Monday, August 24, 2009

Breaking down the veggie box

When I moved from Seattle to Vancouver almost 3 years ago, I was amazed by the strength of the local food movement and shocked by the lack of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms.

Those of you that are unfamiliar with the CSA concept should definitely check out this wikipedia page: In brief, eaters pay one lump sum for a share of veggies/fruit/meat/eggs/etc. that they then receive regularly during the growing season. CSAs are great for eaters because they provide an easy way for folks to get all of their fruit, veggie (and sometimes meat) needs met by a local farm that they become an integral part of. CSAs are great for farmers because they have a guaranteed income that they receive at the beginning of the season. The idea is that eaters help farmers shoulder risk and benefit accordingly- when the harvest is bountiful the weekly share is gigantic, when the harvest is slim or a crop fails, the weekly share is smaller.

Back in Seattle, it took me awhile to convince my partner Dutch that we should get a CSA share at Growing Things Farm ( But once we did, there was no going back- we both loved it and it totally changed the way we ate. The Seattle area has dozens of CSA farms and there is a fair amount of diversity among them. Some do home delivery, some leave shares at designated drop-off spots (often at farmer's markets), and some require that customers pick up at the farm. Prices and box sizes also vary. However, one thing is constant: farmers are paid directly by thier customers.

After arriving in Vancouver, we were frustrated to learn that there were very few CSA farms and that most foodies got their vegetables through a few delivery companies that act as middle men between farmers and eaters. Dutch and I tried a few of these services and even found one that we liked, but they all paled in comparison to our CSA.

I am very proud to say that many friends in Vancouver have begun putting a hold on thier delivery service to receive a weekly veggie box from Skeeter Farm. Yay!

Of course, we didn't feel comfortable running a full-blown CSA this year at Skeeter Farm. The long and the short of it is that we had no idea how many veggies we would actually be able to grow. But the demand for our weekly veggie boxes is growing and it may make sense for us to head towards a full-meal-deal CSA next year...Regardless of what path we take at Skeeter, I am very happy to be familiarizing people in the Lower Mainland with the concept of making a committment to paying farmers directly for their produce throughout the season.


  1. We finally got in on a box on the third (fourth?) week of delivery. Darn those vacations!

    So much food!

    So far, we've made a kale and chard soup, penne with zucchini, a tuna dill farfalle (OK, only the Skeeter dill in that one, but still..), and portobello mushroom burgers (no burger) topped with lettuce with grilled corn on the side.

    I'm not allowed to eat the potatoes for squirrely health reasons, but in a coup for local food, we traded all but a few held for Rachel off to our neighbours who regularly give us with goodies from their garden!

  2. Hannah,
    What a fantastic idea. Congrats on your success. I really admire what your farm is doing, and I wish I lived close enough to order veggie boxes from you.

  3. Hi Hannah!

    This whole farming gig of yours is way cool, and I'm very pleased that you're blogging about it. I find it really interesting to read about the long chain of steps that precedes the final farmer/eater transaction, which is all that most of us ever experience -- for me, learning more about the process is an important aspect of eating local and trying to become better acquainted with where my food comes from. So, keep it up, and best of luck!

    Also, I really liked your comment that your first CSA share "totally changed the way we ate". Meg and I had a similar epiphany when we first joined a CSA scheme, and we still love the whole ordeal: coming up with creative ways to combine the produce we have on hand, becoming more resourceful cooks to prevent things from getting wasted, trying new vegetables we would never have bought from the has all made the preparation and consumption of our food a more vivid and fulfilling experience. Plus, we get to go back the next week and tell our farmer how awesome the food was!

    I don't know if we'll ever be in your "jurisdiction", but Meg and I will certainly need to come visit your beautiful little farm someday...

  4. Heya!

    Hannah, thanks so much for dropping the bag off right on our table! I totally figured you'd just gently drop it onto the porch! The flowers are totally lovely and we are loving the sour grapes. That property is just full of surprises eh?

    I think the most creative thing we've done with the veggies was spring rolls, which were pretty much zuchini rolls.

    If you all do the full-blown CSA next year, we'll be totally onboard!

    Colleen (Amy's friend)