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Monday, January 17, 2011

Buying Local Produce - What is a CSA?

If you are interested in buying local fruits and vegetables it isn't all that easy to get them from the big, convenient grocery stores! If you want that to happen, we have to keep hounding the produce managers, that's a whole different blog though... Until that happens, here are some options...

Click here for a list of year round farmers' markets that are available in the Toronto area.  Convenient isn't always the best way to describe farmers' markets though, is it?  Don't get me wrong, I am a lover of the farmers' markets, really I am. But when you are trying to squeeze picking up the groceries in between tap class and a play date, with list of chores the length of your arm, and the fantasy of a late afternoon nap, it's not always realistic.

There has to be other options, right? What about local or home delivery? right from the farm? It's true it's available and right here in Ontario. Each farm or collective has different options, here's a couple on 100 mile finds.

This is where "What's a CSA?" comes in. A CSA is not a Food Box delivery service, although it can be, and Food Box delivery service isn't necessarily a CSA either. Confused? read on...

"Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program is a system that connects you the consumer directly to fresh, locally grown, organic food in your area.  In a CSA, farmers grow food for a predetermined group of consumers who pay an annual fee to purchase their share of the harvest. This allows you to claim back a connection to the production of your food. Knowing it is grown within your community rather than traveling thousands of kilometers. CSA's are locally sustainable and are shared risk agriculture" Strattons Farm blog - there is no way I could explain it better than that, visit their blog, it's fantastic!
Strattons Farm offer a CSA program where you can pick up your share, at their farm in Stirling, ON.

plan B Organic Farm is another option. They also have a CSA program in place, with a bit of a twist though. They are a multi-farm CSA. They source from 12 farms in Southern Ontario. As with most CSA's and delivery services they offer a variety of box sizes and the potential for some imported products. They also offer delivery to different depots in the Hamilton and Toronto area AND home delivery in the a few select areas.

Mama Earth Organics is a local food delivery service, not a CSA, they call themselves "Toronto's Local Food Movement", get it?! "The goal was (and still is) to provide a service where local farms are given priority and customers are able to access the freshest organic items available, at a fair price." They let you customize your entire basket (for a small fee), they have "never sends" (up to 5 items), you can skip a week (you have to give them notice), you can add to your order, they also offer a 'standing order'! has an amazing website where you can access many (not sure if all are listed)  local CSA's. You key in your postal code and a radius and Voila!
Another good site is , it's got a "find a farm" option.

I really tried to find a guide for local produce delivery, I'm still looking...

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