What is Community Supported Agriculture and what does a WFCF share offer?
Community Supported Agriculture refers to a model of farming in which farmers sell harvest shares in the "off-season" (vegetables, flowers, meat, etc.) directly to people in the local community. It was adopted in America from Japanese and European models, largely as a response to the disappearance of the small farm. CSA represents a shared commitment - shareholders commit to the farm for the season, providing farmers with secure income when expenses are highest and farmers commit to doing their utmost to provide their shareholders with the best-quality, most nutritious food around. This direct connection between farmer and consumers bypasses middlemen (e.g., marketers, long distance shippers), benefits the farmer by increasing farm revenue in the early part of the season when many of our expenditures take place, benefits the environment by decreasing packaging and pollution, and benefits consumers by providing fresh, high-quality produce at competitive prices.
Share the risk, share the bounty.
CSA brings together community members, farmers and agricultural land in a relationship of mutual support based on an annual commitment to one another. There are many kinds of CSAs that take many different forms. At Waltham Fields Community Farm, people purchase a "share" of the anticipated harvest and make payment in advance at an agreed price. In exchange, the farmers plant, cultivate, harvest, wash and distribute a bountiful selection of vegetables and flowers, their peak ripeness.
We see the CSA model as building long-term relationships between households and the farm. The farmer and shareholders become partners in the production, distribution, and consumption of locally grown food. The real benefits on both sides are realized over many seasons, as shareholders engage with us and the land, increasing our community's collective understanding of sustainable agriculture, promoting public health and nutrition, sharing knowledge, and nurturing our soils for the future. A challenging season is educational for all of us, while we share the rewards of a bountiful season.
As a CSA shareholder, you are pre-paying for our commitment to give our best effort to provide you with a 110% return on your investment in value, but you are also making your own commitment to supporting the sustainability of local farms through assuming the risks inherent in farming. In a good season, you will receive excellent value; in a challenging year, you may receive less. That said, we have a strong track record of success, with a reputation for high quality and great value.
WFCF CSA Description
Starting in June, shareholders visit the Waltham Fields Community Farm to pick their vegetables. See the box to the right for specific pickup days and hours.
Our farmers bring in the harvest, with 10-15 different crops in the mix, and offer you the option to choose 6-9 of these vegetables to pack up in your own bags and take home. Amounts available for each crop are predetermined by our farmers. Shareholders choose what items they like, customizing the share each week to their own tastes. Some crops may be limited, and others abundant, depending on the week and weather.
While our farmers harvest the majority of crops for pick-up in the barn, shareholders can round out their weekly share with an array of pick-your-own crops. Pick-your-own maps and lists of quantities are made available to shareholders each week, and the farm is open every day during daylight hours for shareholders to pick these crops. PYO crops include herbs, cherry and plum tomatoes, chilies, peas and more. Our weekly CSA newsletters keep shareholders updated on the progress of the crops and the ups and downs of the season. Besides in-person interactions at CSA distributions, the e-mailed newsletter is the primary way that our farmers communicate with shareholders and keep them informed about our systems, techniques, and challenges. We ask all shareholders to read the newsletters each week and feel free to chat with our farm staff at distributions. See our Frequently Asked Questions for more details about CSA logistics.
There is no work requirement associated with our CSA program, although shareholders are certainly welcome to join us in the fields and office as a volunteer! Each year, our nonprofit organization grows 20% of our harvests for food assistance in Greater Boston and we provide hundreds of low-income community members hands-on educational opportunities in our Learning Garden. This charitable work depends on volunteer assistance from working in the fields, helping with office tasks, coordinating fundraisers, and serving on WFCF's Board of Directors. You can also organize a volunteer visit from your workplace, school or community group to the farm. More information on volunteering with us is available in the Get Involved section of the site.
We have Summer Shares, Extended Season Shares, and Flower Shares. All of our crops are grown adhering to strict organic production methods. Payment is received up front for shares of the crops that will be grown during the upcoming farming season and distributed in seasonal installments. All shares are picked up at the farm, giving shareholders a strong connection to the land, open space and our farm staff.
*As part of our Food Access Program, Half-Price CSA Shares are available for low-income households. To see if you qualify, please read the USDA WIC Income guidelines here. If your household is eligible, we’d love to talk with you more about it. Please contact Erinn to let her know about your interest.
All Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares require a $35 Annual Membership per household which directly supports our Food Access, Outreach and Education programs. Membership is valid for one year.
Our commitment to sustainable farming.
Since 1995, we have grown our vegetable crops at Waltham Fields Community Farm using organic practices. We use only materials approved by the Organic Materials Review Institute for pest control and fertility management. We manage our soil to grow nutritious, healthy, vigorous, delicious food without the use of synthetic chemicals. While we are not certified organic, our commitment to sustainability in and out of the fields is ongoing.
We encourage CSA shareholders to ask our farm staff about our farming practices, and we make it a habit to communicate those practices through our CSA newsletter. We invite all our shareholders to join us in the fields for a firsthand taste of sustainable farming practices.
Because we believe that fresh, local food should be available to all members of our community, we also partner with several local organizations to provide our vegetables to needy families and individuals. You can support our hunger relief work by making a contribution.
2019 CSA REGISTRATION IS OPEN!
See our HOW TO JOIN page for information about purchasing shares.