Remember when you discovered the verdant bounty at the farmers’ market—how you marveled at the dozens of lettuce varieties and the ruby-red tomatoes? Recapture that sense of wonder, and take your commitment to locally grown produce a step further, by joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program this summer.
Here’s how: Buy a “share” in one of the farms listed below, and you’ll get a portion of what’s harvested weekly for the length of the growing season (mid-May through October). You pick up your share each week from a drop-off location (often a CSA member’s garage). And if you want to get more involved, you can volunteer to help out on the farm and spend a day playing in the dirt. For more local CSAs, enter your zip code at www.localharvest.org.
Caledonia, 815-389-2746, www.angelicorganics.com
Crops Organic and biodynamic vegetables and herbs. (Biodynamics is an advanced form of organic gardening that focuses on soil health.)
Cost The 20-week share is sold out; 12-week shares are $370.
Drop-offs 24 sites throughout the city and suburbs
Extras Shoppers can add fruit, flowers or eggs (prices vary) and extend their share through December with winter vegetables for an additional $100.
Cedar Valley Sustainable
Ottawa, 815-431-9544, www.localharvest.org/farms/M5067
Crops Third-generation family farm converted to grow sustainable and organic produce, herbs, melons and flowers
Cost $350 for 24 weeks
Drop-offs Ottawa’s Saturday-morning market or at the farm, about 80 miles southwest of Chicago. The farm will help coordinate group pickups for members in Chicago or the suburbs.
Extras Cedar Valley has a longer season than many local CSAs, and offers the option of adding eggs for $2.50 per dozen.
Fresh Harvest Farm
Orland Park, 708-945-9993, www.localharvest.org/farms/M9251
Crops Sustainably grown lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, broccoli and other vegetables
Cost $520 full share, $320 half share
Drop-offs South and West Suburbs
Extras Melons are added to the mostly veggie crops—they’re growing four kinds this year, including two types of watermelon.
Green Earth Institute
Naperville, 630-664-5681, www.greenearthinstitute.org
Crops 40 different sustainably grown vegetables
Cost $550 for weekly share, $295 biweekly
Drop-offs Pickup is at the farm; some members alternate driving to Naperville.
Extras Green Earth is in the process of applying for organic certification.
Home Grown Wisconsin
Waterloo, WI, 608-333-1227, www.homegrownwisconsin.com
Crops It’s a co-op of 25 family farms, so there’s a greater variety of produce than most CSAs. All produce is certified organic.
Cost $500 weekly, $275 biweekly
Drop-offs Evanston, Northbrook, North Side
Extras Egg shares are available ($30 for ten weeks), and some of the farms hold on-site strawberry-, melon- and pumpkin-picking events.
M’s Organic Farm & Mountain Moon Herbal Care Products
Woodstock, 815-338-8148, www.localharvest.org/farms/M6694
Crops Lettuces, spinach, herbs and Asian greens such as bok choy
Cost $420 (21 weeks), $520 (includes five whole chickens), $620 (includes ten chickens)
Drop-offs North Riverside, Woodstock and possibly Logan Square (if there are enough city subscribers)
Extras Eggs, chickens, granola, homemade pesto and sauces (prices vary)
Neu Erth Wormfarm
Reedsburg, WI, 608-524-8672, www.wormfarminstitute.org
Crops 60 varieties of vegetables that are grown in accordance with organic standards but are not certified organic
Cost $475 full share, $275 half share
Drop-offs North Side, Oak Park, Skokie
Extras Membership includes one mandatory Saturday-night farm stay; you sleep in a separate apartment within the farmhouse with your own bath and kitchen. Working the land is optional, as is a second night stay.
Berlin, WI, 920-361-4747, www.prosperafarm.com
Crops Heirloom tomatoes, lettuces, pumpkins, herbs and other vegetables
Cost $435 for 15 weeks, $35 per month for a monthly subscription
Drop-offs At your house on the North Side and Loop, or pick up once a month in Ukrainian Village
Extras Options for a ten-week flower delivery ($75) or eggs ($40)
Grayslake, 847-548-4030, www.sandhillorganics.com
Crops Flowers; veggies like fennel, baby beets and heirloom tomatoes; and fruit from the Great Lakes region (like peaches, plums, berries)
Cost Ranges from $155 to $995, depending on size and length of share
Drop-offs West Loop, Oak Park, Glen Ellyn, other suburbs
Extras Fresh fruit and flower shares ($180 each)
Sweet Earth Organic Farm
Wauzeka, WI, 608-875-6026, www.sweetearthorganicfarm.com
Crops Certified organic and heirloom vegetables, plus herbs and some vine-ripened melons
Cost $485 full share, $375 for half share
Drop-offs City and suburbs, will add new locations if subscriber list warrants
Extras Sweet Earth charts when it expects to harvest different produce.