Monday, September 8, 2014

Buying from Local Farms the Easy Way: A List of Arizona CSAs

Written by Marily. 

Our family just finished our first week out of this month's commitment to shop locally. Keep reading for an update on how it went. First, to help myself and you out in buying local produce and farm products, I wanted to share some information with you about CSAs and how to get started buying local produce boxes.


What is a CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Generally, members of a CSA contribute to a subscription program for buying local produce boxes from a local farm. Members pay a set amount each season or each month and receive offerings from their farm on a regular basis. Each farm does theirs differently, but you will have produce for certain and sometimes dairy and even meat options for buying, depending on the farm. 

For farmers, a CSA program means pre-paid commitments that help keep their farms operating all season long. For customers, it means an easy way to buy local produce at a savings. 

Here's a list of Arizona CSAs throughout the state, by region. 


Statewide:

Crooked Sky Farms (Deliveries in several Valley locations, Tucson, Flagstaff, and more). Pay $20/week for eight shares of produce. Pick up at one of the designated locations.

Bountiful Baskets. Bountiful Baskets is not the same as a traditional CSA. You sign up on their website and order each time you want a produce basket (half veggies, half fruit). In addition to the regular basket offering, there are always options to buy add-ons of bread, tortillas, granola. Most of these add-on items are from local companies, and the produce is "as local as possible" but not just from AZ or even the United States. Pick up locations are all over the state, making it very convenient.  I have personally used Bountiful Baskets several times and love the program, the baskets are a great price and the add-ons are fantastic. 

Phoenix Area:

Backyard Farmer. While not quite a CSA (it's more customized) this company is just awesome and a great service I have personally used. They have an easy, online ordering system where you pick the items you want: produce, natural products, meats, eggs, etc. Items are from several different farms all over the state. You order by Sunday night and deliveries are made to your home on Wednesday or Thursday depending on your area. Farm-fresh food straight to your door. What could be better than that?


My boys enjoying our first box from The Backyard Farmer, three years ago.
Desert Roots Farm. Sign up for a whole or half membership seasonally. You can pick up at several locations around the Valley or have the produce delivered to your door. Also bread, eggs, meat, dairy, etc. are generally available as add-on options.

Love Grows Farms (Fresh Farm Boxes). Sign up for weekly or bi-weekly delivery or pick-up. In addition to produce you also can get eggs.

Tempe CSA. Buy a produce share one week at a time or save by purchasing a share for an entire year.

Superstition Farms. As a member of the Dairy Food Club, you will receive packages twice a month of local milk, butter, ice cream, and special items made from a local chef.

Chow Locally. Easy pick-up locations throughout the valley and a nice video on their site if you are still learning about CSAs and want to see an example of what a CSA box might be like.

Blue Sky Organic Farms. CSA produce delivered to your door or at pick-up sites in Litchfield Park, Buckeye, and Glendale.

Gila Farm Cooperative. This farm employs refugees to produce locally grown food with a vision for helping refugees with jobs. Order a CSA membership for 8, 10, or 12 weeks or get a sample membership to try for a week or more.

Farmyard. Local produce and eggs CSA bundles delivered to your home with a 5- or 10-week agreement.

Maya's Farm. Purchase a season at a time and pick up your produce weekly at your choice of location in Phoenix or Scottsdale.

The Farm at Agritopia. In addition to CSA produce (and eggs add-on) the farm also offers U-Pick events for CSA members and discounts on non-CSA items.

Tonopah Rob's Vegetable Farm. A more customized share, you pick what you want each week at the farmers market. Tonopah, Glendale, Phoenix

Northern and Central AZ:

Yum Yum Produce (Verde Valley). Purchase an 8-week+ share in their CSA program and pick up at locations around the Verde Valley.

Flagstaff CSA and Local Market. Participate in the CSA program for a one-time seasonal cost and/or shop at the store for locally-made foods and products.

Prescott College CSA. Cooperative CSA program available in Yavapai County.

Southern Arizona:

Walking J Farm CSA available for Tucson, Tubac, and Green Valley and online ordering available to pick up in Phoenix.

Avalon Organic Gardens. Sign up for at least six weeks of shares, delivery to Tucson, Tubac, Tumac├ícori, Green Valley, and Nogales.

Tucson CSA. Pick up your produce in Tucson on Wednesdays. Subscribe for 6 or 12 pick-ups at a time.

Sleeping Frog Farms. Purchase a traditional CSA share or a yearly "farm card." The farm card is basically a prepaid card you can use at their farmers market stands to buy produce throughout the year and gets you 10% off your farm purchases.

Lucky Nickel Ranch. Delivers to Coolidge, Eloy, and Casa Grande.

An update on our local shopping month:

We have finished one week of buying locally. Want to know how it went?

It's been a great experience so far, making me stretch and learn some new things about companies in Arizona. Here's a quick run-down:

Groceries: I ordered lots of amazing produce, eggs, and dried beans from The Backyard Farmer

The other groceries that I bought this week were from Bashas' and Sprouts. Did you know Sprouts is an Arizona company? Of course when I am limiting myself to shopping locally that was great news for me. And Bashas' is a nice option if I am looking for household products, soap, etc. 

On Memorial Day, we took a drive to see Montezuma Castle in Camp Verde.  Later that day, we stopped at Waldos' BBQ, as a precursor for my husband Mark's birthday (it's one of his favorite places and bonus--free kids meals Mon-Thurs.)




For my Mark's birthday on Tuesday, he got a bass guitar set I purchased from someone via a facebook sales group, something he's been wanting for a few years. Buying from your neighbors is another great way to shop local.

My son had a birthday on Saturday and had his heart set on a specific Lego set. There are not a lot of options for buying toys locally, but I did get a suggestion for Kidstop Toys in Scottsdale. I called the store ahead of time and they didn't have the specific set I was looking for but had other options. 

My husband and I decided to get him the set he wanted and ended up at Walmart to make my birthday boy happy. I should have planned ahead and might have been able to place an order at Kidstop for the set. 

I also ended up driving home from taking my kids to school this morning, through flooding streets and needing a couple of emergency items from the grocery store. Instead of driving the extra few miles to Bashas' through the crazy weather, I opted to stop at a Walmart Neighborhood Market and get what I needed on my way home.

I did shop at Big Box stores not once, but actually twice last week. I am disappointed about that, but hope to do better this week.

Here's to another week of local shopping. 

Do you have any tips for local shopping? 

Have you tried a CSA yet?
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