To Lori Scott, every Tuesday feels like Christmas. That’s the day the Porterville wife and mother of four gets her delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables from The Farmer’s Daughter CSA, or community supported agriculture program.
CSAs have been around for years, but have begun to increase in popularity as consumers become more interested in healthy eating, supporting local farmers and trying new foods.
The Fresno area is home to several CSA programs delivering boxes of produce – some of it organic – to your door, business or drop-off site.
“For me, I really like the variety of what I get in my weekly box,” says Scott, a customer of various CSA programs for 15 years. “And it’s like Christmas because I don’t always know is going to be in there. And I like being surprised with what’s inside.”
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Not everyone wants rutabagas.
Jenny Saklar, operations manager for Out of Our Own Backyards, or Ooooby, one of Fresno’s newest CSA programs
Along with gaining new customers, CSAs have also evolved to meet consumers’ growing interest in food. Traditionally, CSA customers had to subscribe to the program on a monthly or yearly basis. The farmer loaded the box with what was in season.
But that model began to change as farmers realized their customers were letting some food go to waste because they didn’t know how to prepare it. Farmers did away with the subscription requirement and allowed more flexibility in what customers could put in their box.
“Not everyone wants rutabagas,” says Jenny Saklar, operations manager for Out of Our Own Backyards, or Ooooby, one of Fresno’s newest CSAs.
Ooooby Fresno is among the CSA programs giving customers more of what they want while also trying to provide people with greater access to healthy food – a core principal of the program. Ooooby allows people to add items to their box, including farm fresh eggs, nuts, olive oil or coffee. One of Ooooby’s goals is to support and grow the local food economy by giving farmers and food entrepreneurs greater opportunities to sell their goods.
Ooooby Fresno got its start by inheriting more than 600 customers from CSA pioneer T&D Willey Farms in Madera. The longtime CSA farmers turned the program over to Ooooby Fresno, but will supply a majority of its produce.
Saklar says Ooooby Fresno wants to build on what the Willeys created by providing new options and choices for customers, including the ability to customize an entire box. The program also hopes to add home delivery rather than using a designated drop-off location for the weekly boxes.
We want to include items that people are familiar with and that they can use in their everyday cooking.
Melissa Steward, director of marketing for 1st Quality Produce
Also adding a new spin to the CSA model is 1st Quality Produce in Fresno. The produce wholesaler launched its concept last month with its Farm to Families program. Melissa Steward, marketing director for 1st Quality Produce, says it wants to focus on providing fruits and vegetables while also creating a new delivery system.
The company is reaching out to business owners who want to give their employees the option of buying a weekly box of produce. Already, Clovis Community Medical Center and Custom Ag Formulators are participating. Customers can also pick up their box on Fridays at the company’s south Fresno headquarters near Orange and Church avenues or at The Bar Method studio at Palm and Herndon avenues.
Steward said all of the produce contained in the box is from California, with a large portion coming from the San Joaquin Valley. Last week’s 38-pound box had pluots, green grapes, basil, cucumbers, eggplant, cabbage, sweet mini peppers, grapefruit and butter lettuce.
A CSA can go as far as it wants to go, but it is always going to be based on a box of fruits and vegetables.
Kristy Bravo, founder of The Farmer’s Daughter
One of the fastest-growing CSA programs is The Farmer’s Daughter in Kingsburg. The organic CSA that operates in partnership with K.M.K. Farms allows customers to buy a box when they want, fill it with what’s available and add on specialty items, including eggs, olive oil and almond butter.
Kristy Bravo, founder of The Farmer’s Daughter, says that CSAs are venturing into adding a greater selection of items, including gourmet products. Bravo recently added items from the Pacific Grove-based Happy Girl Kitchen Co. The boutique food maker has created sauerkraut, kimchi, bread and butter pickles and blood orange marmalade.
“A CSA can go as far as it wants to go, but it is always going to be based on a box of fruits and vegetables,” Bravo says.
Family Farm Fresh in Ivanhoe offers home delivery as part of its CSA. It delivers between 120 to 150 baskets of produce a week.
Linda Brandt, who handles marketing for Family Farm Fresh, said their customers like the convenience of home delivery and don’t mind paying a little extra. They deliver throughout the central San Joaquin Valley from Porterville to Fresno.
The company is also going to soon start providing information on meal planning and will be offering greens year-round. They are working with a grower in Visalia that grows bib, romaine and other lettuces, in a greenhouse.
“Our customers want to eat healthy food but they also want to show their support for the local economy and local farms,” Brandt says. “It is a feel-good thing. They are doing something good for themselves and they are doing something good for others.”
Community Supported Agriculture
If you are interested in participating in a CSA, here is a partial list:
▪ Out of Our Own Backyards Fresno, 559-674-2642
Family box, $21
Seedling box, $16
▪ Abundant Harvest Organics, 559-355-8856
Small box, $22.80
Large box, $38.30
▪ Stella Luna Farm CSA, 559-593-0710
Basic box, suited for a family of two, $20
Chef box, suited for a family of four, $25
Juice box, vegetables for juicing, $15
▪ 1st Quality Produce, 559-442-1932
Farm to Families box, $29.99
For orders of 20 boxes or more, $20
▪ Family Farm Fresh, 559-798-0557
Small basket, 8-9 items, for one to two people, $30.95
Medium basket, 10-12 items, for three to four people, $40.95
Large basket, 10-12 different items, for four to five people, $50.95
Extra large basket, 10-12 different items, for five people or more, $60.95
▪ The Farmer’s Daughter CSA, email@example.com
Small box (8 units your choice) $20
Large box (16 units your choice) $35
Small Farm Box, $18, not customized
Large Farm Box, $32 - not customized