become a member, but CSA members will receive a weekly package of vegetables, new recipes and a newsletter to keep them informed about the harvest from each of City Commons’ farms. They also sell their products at Eastern Market, but due to COVID-19, are looking into a way for people to order their produce online for contactless pickup.
If you’re looking to purchase grass-fed beef in either individual cuts or bundles of 20+ lbs. Then Baseline Farm in Dexter has you covered. Both one-time purchases and a CSA program are available. The farm touts a very structured grazing method as the livestock is constantly moved around the fields where the grass is freshest.
Offering both full share at $700 or half share at $400, Fisheye Farms in Detroit is providing members of its CSA fresh produce, like carrots, tomatoes, eggplants, turnips, beets, onions, garlic, kale, fresh herbs, and more on a weekly basis. To maintain the freshness of the produce, packages will be arranged weekly for both full and half share members; full share members will simply have more produce in each package. The CSA runs from June through October and each bag of produce can be picked up at their Detroit-based farm on Monday or Tuesday evenings or delivered to your house on Tuesdays via a weekly website purchase. CSA members will also receive access to recipes from the farmers themselves as well as local chefs.
Argus Farm Stop in Ann Arbor works with more than 200 local farms to procure all kinds of fresh produce, dairy, eggs, meat/fish, and even baked goods. Customers can visit their Liberty St. location from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, where they have adjusted the store layout so customers can shop at a distance. Groceries can also be ordered online and picked up at their Packard Rd. location or delivered to your home. And, finally, a six-week produce box subscription is available for $180 and can be picked up on Thursdays at the Packard Rd. location from 2-7 p.m.
After full-time farmers Marly Spiecer-Schneider and Aquillon Hettrick stepped down for the 2020 season, The Community Farm of Ann Arbor decided to make this season more of a year of transition or, as they call it, the “chrysalis” year. They are hoping that people will contribute “seed money” (no pun intended) in 2020 that can be used for the 2021 season as they search for a new full-time farmer. Members will still receive regular updates on the status of the farm and can attend the farm’s monthly meetings (currently conducted through the video chat application Zoom).