CSA Information

The best food is what’s grown closest to you!

More and more people are recognizing the benefits of locally grown foods for freshness, flavor, and nutrition. In 2014 Eldredge Farm & Nursery is continuing its Community Supported Agriculture program as a way for the food buying public to create a direct relationship with the farm, where members receive a weekly ½ bushel basket of produce over the 16 week harvest period.

Join the Eldredge Farm CSA
Download, Print & Mail
Membership Form (PDF)

These limited memberships will be sold on a first come, first served basis.

This program is a mutual commitment and partnership between a farm and supportive members of the community. The farmer(s) provide the wisdom and labor needed to nurture a harvest of produce, and members provide adequate financial support needed for the farm to operate in an economically sustainable manner. The farm benefits from having a reliable market at an equitable price, and members receive fresh, local, and affordable produce grown by people they know and trust.

The Community Supported Agriculture model is simple: the farmer sets a price for a share of the year’s produce from his/her farm, then recruits a group of participants who purchase a membership in the farm and receive a weekly supply of fresh-picked produce.

CSA members have the satisfaction of knowing where their food comes from and the farmer who grows it. The farmer has a guaranteed market in place – often before the growing season begins – coupled with up-front cash from member payments that can eliminate the need to borrow start-up capital. Farmers also benefit by developing a long-term community interest in the viability of their farm.

Reconnecting people with the land and the farmers that support them is an important part of Community Supported Agriculture.

The average weekly distribution is planned include:

  • 1 to 3 leafy greens
  • 1 or 2 herbs
  • 1 or 2 alliums (onion family)
  • 1 to 3 fruiting vegetables
  • 1 to 3 root vegetables
  • and in spring and fall, 1 or 2 brassicas (cabbage family)

 Join the Eldredge Farm CSA
Download, Print & Mail
Membership Form (PDF)

Based on a typical growing season, you should expect to find an assortment of these items in your box:

June:

salad mix, broccoli, radishes, swiss chard, kale, spinach, Chinese greens, beets, carrots, cucumbers, tatsoi, pac choi, lettuce, peas, spinach

July:

basil, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, greens, onions, eggplant, bell peppers, hot peppers, yellow squash and zucchini, radishes

August:

basil, beans, beets, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, onions, bell peppers, hot peppers, thyme, rosemary, yellow squash and zucchini

September:

salad mix, basil, beets, broccoli, corn, carrots, melons, onions potatoes, snow and snap peas, tomatoes, yellow squash and zucchini

October:

salad mix, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, potatoes, spinach, turnips, parsnips, yellow squash and zucchini

You will have the choice to pick up shares on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Fridays. Boxes are available for pick up on these days from 10:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. at the Farm. In order to make the harvests run smoothly, we ask that you choose a designated pick-up day for the duration of the CSA season. However, we can temporarily switch your pick-up day if you let us know one day in advance. Summer holidays (which generally fall on Mondays) are pickup days.

To ensure you receive the freshest high quality produce, we harvest for the CSA on the morning of your designated pick-up day specifically for the members signed up for that day. Once we harvest it you own it! Please note that shares that are not picked up by 6:30 pm sharp will be donated to local organizations.

Members bring their own bags to pick up their shares. As the first harvest approaches, you will receive notice of the first pick-up date..

General Questions About the Program

What is the Eldredge Farm CSA Program?

Located in Brewster and Harwich, MA Eldredge Farm in 2014 operates a 50 member Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program wherein CSA members pick up a weekly 1/2 bushel box of fresh vegetables and herbs. The distribution of the vegetable and herb harvest at the farm lasts for 16 weeks from mid-June to late October.

What is Eldredge Farm working towards? What are its goals?

Eldredge Farm is dedicated to creating an economically viable, sustainable farm which nurtures its soil, plants, animals, and community of workers and enlivens the connection between people and the source of their food. We are committed to providing the freshest, most vibrant food possible to our customers.

Our Guiding Principles

We stand for:

  • Providing our customers with the highest quality products and best service possible.
  • Building community amongst our members.
  • Sharing our knowledge and resources with the larger community.
  • Building a sustainable farm system which includes the soil, plants, animals and humans.
  • Providing employees with opportunities for growth, a balanced life, and adequate financial compensation.
  • Providing managers with a balanced work life which allows for creativity and reflection.
  • Building and maintaining the highest level of soil fertility possible.
  • Creating and maintaining infrastructure which supports the sustainability of the farm.
  • Providing the best possible life for farm animals.
  • Providing a safe environment.
  • Conducting business in a financially responsible manner.
  • Monitoring performance against standards.
  • Conducting all work in a timely manner.
  • Conducting all work as efficiently as possible.
  • Fostering research and development.
  • Maintaining a commitment to aesthetics and beauty.

How does the program work?

The way the  program works is very straight-forward. With a preseason payment, you purchase a weekly ½ bushel box of our season’s harvest during the course of our 16 week harvest season, from mid-June to late-October.

