For people on the fence about whether or not to purchase a share in a CSA, there's really only one question: How much kale can you eat?
You can't predict, much less depend on, any other vegetable appearing in your weekly produce share. But CSA (community supported agriculture) boxes almost always have a head or two (or three, or six) of greens.
If you can make use of those greens, as well as all the other vegetables you're bound to receive in both big and small quantities (beets, cabbage, tomatoes, zucchini, squash), this may be the year to go the CSA route. By buying a share, you'll help a local farm sustain itself, and in return you'll get a weekly ration of veggies, which, in theory, will eliminate the need to make a weekly trip to the farmers' market. (Though CSA types can't really keep themselves away.…)
Here are a few CSAs we like to help you start shopping:
Angelic Organics—Multiple plans available; the biggest (and most expensive) share is $680 for 20 weeks.
Big Head Farm—For 22 weeks, full shares are $550, half shares are $275 and solo shares are $150. Fruit and egg subscriptions are available, also. This Michigan farm offers a weekly pick-up in Chicago.
Bob's Fresh and Local—20 weeks for $640, 18 weeks for $580 and 10 weeks for $405. This CSA offers a two week holiday share, just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas, for an additional $70.
C & D Family Farms—Four options for different sized shares of natural free range meats and eggs, the least expensive share is $210 for three months and $400 for six months.
Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm—Monthly and bimonthly pick-up options for eggs and naturally raised, drug and hormone free beef, pork and poultry. Three month share for $285, six months for $550 and 12 months for $1080.
Farmer Tom's—A year-round CSA. In the winter, the produce may not be local.
Fat Blossom Farm—A full share for 20 weeks is $550, half shares are $300. Various pick-up locations in Chicago.
Freedom Organix—18 weeks for $560, with a full egg share for an additional $108. Nine weeks for $340, with a half egg share for an additional $54. This CSA also offers shares of pastured pork, grass-fed beef and milk and grass-fed meadow veal.
Granor Farm—20 weekly shares for $700 and 10 bi-weekly shares for $360 in the summer. Six bi-weekly winter shares for $240.
Growing Home—Something unique about this CSA: In 2012, it's offering an "individual" size. ($805 full size or $550 individual size for 25 weeks).
Nichols Farm & Orchard—22 weeks of veggies only for $660. Fruits and veggies for two people for 22 weeks is $880 and a family share designed for four to five people is $1650 for 22 weeks.
Peasant's Plot—Our personal favorite. This small-scale CSA offers individual shares ($330 for 20 weeks) and family-size shares ($660 for 20 weeks).
Radical Root Farm—Four weeks in the spring for $130, 18 weeks in the summer for $565 and six weeks in the fall for $200. Shares available for all three seasons: 28 weeks for $875.