Want fresh fruits and vegetables all summer long without the work of growing them? You might be interested in a local produce subscription service, also known as a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Think of it like a magazine or any other type of subscription — pay in advance and, in this case, receive a bag of produce in return each week through a specified season.
With a local CSA, subscribers get fresh, high quality produce that is bagged up and delivered to a specified location almost immediately after it is harvested. The produce changes throughout the summer depending on what is in season. CSA providers often provide recipes for subscribers who are at a loss for what to do with bok choy or squash.
The benefit to the CSA service provider is getting financial support for startup costs, including seed, plants, soil amendments, tools, etc. Otherwise, they have to cover all of those costs and wait weeks, months or years for return on their investment depending on the type of produce.
In Lawrence, there are several options for CSAs. They are:
Rolling Prairie is the oldest produce subscription service in the area, founded in 1994. It is a collaboration of six Lawrence area farms and provides vegetables to more than 300 households in the Lawrence and Kansas City areas. Current member farms are East Stone House Creek Farm, Hoyland Farm, Maier’s Farm, Sandheron Farm, Wakarusa Valley Farm and Conway’s Produce.
Rolling Prairie has two pickup times and locations in Lawrence: Mondays at The Merc, 901 Iowa St., from 4 to 6 p.m.; and Thursdays at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine St., from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
A typical weekly bag includes six to eight items. Subscribers to the Thursday pickup site can also opt for a small bag option with five to seven items. The season runs from May to October. Sign up or get more information through the website at www.rollingprairiecsa.com.
Common Harvest CSA is new but is made up of five farms that have previous CSA experience through individual or other collaborative CSAs. Current member farms are Moon on the Meadow, Buller Family Farm, The Red Tractor Farm, Juniper Hill and Mellowfields Urban Farm.
Common Harvest has three pickup times and locations: Tuesdays at Sunrise Greenhouse, 1501 Learnard Ave, from 4 to 6 p.m.; Tuesdays at the northwest ramp of the football stadium on the KU campus from 4 to 6 p.m; or Thursdays on the west side of Watkins Health Center on the KU campus from 4 to 6 p.m.
A typical bag or “share” includes six to seven items, but small households can opt for a partial share including four to five items per week. The season is May 16-Oct. 23. Sign up through the website or get more information at www.commonharvestcsa.com.
Pendleton’s Country Market CSA
The Pendletons have been growing a range of vegetables, cut flowers and bedding plants since the 1970s. Most of their produce is sold at their on-farm store, 1446 E. 1850 Road, or at the Downtown Lawrence Farmers’ Market.
For the Pendleton’s CSA, public pickup locations in Lawrence are Tuesdays at the on-farm store; at K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St.; and at the Douglas County Courthouse, 11th and Massachusetts streets. On Wednesdays, pickup is available at the on-farm store; at Princeton Child Care Center, 3340 Peterson Road: and at Clinton Parkway Nursery, 4900 Clinton Parkway.
Bags include six to eight items with options to sign up for 12 or 20 weeks beginning May 10.
Pendleton’s Country Market also offers a nontraditional CSA in the form of a punch card to use at the on-farm store or at its farmers’ market booth. The card gives subscribers a pre-set amount to spend each month, making it more flexible for frequent travelers or for households who might want an extra-large quantity of certain items. Sign-up and more information are available at www.pendletons.com.
Amy’s Meats at the Homestead
Amy’s Meats began a meat CSA in 2006 and has since expanded into produce. It offers a weekly meat and veggie subscription from May to August, a “Fall Bounty” subscription in September and October, and a meat-only subscription seasonally.
The weekly meat and veggie subscription has a work requirement of 10 hours through the season, which comes out to about 2.5 hours per month. Work is guided and educational.
Sign up or get more information through the website www.amysmeats.com.
— Jennifer Smith is a former horticulture extension agent for K-State Research and Extension and horticulturist for Lawrence Parks and Recreation. She is the host of “The Garden Show.”