The Earth Shares CSA (Community Supported Agriculture program) at Grailville in Loveland is a simple idea that makes a big impact. Participants, or shareholders, buy and work for a share of a farm and then take home part of the vegetables yielded by that farm every week during the growing season.
Membership Coordinator Jennifer Russell says members typically have fresh, local produce every week from late May through October and sometimes even November.
Shareholders can have working or non-working shares, she says. There are 75 total shares, and one can purchase a half or a whole share. If you choose to work (15-30 hours a season, depending on whether you buy a half or whole share), you pay $500 for a whole share or $270 for a half share. If you don’t help work the farm, you pay $700 for a whole share or $370 for a half.
As for the yield, “It really varies a lot from year to year,” Russell says.
The produce is entirely certified organic and includes tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, kale, carrots, potatoes and squash.
Russell says her family purchased a half share in 2010 and it provided almost all of the vegetables for two adults and one child during the season.
“It’s not like a supermarket, where they always have everything,” she says. “Every week there’s plenty of variety, but you may not get exactly what you want. I think almost everybody supplements (by shopping from other sources).”
It certainly costs more than the vegetables at the grocery store and sometimes more than what you might pay at an organic grocer, but potential cost saving isn’t the reason most people get involved.
“The reasons I belong to the CSA is that it’s local and it’s sustainable,” Russell says. “I just think these are the things to support.”
And while the CSA has never done a side-by-side comparison with vegetables from other sources, Russell says the quality of the produce is excellent.
“It was picked probably that morning or the day before,” she says. “There is no substitute for freshness.”
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