The CSA — standing for “community-supported agriculture” —is a model of food delivery that’s really picked up steam in the last decade or so. A subscriber purchases a share of a season’s harvest upfront and receives a box of seasonal produce for a set number of weeks. The money gives farmers the seed cash for their planting needs and a guaranteed market for what they grow.
While some small farms do their own CSAs, the more sustainable model sources food from many local farms. That’s the case with both of the largest and longest-last CSAs in north East Ohio, Fresh Fork and City Fresh, which offer numerous pickup locations.
City Fresh, a project of the Oberlin-based New Agrarian Center, markets itself to consumers who may like the idea of a CSA but are leery of the upfront cost or are concerned that they might not have used up everything before the next box is due. It features week-to-week ordering so you can get boxes only when you need them. Touting its social justice mission, it also offers tiered pricing, including “limited income” family and single shares, and it accepts SNAP. All its sustainably grown produce comes from within 75 miles of Cleveland. It offers 16 pick-up locations throughout Cuyahoga and Lorain counties and runs from June-November, with a pair of holiday share dates in December.
The more gourmet-oriented Fresh Fork Market offers a wider range of items in its shares. They come from more than 100 family farms within 75 miles of Cleveland, who provide the sustainably grown vegetables, fruits, whole grains, meat, dairy and eggs it packed in its boxes. Subscribers can pick a share tailored to their needs: small, large or mini, omnivore, vegetarian, carnivore or vegan. It runs for 22 weeks and offers nearly two dozen pickup locations. It also offers a winter subscription CSA. Its summer market runs this year from June 23-October 21.