About Our CSA Program
What exactly is this?
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Join a CSA, and you become a member of a farm and receive a “share” of the food the farm produces. Bluestem Farm offers flexible, build-your-own shares featuring certified organic vegetables, pasture-raised pork, eggs, and chicken. Everything we offer was grown on our own farm.
Why should I join Bluestem Farm?
1. you choose what goes in the box
At Bluestem Farm, we offer not only certified organic vegetables, but also pasture-raised meats and eggs. Our winter vegetable and egg shares come to you every other week. Meat shares are given out once a month. With a couple clicks of our online order form, you can choose every single vegetable that goes in the box, or let the farmers pick the cream of the crop for you. Our certified organic vegetable shares come in small and medium sizes. If you need extra, you're welcome to order additional items a la carte each week.
2. MEMBERS ARE PRIORITY ONE
There are some vegetables and proteins we don’t sell at all to the general public, and some things we don't offer at farmers markets if we're experiencing a shortage. Our CSA members lock in their food in advance, so they get the best we have to offer.
3. WE'RE CERTIFIED ORGANIC
All of our vegetables, along with our pastures, fields, and woods are certified organic. To manage pests and crop diseases, we use intricate systems of cover cropping and crop rotation. Check out our article on organic farming in Clean Eating magazine if you'd like further details on our practices.
Our animals are raised on our own certified organic pasture as long as weather permits, and then they move indoors for shelter. Even in winter, they can always go outside. This is the real deal for pasture-raised protein.
Our pasture-raised meat and eggs are not certified organic. We purchase non-GMO grain from a local mill. This grain is never medicated with antibiotics. Our animals never receive hormone treatments. We would give them antibiotics only in the case of a true medical emergency, just as we would ourselves. This hasn't happened yet.
How do chicken shares work?
When do I pick up the chicken?
How do pork shares work?
When do I pick up the pork?
Chicken shares are distributed once a month, and come in the form of frozen, whole birds. Large chicken shareholders get six chickens per month, medium shares bring home four chickens per month, and small chicken shareholders get two per month. There are four distributions in the winter 2018-19 season. If you are unfamiliar with cooking with whole chicken, Mary has lots of ideas. From informational videos on cutting a chicken into parts to delicious recipes for stock, grilling, brining, and more, she’s happy to help you make the most of your share.
Once a month , on four occasions. These dates are timed to coincide with veggie and egg share pick-ups.
Pork shares are distributed once per month. The pork comes to you frozen. Please keep in mind the example shares listed below are intended only as an example, and aren’t meant to represent what is available every single month. A word on bacon: we know that everyone loves bacon, but because only about 10% of a pig is made up of bacon, only about 10% of each household’s pork share can consist of this marvelous food. Due to the constraints of porcine anatomy, we are unable to raise the quantities of bacon for individuals. Please note that the bacon in your pork share might take several forms. Cottage bacon, regular bacon, and guanciale are all delicious smoked and cured cuts of pork and can be used interchangeably.
Large Pork Shares
A large pork share equals about 12 pounds per month. That might look like a roast, a package of ribs, a couple pounds of pork chops, a smoked ham hock, a pound of plain ground pork, a pound of breakfast sausage, and a pound or two of bacon. (That's just an example.)
Regular Pork Shares
A regular pork share equals about 8 pounds per month. A typical regular share might look like a roast, a pound of pork chops, a smoked ham hock, a pound of plain ground pork, and a pound of bacon. (That's just an example.)
Small Pork Shares
A small pork share equals about 4 pounds per month. A typical small pork share might look like a pound of pork chops, a pound or two of ground pork, and a pound of breakfast sausage. Small pork shares get bacon only every-other month. We often don’t give larger cuts like roasts and ribs to small pork shareholders unless you let us know that you prefer them. (That's just an example.)
Once a month, on four occasions. Dates are timed to coincide with veggie and egg share pick-ups.
How many people does a Bluestem Farm CSA share feed?
Answering how many people a share feeds is always a little tricky since every household eats in a different way. Some people cook at home all the time, and some people go out a lot. Some people are really committed to eating local food, and others like having more exotic produce and convenience foods around the house. Some people feel overwhelmed with the unfamiliar vegetables that can crop up in a CSA share, and some people love being exposed to new foods.
In general, our medium winter shares are a good size for small families who cook most meals at home, or for one or two people who have the time and interest for cooking mainly farm food. Larger families who are interested in eating food primarily from the farm might need to purchase more than one share (I'm pretty sure the Browers would, and we're two adults and two little kids). Small shares tend to work well for couples, or for single people who like to cook and eat a good amount of vegetables.
If you find yourself purchasing at least $13 in fresh vegetables in the produce aisle each week, you ought to be just right for an extra small share.
When and where do I pick up the food?
How do payments work?
You decide whether to pay up front and save 3%, or divide the total up into four manageable installments. One payment is due when you sign up, one at the first pick-up in mid-November. The final two payments are due in mid-December and mid-January.
How many weeks total are in your CSA program?
Our winter CSA program runs for 16 weeks, from Thanksgiving week through late February. There are 8 pick ups, on alternate weeks.
Do I get to choose the food I want, or do you pick it out for me?
With a couple clicks of our online order form, you can choose what goes in the box, or let the farmers pick the cream of each week's crop for you. Our winter vegetable shares come in size small and size medium. Ordering is quick and convenient, and so is rescheduling a delivery. We also offer a swap box at each pick-up so you can further customize your share according to your household's wishes.
In general, what are the drawbacks and benefits of joining a CSA program?
Many small farms can also provide varieties that a grocer simply cannot offer. Most of all, the advantage to participating in a CSA program is the relationship between the farmers and the shareholders. We are accountable to you. You know where your food is coming from and how it is produced. We are available to answer your questions. You know us and we know you. Beyond having a personal relationship with the farm and farmers, our members get great food at a reasonable price. And CSA members are a huge support to small farmers, providing farms with much-needed operating investments.
However, there are responsibilities to CSA membership as well. You will need to come to pick up your food at the farm or at one of our five delivery locations at a specific time. Also, we do everything in our power to provide our members with outstanding and bountiful shares, but this is agriculture. Some years the squash does better than others. Some years offer great conditions for squash, but bad conditions for cabbage. One reason we grow a huge variety of crops is so we can offer replacements if certain crops suffer. We would never abandon our responsibilities to our members, but along with the shared reward of bountiful crops, CSA members also share the risk of the ancient and risky endeavor of growing food at the mercy of climate and other factors.
What happens to my share if I go away on vacation, or forget to pick up during a hectic week?
Going out of town for or just taking a long weekend off? Use our convenient online rescheduling tool to tell us you want to change your usual pick up to another time. If you're a Tuesday through Thursday member, we just need you to inform us of a schedule change before 8 pm on the night before your normal pick-up. For Saturday members, this re-scheduling cut-off is at noon on Friday.
If you know you're going to be away ahead of time, you're welcome to double up your share anytime in advance of the pick-up you're going to miss. We're also happy to give you a double share at some point in the weeks ahead. You can also choose to pick up at the farm or at any of our other off-farm delivery sites throughout the week.
If none of the above options work for you, it can sometimes work to have a friend to pick up for you on the day you're going to miss.
If you forget to tell us about a schedule change until the day of or after your regular pick-up occurs, please understand we won't be able to re-make you a fresh box of food, and we may need to either donate or compost the food if it's not picked up in time.