CSAs in Newton
What is a CSA? Is a CSA Right For You?
CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture." While there are many ways communities can support local farms (like purchasing produce at farmers' markets or farm stands,) CSAs are traditionally subscription-based programs, where customers purchase a share of the produce grown by a local farm, before the growing season begins. Shares can often be purchased in different sizes, and can consist of more than locally grown produce, like eggs, flowers, or baked goods. There are even some CSAs that consist solely of meat or fish shares, but, in this newsletter, we're focusing on produce CSAs. Around here, CSAs are typically picked up at a central location, on a designated date. While some farms let subscribers customize the contents of their CSA share, others have a "you get what you get" policy.

Some of the benefits of CSAs include:

  • A steady, reliable source of local, fresh produce without shopping at a grocery store or market.
  • Fresher food resulting from the direct farm to consumer food chain.
  • More money going to the farmer who grows your food than when the food is transported and sold by middlemen.
  • Greater profitability for farms because subscriptions enable farmers to better estimate demand, making more informed decisions about purchasing seeds, supplies, equipment, and labor.
  • Greater liquidity for farmers as upfront subscription fees provide farmers with money at a time when they need to make seasonal investments and pay bills, but have little revenue.
  • Ensure the longevity of local farms, and community access to nutritious food.
  • Lower food costs versus purchasing similar items a la carte at stores, stands, or markets.

There are a few downsides to CSAs as well:

  • Typically, the share is paid for up-front, so there's an initial high out-of-pocket cost when paying for months of fresh produce at one time.
  • Without the ability to select the produce included in a share, you may get some items you don't like. (For us, turnips always seem to end up in the compost bin instead of on the dinner table.)
  • Since farming is weather-dependent, there is always the risk that harsh weather conditions will negatively impact food production and the size of CSA shares.

One of the most popular CSAs in Newton is through the Newton Community Farm. Even though their summer 2021 CSA is now filled, there are other great local CSA programs delivering to Newton (or very close), and we've included them below. (By the way, next door Allandale Farm offers a CSA, but it, too, is filled for the 2021 season.)
This organic farm is a regular at Newton's Farmers' Market and has, at last count, 3 different Newton pick up locations.

Dates: June 8 - September 16 (15 weeks)
Differentiation: Customizable shares available for a slight premium. With 3 locations in Newton, chances are one is near your neighborhood.
Customizable Shares
Large $60 weekly - $900/season
Medium $50 weekly - $750/season
Small $40 weekly - $600/season
Traditional Shares
Large $55 weekly - $825/season
Medium $45 weekly - $675/season
Small $35 weekly - $525/season
While this community farm isn't in Newton, it's a short drive to its Weston location, and a wonderful option for those who like to pick some of their own items, including beans, cherry tomatoes, peas, some herbs, and flowers. An added plus is that the CSA pick up at the farm stand means you can always add additional items to your order like cookies, honey, or syrup. If you had your heart set on a share with Newton Community Farm but didn't get in, this is a great alternative.

Dates: June 7 - October 18 (20 weeks)
Differentiation: Pick your own for some items and option to purchase additional items when picking up at farm stand.
Land's Sake Summer Shares
Large - $35 weekly or $700/season + membership fee
Small - $25 weekly or $500/season + membership fee
The organic Neighborhood Farm, located in Wayland, offers pay-as-you-go CSA shares with either a Sunday pick up in Needham or at the farm. Unlike other CSAs, there is no up-front commitment or payment (you can even skip weeks,) but the farm does request an indication of your intended purchase frequency for crop planning, and in return they extend a 10% discount on all seasonal purchases. You can also purchase items a la carte, (with or without purchasing a farm box), either online for pick up or at one of their farmers' markets, and receive the discount.
Dates: June - Fall (20 weeks)
Differentiation: Flexible, pay-as-you-go for 2021 with 10% discount. Option to purchase items a la carte "outside of the box."
Neighborhood Farm Summer Shares
Large - $45/week (less 10% discount at checkout)
Small - $25/week (less 10% discount at checkout)
Located in Granby, this certified organic farm delivers CSA produce shares to Newton's St. John's Episcopal Church on Lowell Ave. Shares are picked up on Thursdays from 4:15-7 PM. Also offers add-on flower, fruit, mushroom, baked goods, fall apple, and egg shares. Subscribers have the option to pay for the season in advance or in three equal payments. Red Fire Farm also has a vegetable swap box at their pick up site, where you can exchange an item from your box that you may not like with a different vegetable in the swap box. 2021 Spring Shares are sold out, but Summer Shares are available.