Are any of the crops genetically engineered?

No, all of our produce is free of genetic engineering.

Questions about becoming a member:

What is a member?

When you sign up, you dedicate yourself to being our customer – i.e. a member – for the season, 16 weeks. This provides us with a secure market, which is a welcome measure of certainty in the unstable world of farming! We, in turn, dedicate ourselves to being your farmers and providing you with a varied, nutritious vegetable diet for the season.

What does it mean to be a member?

We strive to bring you a beautiful and bountiful box each week, but since our boss, Nature, provides no guarantees, we can’t offer any either. One of the premises of a CSA is that the member shares, through the veggies, the farmer’s experiences of nature’s mischief and blessings (although our years of farming have taught us to minimize as many risks as possible –from draught [we have an excellent irrigation system] to floods [we have the right types of equipment to get critical farming jobs done in short, dry windows of time]).

Is it possible that I would pay for a share and then not receive a full season’s worth of produce due to bad weather?

The weather woes would probably never rob you of all your veggies. In recent years, increases in soil fertility and advances in our growing expertise have consistently produced stellar boxes.

What types of memberships are there?

Ours is a 16-week membership, which starts in mid-June, runs until late-October.

How much do these shares cost?

Membership open to 50 Members. A full share membership price is $800. A half share membership is $400.

Several families can share a membership.

Do you offer any special payment plans?

No, we do not.

Do you accept credit cards?

Currently, we do not.

Can I try out a membership with a sample membership, maybe for a month or so?

No, we are unable to offer sample memberships. Unfortunately, the logistics are too complicated for us to manage this amongst everything else.

Is there a deadline for signing up?

There is no deadline for signing up for a given season. Memberships are sold on a first come, first serve basis and are available until we are sold out. It is always best not to delay too long before signing up in order to make sure that you do not miss out.

How do I sign up?

The easiest way is to print our membership contract (PDF) and mail it to us. When we receive your completed sign up form and payment check we will contact you with additional information about your membership.

Questions about the Vegetables:

What is in a box?

Our goal is to provide you a 1/2 bushel box with about 7 to 10 items each week, which includes 1 or 2 herbs, 1 to 3 leafy greens, 1 or 2 alliums (onion family), 1 to 4 fruiting vegetables, 1 to 3 root vegetables, and, in spring and fall, 1 or 2 brassicas (cabbage family). For each weekly harvest, the field manager assesses the variety of vegetables reaching maturity in the fields and tries to fill a sample box with a balance of the different vegetables, while still considering which vegetables absolutely must be harvested now and which ones really should wait another week. This pre-harvest assessment of the box contents is included in each weekly web posting and a newsletter available at the farm. However, conditions can change quickly in the fields – even more quickly than the newsletter is able to keep up with. If a vegetable listed in the newsletter does not appear in your box, please be aware that maybe it was not available due to a last minute harvest decision. We always try to find a substitute vegetable if one is available and if there is room in the box.

How consistent can the boxes be with so many members?

We try to distribute our produce as evenly as possible to our members. As we harvest or wash, we often separate by size. This allows us to balance the net quantity of each vegetable or all of the vegetables combined. For example, we will pack two small celeriacs instead of one large celeriac or a large of one vegetable with a small of another vegetable.

How much is in a 1/2 bushel box? How many people will it feed?

We do our best to fill your weekly 1/2 bushel produce box to the brim, equivalent to about 1 regular paper grocery sacks. The first boxes of the season offer mainly leafy greens and herbs.

When are specific crops harvested? When can I expect to receive corn, tomatoes, spinach, etc.?

Due to the seasonality of raising vegetables Cape Cod, the types of vegetables you receive will vary over the season. Early boxes are dominated by greens, mid-season boxes by fruiting vegetables, and late season boxes by root vegetables. It’s natural to be excited about the first ripe tomato of summer, but don’t expect to receive it in your first box. We work hard to provide variety throughout the entire season, within the limits that Mother Nature allows. There will also be variation in the box weight across the season. The early season boxes tend to be lighter while the end of season boxes tends to be heavier. This is highly dependent on the year and the weather. Some boxes will be more “full” than others. If you receive a box which is not as full as you were expecting, we hope that you look at it as only one box of the 16 week season. Hopefully, it will be averaged out with a very stuffed box later in the season.

Can I choose what goes in my box?

Due to the system we use of pre-packed boxes, all of our members receive the same variety of vegetables. Members who dislike beets will receive the same amount of beets as the members who love beets. Customization of the boxes based on individual preferences is not possible. It is incredibly difficult to track preferences through paperwork, determine the units to harvest, individually label each box, change the contents of each box as it passed by on  and peer at the label to see if it says “herbs: yes or no”, “tomatoes: yes or no”, “beets: yes or no”. We do not customize the boxes.

How can I be assured that the vegetables will be of good quality?

