7 CSA produce boxes that bring the farm to your fork
Photo courtesy of Produce Express
This salad kit from Produce Express includes Little Gem lettuce, grape tomatoes and English cucumbers.
With restaurants struggling to turn a profit during the pandemic, the regional farms they rely on are also seeing their revenues dry up. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition expects a loss of $1.32 billion between March and May for farms and ranches that sell in local food markets.
While the federal government rolls out plans to keep the food chain moving and Gov. Gavin Newsom expands his guidelines for restaurant reopenings, many valley farmers are turning to a community-supported agriculture (CSA) model, popularized in the 1980s, to sell their farm-fresh produce by the box via subscription. Nowadays, with some farms, you can even handpick your fruits and veg online without a subscription, and have them sent to your doorstep or to a designated pickup location.
From fresh-picked fruit to small-batch jams and even weekly flower bouquets, here are seven regional CSAs—some so popular during quarantine they currently have a waiting list—that will guarantee you a seat at the farm-to-fork table.
Farm Fresh to You
Farm Fresh to You is a hub for community-supported agriculture: The West Sacramento-based home delivery service sources most of its fruits, veggies and artisan food products from its Capay Organic farm while also offering goods from other local and regional producers—like the Winters-based Buckhorn Steakhouse butchery and Full Belly Farm in Guinda—so that the consumer can purchase from a variety of vendors in one place. Start with an organic produce box (no subscription required) like the mixed fruit and veggie ($27.50) or the veggie-only ($35), and then choose from over 700 optional add-ons like pickled vegetables, honey, jam and fresh eggs. 800-796-6009. farmfreshtoyou.com
Every unboxing of this Capay Valley farm’s CSA box reveals an array of hard-to-find produce, like Yellow Finn potatoes, bunches of cinnamon basil and Chandler strawberries. Subscriptions for the vegetable boxes, delivered weekly to designated drop-off zones (or to your home if you live on the Sacramento grid), start at $220 for the quarter. Good Humus also offers separate flower bouquet and bread subscriptions for the quarterly prices of $105 and $40, respectively. (Note: Good Humus' subscription membership is currently full, but you can visit its website to put your name on a wait list.) 530-787-3187. goodhumus.com
Full Belly Farm
Guinda-based Full Belly Farm offers a weekly CSA box that's big enough to feed three people and can be delivered to your home or picked up at designated drop-off zones around the Sacramento region. The contents change week to week depending on what’s growing at the farm, which means you’ll probably be cooking new dishes on the regular with produce that has never graced your kitchen. Fear not, boxes come with detailed recipes to help you use the produce in a timely manner. And even if you don’t, there’s always vegetable soup. (Note: Full Belly is not adding new subscriptions at the moment, but you can visit its website to put your name on a wait list.) 16090 Road 43. Guinda. 800-791-2110. fullbellyfarm.com
While Produce Express is hoping to resume regular deliveries to their restaurant clients like Pushkin’s and Bella Bru soon, the wholesale distributor has switched gears, availing its fresh hauls from growers like Del Rio Botanical, Riverdog Farm, and Capay Organic directly to consumers (sans subscription). You can order themed boxes, from an Italian-inspired assortment ($40) of portobello mushrooms, flat-leaf parsley and basil, to a Local Organic kit ($50) filled with spring onions, garlic and asparagus. Packed to feed a family of four for a week, these generous boxes can be picked up directly from Produce Express’ Sacramento warehouse, or at participating restaurants, including midtown’s Alaro Brewing and Pizza Bell in Elk Grove. 8340 Belvedere Ave. 916-446-8918. produceexpress.net
Terra Firma Farm
The 200-acre Terra Firma Farm in Winters provides three different sizes for its weekly CSAs. The small ($18) is meant for a couple of moderate vegetable eaters, the medium ($29) is more suited for budding home chefs with strong produce tendencies and the large ($38) supplies ingredients for nightly dinners for families of four. With the start of warmer weather, expect tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini in your box of choice, which can be scooped up at the farm or at drop-off zones in Sacramento, Davis and Winters. (Note: Terra Firma's subscription list is full, but you can visit its website to put your name on a wait list.) 4713 Bakers Rd. Winters. 530-795-2473. terrafirmafarm.com
Flexibility is the key to Riverdog Farm’s CSA program, which offers a wide range of plans that you can pick up at drop-off zones throughout Sacramento and Yolo counties. For example, if you’re not ready to commit long-term, buy a set of four weekly delivered boxes ($96) to try out the service before choosing a monthly, quarterly or annual subscription. For those who want to pick and choose their produce, the Capay Valley farm’s web store is your oyster, but you can only add wholesale quantities of produce to your order. Who knows, maybe 10 pounds of white spring onions or a dozen bunches of curly kale is just what your Memorial Day barbecue needs. 7587 County Road 49. Guinda. 530-796-4100. riverdogfarm.com
Tony's Fruit Stand
Started in 1993, Tony’s Fruit Stand in Marysville embraces its history as a homey, roadside market. Husband-wife team Matt and Julie Stevenson box up fresh fruits and vegetables, from tomatoes to peaches, grown on their 15-acre farm for a lengthy list of loyal customers, who can—without a subscription—place their order for custom boxes and bags online. Prepared foods like piled-high peach pies (Julie’s grandma’s recipe) and chunky, homemade strawberry jam can also be added to your e-cart. Mix and match your goodies before picking it up at the Marysville stand or at designated locations in Arden Park and East Sacramento on Thursdays—just be sure to specify your preferred drop-off neighborhood in the notes section when you check out. (Orders must be placed by 4 p.m. on Tuesday to receive your loot that week.) 10464 CA-70. Marysville. 530-741-1512. tonysfruitstand.com
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