Dates: Beginning of June - Oct (20 weeks).
Differentiation: Multiple share types, flexible payment option, vegetable swap box.
Red Fire Farm Summer Shares
Regular - $34-36/week or $675-$725/season
Small - $26-$28/week or $525-$568/season
This Sudbury farm with sustainably grown and chemical-free produce has a vast selection of different farm shares, and is the only one with a Spring CSA designed specifically for children. Its Spring Kids' Share includes nutritious produce, seeds, gardening tools, puzzles, and easy, child-friendly recipes. There's still availability in their Spring Pantry share which includes hardy storage crops from their root cellar, delicate spring field crops, complemented by fresh breads, produce and pantry items from favorite local bakers, farmers and producers. You have the choice to either receive a share every week or every other week, and for $10/week it can be dropped off at your doorstep. Otherwise, pick up is at Rancatore's in Newtonville on Thursdays from 3 - 9:30 PM, making it easy to grab a pint or two of ice cream while you're there. An extra plus to the Siena Farms CSA: Ana Sortun of Sofra & Oleana fame, is the wife of Chris, the farmer who owns Siena Farms. She contributes recipes to their weekly newsletter!

Dates: Spring: March 15 - May 31 (12 weeks) Summer: June 7 - August 23 (12 weeks)

Differentiation: Multiple share types, including one for children; full or flex plans; discounts for multiple seasons. Only CSA with a home delivery option. Newsletter includes recipes from Ana Sortun.
Spring Shares
Kids - $42 weekly - $500/season
Kids Flex - $42 weekly - $250/season
Pantry - $62.50 weekly - $750/season
Pantry Flex - $62.50 weekly - $375/season
Summer Shares
Full - $62.50 weekly - $750/season
Flex - $62.50 weekly - $375/season
Stillman's "conscientiously grown" produce is delivered to Newton through its CSA program. (While we've included the link to information on the farm's CSAs, be forewarned--we've found their website painfully slow to load.) Shares are picked up at Judith's Kitchen in West Newton on Wednesdays from 2-6:30 PM, making it easy to grab some groceries, prepared foods, or beer and wine while you're there! Stillman's also offers what they call a fully customizable a la carte CSA, which are pre-purchased credits in varying amounts for use at point-of-sale farmers' markets and at the Boston Public Market location. However, since the farm does not participate in local markets, the a la carte offering doesn't seem like the best option for Newton residents. The Farm also offers shares in separate Fruit and Tomato CSAs. Sign up for their summer CSA by March 1st and receive a 5% discount for the season.

Dates: Spring: March 3 - June 2 (14 weeks) Summer: June 16 (est) - October 6 (est) (16 weeks)

Differentiation: Offers Produce, Fruit and Tomato CSAs. Still has shares available in their Spring CSA which begins March 3!
Other CSA-Type Options on the Horizon
Newton Farmers' Market
Newton's Farmers' Market season looks like it will begin at the end of June and run for 17 weeks. A few farms participating may offer CSA-type boxes at the market, including Wally's Vegetables, Dick's Market Gardens, & Freitas Farm. We'll share this information with you once their seasonal offerings are confirmed.
Coming Up Next: Alternatives to CSAs
Local Farms With Easy Doorstep Delivery
Not sure a CSA is for you? There are local farms and growers, not offering CSAs, who deliver to Newton's doorsteps, like Copicut Farms, Giant Gorilla Greens, Laszlo Family Farm, Lilac Hedge, Town to Table, and We Grow Microgreens. We'll tell you who they are, what they offer, minimum order quantities, how to order, and any upcoming specials being offered in Newton.
Never Miss A Beet
(or CSA, or farmers' market, or microgreens special, or...)
Follow ALL Over Newton on Instagram & Facebook (social links below) to keep informed on timely specials and events.

Questions? Any other information you'd like captured on ALL Over Newton? Let us know by emailing: lauren@allovernewton.com