The quality of your vegetables is determined by a variety of factors. At the farm, we go to great lengths to optimize the variables that are controllable. Almost everything delivered in the boxes is harvested within 24 hours of its being placed in the members box. We harvest as early in the day as possible, often starting before the sun comes up, and immediately transport the vegetables into our shaded washing area. Most vegetables are then washed with cold water and placed into the boxes and moved into the pickup shed for storage.

To keep your produce as fresh as possible, pick up as early as you can on your pick day. Your vegetables are delivered in wax corrugated boxes. The pickup site is an open shed and has no refrigeration; so, the sooner you pick up the better. Freshness and quality can quickly wither on a hot summer day. It’s also important to properly store your vegetables once you get them home.

Despite our best attempts, we will always have a few crops that do not flourish in the weather and pest conditions of that year. This is part of the great balancing act of Nature; conditions under which some crops excel cause others to fail. Thus, there will always be a “star” crop and a “B-list” crop in any given year, and you can bet that the two will change the next season. If we already know of an unavoidable problem with a particular crop, we will let you know about it on the website.

In no way do we feel that it is acceptable to put vegetables of poor quality into the boxes. Try as hard as we may, sometimes things slip by our quality control. If you are not satisfied with the quality of the produce that you have received, please contact the farm and we will try to rectify the situation.

How long will the produce keep?

Crops vary in how long they will keep, even under ideal growing and storage conditions. There can be a significant difference between the storage life of fresh organic produce and that of conventional produce treated with waxes and preservatives.

Relative produce perish ability:

Very high (use within 3-4 days): broccoli, cauliflower, cantaloupe, scallions, mesclun, leaf lettuce, spinach, sweet corn, fully ripe tomatoes

High: honeydew and other melons, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, eggplant, head lettuce, peppers, summer squash

Moderate: beets, carrots, radishes, potatoes (immature)

Low: potato (mature), dry onion, garlic, pumpkin, winter squash

Please keep in mind that vegetables that look imperfect or dirty will usually clean up just fine and definitely taste better than those which are bred only for uniformity or pest resistance.

Is there fruit in the vegetable boxes?

Yes, but only a little. The only fruits that we do grow are melons: watermelons (ice-box size), honeydew melons and cantaloupes, blueberries and cranberries. These show up in the boxes from mid- to late-September through October.

How is the produce prepared? Is there much cleaning or washing on my part?

We usually pre-rinse all of the vegetables that go into the boxes. However, we firmly recommend that you always wash the vegetables before preparing them at home.

Questions about Box Deliveries:

Where do you deliver?

Eldredge Farm is pickup only.

Can I pay extra to have the farm deliver directly to my house?

At this point in time, we do not have the means, nor the time or staff, to deliver our boxes directly to members’ homes. While this delivery approach is something that we are considering for the distant future, as of now we cannot accommodate any special requests for home deliveries.

What time can I pick up my box?

You can pick up your share after 10:00 A.M. on your selected pick up day. Pick up days are: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. This is the only time that weekly shares will be available and produce will not be stored by for next day pick up. Summer Holidays are pickup days!

We ask that the vegetable boxes be retrieved within the pickup time window and preferably, as close to boxing time as possible. This ensures that members will be able to get their vegetables home and into their refrigerators in time to maintain the peak freshness that results from buying local. Additionally, prompt pickup mitigates the detrimental effects of warming or freezing on the produce. If you believe that your situation would not allow you to consistently pick up your vegetables within the allotted pickup hours, this program would probably not work for you.

What if I can’t make the scheduled pickup time?

Share distribution will take place, rain or shine, unless genuinely catastrophic weather or another natural disaster intercedes. You will be notified in advance (preferably through e-mail) should distribution be cancelled. To date it never has been.

What happens if I know I will be unable to pick up a box?

When you’re unable to pick up your box during the scheduled times you may either try to arrange a next day pick-up, have a friend pick it up, or leave your box at the site and allow it to flow into our Food Bank Program.

In extraordinary circumstances, you may be able to pick up your box the next day, provided you are able to call and receive some type of confirmation. However, there’s no guarantee the farm workers can help you out. Please call the farm if this presents a problem.

You may wish to share some of the harvest with family, friends or neighbors; let them pick up your box. When you have someone else pick up your box, share the pickup instructions with them! It’s possible that without this info, your stand-in might cause a lot of confusion for fellow members, and the farm. We don’t like to hear about stand-ins taking more boxes than they were supposed to. This leaves another member without a box, and increases our efforts.

Food Bank Program: For those weeks when you don’t get around to having a friend pick up your box, don’t despair! Your box will not go to waste. We will steer unclaimed boxes to families in need.

What happens if there aren’t any boxes left at the pickup site?

Missing boxes do happen occasionally, for a variety of reasons. If you arrive at the pickup site one day to find that all the boxes are gone, first ask yourself if you are picking up during the correct time frame, and on the right day. If so, come see us in the fields, we will do our best to explain and/or rectify the situation.

Join the Eldredge Farm CSA
Download, Print & Mail
Membership Form (PDF)

If you have further questions about the program, please contact us.