What you need to know about organic vegetable box schemes and CSAs

You may have heard people talking about the good deals they’re receiving through their vegetable box scheme / CSA (community supported agriculture) For some, these programs are great because both the local farmers and the consumers are getting a good deal. Basically, local farmers are supported through investments made by consumers and in exchange, the consumers receive fresh fruits and vegetables.

Sounds pretty tempting, right? Before you make the commitment, read through the following considerations first. It’s best to know what you’re getting into before you sign up.

How it works – Basically, when you sign up for a CSA box or vegetable box scheme, you agree to pay a set fee for a full season and in return, you will receive a box of fresh, season produce in scheduled intervals. It may be once a week, bi-weekly or once a month, it just depends on what the conditions are in your agreement. The produce you receive will be seasonal produce. You won’t be getting any out-of-season produce, so you need to keep that in mind when deciding what season to sign up for.

What are the advantages? There are several benefits for joining a CSA or vegetable box scheme. First and foremost, the produce you receive will all be fresh and is organically grown. Additional advantages include:

  • It’s better for the environment as it take much less time and distance to get the produce from the farm to your house. This also means the food will contain less preservatives too.
  • The produce is fresh and in-season.
  • Generally, these plans are more cost-effective as you don’t have to pay additional money for the fuel it takes to transport the produce to the store.
  • You’ll receive fruits and vegetables you’re not used to eating, which will expand you and your family’s food palate.
  • It feels good to support community farmers and eat healthy, organic foods.

What are the disadvantages? As with everything, there are a few disadvantages to signing up for a CSA box or organic vegetable box scheme. They include:

  • You have to commit to a full season, and possibly a year. It doesn’t matter if you’re happy with the service or not, you’re committed for the terms of the contract.
  • It’s possible that you will receive fruits and vegetables that no one in your family likes and you don’t know what to do with.
  • You are not able to choose what produce you receive. You get whatever is available. There may be times when a substitution is made. For instance, you may receive eggplants if bell peppers didn’t do well that year.
  • It’s possible that you may lose your produce if you are unable to make the scheduled pick-up time.

So, how do you find a good program? Basically, start by asking around in your community. Find out who offers these programs and what they are selling. Word-of-mouth will also help you determine which farmers have the best reputations and which ones have bad reputations. Visiting the local farmer’s market is a great place to find knowledgeable people about the subject. You can also search online as well.