Monday, August 19, 2019Light Snow -5°C
Food

Community Supported Agriculture: Get Yourself A Montreal Summer Vegetable Basket

Posted by Amie / April 25, 2011

Montreal Community Supported Agriculture CSA organicsWe're over the hump! Spring is here and that means it's time to start dreaming about fresh produce that doesn't come from California or Mexico. It's also the time to sign up for summer baskets of fresh fruits and vegetables straight from local farms to be delivered to very close to your home weekly or bi-weekly all summer long. Here's what you need to know.

Ever heard of Community Supported Agriculture or CSAs? It's where you sign up for boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables (and sometimes meats and local specialty products) and get the produce delivered straight from your farm of choice in weekly deliveries to drop-off points around the city. The produce, usually picked that day or earlier in the week, is most often organic and is the most economic way to ensure yourself the freshest greens, peppers, tomatoes, and beans, radishes, beets, carrots, etc. all summer long.

How to Shop for a Farm

Maybe not every Montrealer is as obsessed with local, fresh fruits and vegetables as I am, but for me choosing the right farm can be as hard and as individual as choosing the right significant other. I want one that's reliable (weekly baskets arrive on time at the drop-off point), adventurous (variety is the spice of life: heirloom varieties of tomatoes, candy-cane beets and lemongrass), and most importantly there has to be more than a spark - there has to be fire (I'm serious...I would be completely happy receiving a pound of jalapeno or habanero chili peppers every week), but maybe all you want are heaps and heaps of beefsteak tomatoes, some green peppers, carrots, and lettuce, and that's fine too.

The easiest way to choose a farm is by going to the Equiterre website and searching by the drop-off point closest to your house. You won't need a car, and you won't need a baby because you'll have no room for it in your stroller. (If you have a baby already and your stroller is in use, you may want to invest in a Grandmother-style grocery cart or a large bike basket to collect your weekly vegetable box...)

The instructions on Equiterre's interactive map are only in French, so here's the translation:
1. Click here
2. Using the map on the link above find a drop-off point close to where you live or somewhere convenient for you where your basket can be delivered.
3. Click on your drop-off point of choice and on the page that pops up choose one of the available farms that drops off at that location.
4. Then contact that farm directly to become a partner. There's usually an online form on the farm website, or a person to email. Read up on the farm, what they offer, their prices and payment options, and what they require from you before purchasing.

You may know what farm you want to subscribe to but can't find their drop-off location on the Equiterre map, so just contact them directly (Ex: Ferme Zéphyr - anybody know where they drop off? They're not listed at NDG's Coop La Maison Verte, which is one of the points where they'll be delivering their heirloom varieties of seedlings that you can pre-order online or buy there on Saturday mornings come May).

Sometimes the closest drop-off points to you only have fruits or only have meat (or in the case of the Atwater Market, aren't CSA drop-off points at all...), so here's another unlisted option:

Coop Les Jardins de la Résistance operates its CSA out of Concordia's Le Frigo Vert, UQAM Science Campus, and other points in NDG and Pointe Ste-Charles.

How Much Does it Cost?

The general concept is that you agree to pay a fixed price, usually $15-$20/week for a small box for one person or up to $40/week for a large basket for four people. But you subscribe to a farm for an entire season, which allows a farm to cover the costs of planting and harvesting that they have to bear until they actually have crops to sell in the summer.

Some farms require that you pay upfront, which at $15 per week for 20 weeks means $300, or for a family-size subscription can mean up to $800 for the entire season, BUT others have different payment options, such as 50% upfront or a certain number of memberships reserved for low-income families. The amount of total money may seem like a lot, but it'll cover a huge part of your weekly grocery bill (and it's basically the same cost as getting a pizza delivered), and compared to buying organics or even non-organics at grocery store prices, it's an amazing deal that simultaneously supports local organic farms.

The Risks

You don't know if a farm is going to have a good year or not - maybe their tomato crop will suck because of the rain, or some pest will rename August "extended lunchtime" - but instead of that farm losing a ton of money and not being able to pay its workers or invest in equipment, or plant as much the following year when it may rain at more appropriate times, your subscription guarantees that they can stick around to try again.

The Advantages

1. Your subscription cost is fixed and you're invested in the farm, so if the tomato crop is enormous, you'll get more of the deliciously sweet tomatoes or in your basket. Or even if it's small, you may get more zucchini or more peppers instead. Often farms have exchange programs with other farms so if they don't have cucumbers one week they can make an agreement to trade with another local farm that has too many cucumbers but not enough bok choy.

2. The farms will love you and invite you for tours and special events. They offer recipes and you'll be part of the farm community. That's pretty quaint.

3. Sometimes you can even order extra produce from them at discounted prices, or organic meats, cheeses, and berries from neighbouring farms to supplement your diet of way too much eggplant. For some reason it seems to always be a good year for eggplant...good thing it's delicious and there are a million things you can do with it.

4. If you have allergies or dietary restrictions the farms are accommodating. And if you don't like a certain vegetable some farms let you trade it for a different one when you pick up. Ferme Zéphyr lets you exchange vegetables at farmers markets where they sell weekly to unsubscribed organics-lovers.

Note: Some farms have work requirements. Zéphyr, for example, asks that you give 5 hours of work to the farm by weeding or harvesting at the once-a-month work Saturdays, by taking website photos, researching recipes, doing translation, by organizing the farm's annual harvest party, or with administration.

