Wild Gourd Farm

Organic Gardening in St. Louis City

In Response to a Question about Local CSAs & Co-ops

Hey guys I was wondering if you could talk about CSA’s & co-ops? I’m looking for input on local ones and want suggestions. Right now I’m torn between Azure Standard which is not local, they are from Oregon. Or this website I found called communityhelpingscoop.com which is some kinda csa that delegates by municipalities but doesn’t list who the producers are-very weird. I found Local Harvest csa listing site but it wasn’t very clear who would was the product supplier either. I know about Fair Shares and am not interested in them. They are overpriced and not broad enough. Like I said, I want to support a local csa/co-op but haven’t found anything as good as Azure, other than going to the farmer’s market. But even that seems to be not all local as well, which I find to be a contradiction in terms. Let me know your thoughts on this!

Monica

Monica, if everyone asked these questions and followed through, we could do some real change.  I don’t think you can go wrong with the options you’ve researched.  Becca was a member of Fair Shares in their first year and it was ok.  They are a multi-farm CSA with some decent options and multiple pick up sites, but it is a bit pricey.  We split it with our neighbor, which worked out because he took the meat that was offered.  It was a great opportunity to learn how to cook with new ingredients.  In our opinion the pluses of a CSA are getting high quality produce, supporting local organic farms and being introduced to new varieties of vegetables.  The negatives are forking over large sums of cash at once and having a limited choice in the share.

We’ve had little experience with co-ops, but we do know that they can be a better option than shopping at most grocery stores.  Getting involved in a local group reduces shipping costs and allows you to buy in bulk at a reduced rate.  I don’t think the co-op we participated in offered 100% local fare, but it seems like there are some that do.

As far as stores go, Sappington Market and Local Harvest are consistently stocked with local and organic products.  We prefer to buy whatever produce we don’t grow ourselves at the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market, where most of the vendors are local, seasonal, organic farmers. Schlafly Bottleworks also has a market on Wednesdays in season, and the Downtown market, an off-shoot of the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market, just started last year.   The Soulard Farmers’ Market is cheaper, but, as you pointed out, most of it is shipped in from California and Mexico; however, we’ve found a couple local, organic vendors.

I like the idea of picking up a CSA share at the farm to meet the farmer and see the land, maybe even harvest a portion of the share myself.  Yellow Tree Farm and Earth Dance Farms are both providing CSAs in St. Louis this year.  We have both websites linked on our blog.

We would love to provide a small CSA in the St. Louis area for friends and family someday.  We have a ways to go, but we learn sooo much every year. We’ve recently increased our garden space 6x what it was last year.  Hopefully this year’s harvest is more than we can eat, so we can share our excess with you!

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6 responses to “In Response to a Question about Local CSAs & Co-ops

  1. Jill Simons March 4, 2011 at 12:06 am

    Hey all! My two cents as someone who doesn’t even live in your state is that you should do both a CSA (for local produce) and something like Azure (for bulk items and other sundries that aren’t local anyway). I am in a buying club here in Portland and we collectively make orders with Azure. It is pretty awesome. You can get all of those things you would get at your local health food store for sometimes half the price. Things like brown rice, quinoa, olive oil, nuts, nut butters, tea, yogurt, coconut oil…basically anything packaged. And here’s the kicker: They deliver it right to your door if you organize a group and meet their minimum dollar amount, which is easy to do with a group of 10 people! Their website is azurestandard.com.

    • We Will Work for Food March 5, 2011 at 5:43 pm

      Thanks for your insights, Jill! Combining a CSA and co-op sounds like the way to go. We’ve gotta get a group together here; there are only a few grocery stores that have bulk aisles, and those that do are pretty overpriced.

      Monica, we’re in if you’re in! Let’s get some people together! Who else is in?!

  2. Monica March 7, 2011 at 12:11 am

    @Jill, thank you for the insight into Azure. It’s nice to hear a personal account of working with them. I really feel drawn to Azure despite it not being local because of the research I’ve done over the past week into our local options. Could you elaborate on the delivery to your door aspect of it? Because when I called Azure to inquire about creating a STL drop point I was told there was one already established in Des Pere ( a suburb far away ) and we would have to pick up items on a set day & time. Does it work differently on the west coast since it’s kinda local for you.
    @WWFF, if I decide for certain that Azure is for me then I’d love to go in with you guys!

  3. Pingback: Azure Standard in St. Louis City | Will Work for Food

  4. Jill Smith April 3, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    In response to your question about CSA’s and Co-op’s, for me a CSA was more expensive than I really wanted to go. I do belong to the Community Helpings Co-op, I have been part of the co-op for about 3 years. We love it. The best part for my family and I is that we get items in our produce basket that we have never had before, so we have learned to like all kinds of new things. I love the freshness of the produce that we get. Community Helpings Co-op uses local farmers when possible, but due to the short growing season in this area it isn’t always possible. Also, there are some items that will NEVER be grown in the Midwest such as bananas, pineapples, citrus fruit, avocados, I know there are more things but those are just the ones I could quickly think of. Thru the co-op that I belong to there are also many extra items that you can buy and with these items they try to get local products when they can. Such as pizza crust which is from St. Louis Custom Crust, another is the tortilla chips, spinach, sun-dried tomatoe, wheat and flour tortillas from San Luis Tortilla Company (again another St. Louis Co.). Also, they have many jellies, jams and fruit butters from an Amish Company in IL. The idea of the co-op is to use as much local produce as possible, and they are always trying to carry more and more other items from local companies. Also, there is a special order list of dry goods that can be ordered on a monthly basis. The produce is every other week delivery, and delivered year round. Yes, we do want to eat healthy even in the winter months. There are about 30 locations thru out the St. Louis and metro east area. New groups are starting all the time, and if there is not one in your area contact them to see if there will be one soon. By the way the website for the co-op is http://www.communityhelpingscoop.com also, there is no long term commitment or anything like that. Good luck on what ever you decide to do but I am truly happy with the co-op.

    • We Will Work for Food April 8, 2011 at 7:28 am

      Wow, Jill, thanks for all the information! Our friend Monica organized a drop for Azure Standard here in the city, and we got the first delivery last week. We were happy to be supporting an organic family farm, though there are some products that they source from other organic suppliers and farms. It’d be great to support local St. Louis businesses as well. How wonderful to hear about other great opportunities in our area!

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