5. All the cool kids are doing it: Over 30,000 Quebecers sign up for summer basket programs! That's in addition to all the hipsters I've seen at local organic markets. Maybe they just walk around the markets because they know it's the place to be, and then they go home and cook their CSA-bought eggplant. Actually the only real disadvantage of being a member of a summer basket program is that you can't cherry-pick what vegetables you get each week, since it depends on what's in season and what the farm grows. So in addition to your weekly pound of eggplant, you'll probably still be buying mushrooms or corn at local markets to round out your diet.

BUT! At Lufa Farms, a $3 million commercial greenhouse located on top of an abandoned building near Marché Central you can subscribe to their basket program and eventually be able to actually go online and choose what vegetables you want in your basket each week.

To listen to an interview with Lufa Farms founder and president, Mohamed Hage, on the greenhouse project, urban agriculture, and vine-fresh tomatoes, click the stream below. Can you guess what the greenhouse has a ton of? Yup, eggplant. Better learn to love it.

Here's to a delicious summer! Oh, and if you are reliable, adventurous, and hot (in terms of capsaicin), contact me at amie@midnightpoutine.ca

Photo: "Tomatoes at Lufa Farms" by Amie Watson

Discussion

21 Comments

guide to getting the motorcycle license / November 3, 2012 at 05:12 am
user-pic
Wow, fantastic weblog layout! How lengthy have you ever been running a
blog for? you make running a blog glance easy. The
entire look of your website is wonderful, let alone the content!
12 month infant clothes / March 13, 2013 at 07:45 am
user-pic
I am genuinely glad to glance at this web site posts which includes plenty of valuable data, thanks
for providing such data.
portable induction cooktop / December 28, 2013 at 01:08 am
user-pic
Good day! I know this is kinda off topic nevertheless
I'd figured I'd ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest writing a blog post or vice-versa?
My blog addresses a lot of the same subjects as yours and I think we could
greatly benefit from each other. If you happen to be interested
feel free to send me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from
you! Wonderful blog by the way!
youtube.com / February 14, 2014 at 08:54 pm
user-pic
Thanks on your marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it, you may be
a great author. I will remember to bookmark your blog and will come back from now on.
I want to encourage one to continue your great work, have a nice weekend!
genevievec.soup.io / March 3, 2014 at 05:42 pm
user-pic
He currently has over 22 miles of bicycle lanes on its city streets.
Claims that the Affordable Care Act is contributing to heart disease.
But many report haqving health care was nothing more han a condition of indolence and suffering which can be the key health
leads factor leading tto sustained weighht loss.
microwave combination Ovens / March 21, 2014 at 01:06 pm
user-pic
I really like what you guys are up too. This kind of clever work
and coverage! Keep up the amazing works guys I've you guys to our
blogroll.
Canon Camera batteries / June 15, 2014 at 04:50 am
user-pic
Yes! Finally someone writes about gold watches.
Rena / August 9, 2014 at 06:39 am
user-pic
With havin so much written content do you ever run into any
issues of plagorism or copyright violation? My website has a lot of exclusive content I've either created myself
or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping
it up all over the web without my authorization. Do you know any ways to help prevent
content from being stolen? I'd genuinely appreciate it.
agences immobilieres a kaysersberg / September 30, 2014 at 03:12 am
user-pic

?Il faut transpirer d'autres mots a pour vérifier les dans le
tissu agence immobiliere a xl pont a mousson cheveux pour détruire fonctionnement de l'administration en fait porté a commencé à
un pommeau de


agences immobilieres a draguignan

agences immobilieres a en anglais

agences immobilieres cherbourg

agences immobilieres saint malo

agence immobiliere tours
HaNtu / February 4, 2015 at 07:21 am
user-pic
Certainly I like your website, hovewer you have to take a look at the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very bothersome to inform you. On the other hand I will surely come again again!VA:F [1.9.10_1130]please wait...VA:F [1.9.10_1130](from 0 votes)
immobilier / February 8, 2015 at 06:22 pm
user-pic
A motivating discussion is worth comment. I do think that you need to
publish more about this subject matter, it might not be a taboo matter but generally
people do not talk about these topics. To the next! Cheers!!
AnibalJFunderberg / July 18, 2015 at 09:21 am
user-pic
Hurrah, that's what I was exploring for, what a stuff! present here at
this webpage, thanks admin of this website.
spy whatsapp apk / August 21, 2015 at 05:43 am
user-pic
Fine way of describing, and pleasant paragraph to take facts concerning my presentation subject matter, which i am going to deliver in institution of higher education.
phone detective review / October 23, 2015 at 10:05 pm
user-pic
What's up, I would like to subscribe for this weblog to get most up-to-date updates, thus where can i do it please help out.
Kanchipuram sarees / June 6, 2018 at 11:53 pm
user-pic
nice post
golu dolls / June 6, 2018 at 11:53 pm
user-pic
nice post
navarathri golu / January 17, 2019 at 02:11 am
user-pic
nice post
kanchipuramsarees / January 17, 2019 at 02:12 am
user-pic
nice post
kanchipuramsarees / January 17, 2019 at 02:12 am
user-pic
nice post
herbal powder / January 17, 2019 at 02:12 am
user-pic
nice post
Gardening / April 22, 2019 at 10:54 pm
user-pic
T?e ice no? formed around the grass will inseulate it from ?our worst
fr?m the cold, equally ?s snow will ?o. ? spiun dryer is
? bit more efficient tan the usual tumble clothes dryer
?ecause it wil? pay for itself within ?ts operaational
lifetime with savings ?n electricity. If mayb? you happen to become thinnking on growing orchids ?t your house .
as indoor exhibits t?en yo? definitel? mu?t put s?me considerable th?ught into acquiring t?e proper sort ?f pot or basket.

Add a Comment

Other Cities: Toronto