Community supported agriculture (CSA) is truly a wonderful thing for farmers in need of stable income and families in need of fresh weekly groceries. It allows for direct connections between farmers and customers, and for communities to come together over fresh local food. But what about the people who can't commit to 24 continuous weeks of vegetables? Or the overscheduled among us who can barely find time to properly store the bumper crop of lettuce, much less pick it up?
A number of companies are springing up around the country, bringing local CSA-quality vegetables directly from the farm to your door on a weekly subscription basis. Some curate a box for you—keeping your love of cabbage in mind—while others allow you to pick the contents. All source from regional farms, typically those utilizing organic methods (if not completely certified), and those already supplying regional CSAs. Each of these services also has opt-out options so you can take a week, month, or even a season off without penalty. This is good news for both the CSA-shy customer and the farmer, who doesn't have to spend precious time transporting or marketing their goods.
With backing from some prominent members of the local sustainable food scene and an emphasis on transparency during every step of the process, customers can be assured of the production methods and quality of their produce. Here's a guide to 11 farm-to-table delivery services across the country.
Colorado, Kansas City, Michigan, Chicago, Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware
Door-to-Door Organics started its organic-only service in Colorado, only to expand to Kansas City, Michigan, Chicago, and the Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware market after a merge with Suburban Organics. Each office sources from a local network of farmers, and you're free to substitute in another area's produce if you haven't already chosen the "Local" option. Prices vary by region, ranging from about $25 for the "Little" or "Bitty" options to about $55 for the "Large," with only one market currently requiring a $1 delivery charge. They also allow customers to have a per-box discount by forming a co-op where four or more orders are delivered to the same location. doortodoororganics.com
New York City
Many of New York City's foodies have been raving about the recently launched Quinciple. Weekly boxes come complete with at least two meal's worth of groceries—a recent box included local yogurt alongside Tristar strawberries—with recipes to boot. The owners want to focus on local products, but are willing to ship in high-quality goods from elsewhere, like rice from Louisiana's Cajun Grain. Home delivery is limited to lower Manhattan neighborhoods, with a weekly box costing $49.90, while those opting for Brooklyn pick-ups or office delivery pay $37.90. quinciple.com
Washington DC/Baltimore/Northern Virginia
Residents of the Washington DC/Baltimore/Northern Virginia area can choose from two popular services: From the Farmer and Washington's Green Grocer. The latter has been delivering produce and dry goods since 1994. Run by Zeke and Lisa Zechiel, it offers a range of boxes, from the $27 "Mixed Single" to the $46 "Large Organic," with at least one specific "Locals Only" option. In addition to your vegetables and fruit, your delivery can include anything your kitchen, needs from beef sticks to Daisy flour. washingtonsgreengrocer.com
From the Farmer is the newer entry into the market from Nick Phelps and Jason Lundberg, friends who wanted a service that sources exclusively from local producers. From the Farmer currently offers three box sizes, with a price range between $35 and $55. Due to their relative newness, the number of farms involved is limited, but they do offer bread from Lyon Bakery. fromthefarmerdc.com
Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona and Atlanta, Georgia
Nature's Garden Delivered brings the farm to Phoenix, Tucson, and Atlanta residents with more than just their weekly boxes; their blog features monthly videos highlighting a different producer in their network. With flexibility in mind, they allow customers to choose weekly or biweekly boxes that can also be picked up at a local co-op instead of door delivery, and prices ranges from $28 to $55. As for non-produce items, customers can incorporate meat, dairy, eggs, and even organic dog biscuits, among other things. naturesgardendelivered.com
Sustainable farms and residents of Texas work with Farmhouse Delivery and Greenling, two farm-to-door services in the area. Both deliver beautiful-looking produce bushels, with the option of adding on other local staple items including pecans and tortillas. The difference comes down to membership: Greenling's (serving Central Texas, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and Houston) prices range from $18.99 to $34, while Farmhouse Delivery (serving Austin and Houston) is a little pricier at $37 to $39 per delivery, plus a $20 set-up fee. In return, they host farm trips, happy hours, and potlucks for their members, just like a CSA. farmhousedelivery.com and greenling.com
Chicago, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin
MIT graduates Irv Cernauskas and Shelly Herman started Irv & Shelley's Fresh Picks after successful careers creating markets for local farmers and helping underserved areas. Now they run year-round deliveries of fruit and vegetables produced with no chemicals, hormones or GMOs to residents of Chicago, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin (note that they do supplement local goods with certified organic ones from other regions in the colder months). Box options include the $15 all-vegetable single, a $50 "Cleanse," and the $25 "Immunity Kit;" all boxes have an additional $5.50 delivery fee with a $1 fuel surcharge. freshpicks.com
In Portland, the farm-to-door delivery service is Organics to You. Their assorted produce boxes can be as small as the $27 "For One" or the $60 "Value" that includes 15-17 items. They also offer $15 themed add-ons — the "Italian" option comes with crimini mushrooms, while the "Latin" one has avocados — as well as pantry and protein needs like wild Alaskan Coho Salmon and cheese curds. organicstoyou.org
San Francisco Bay Area, California
Residents of California's Bay Area have been jumping on the Good Eggs bandwagon. Serving neighborhoods from Mountain View to Marin County, the company allows customers to pick their own groceries, and everything from eggs to kitchen towels are available from a network of the area's best producers. It's delivered to your door within 48 hours for a $3.99 fee, or you can choose to pick up your order from designated drop-off points. The company is also in the midst of expanding to Brooklyn and New Orleans. goodeggs.com
Los Angeles, California
Down the coast, Los Angeles is home to one of the larger farm-to-door services: Out of the Box Collective. Founder Jennifer Piette says she missed the quality produce options she had come to love while living in Europe, and was frustrated by the lack of food dollars staying within local economies. With Out of the Box Collective, customers get a a broad variety of Southern California produce and extras like local wine. Customers can have have the company curate weekly meals —
boxes come in "Couples" ($160) and "Family" ($195) sizes, or elect to make their own. Deliveries under $50 receive a $15 charge. outoftheboxcollective.com
About the author: The non-Blondie half of Blondie & Brownie, Siobhan Wallace fits in writing and promoting her book New York à la Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple's Best Food Trucks, while working towards her MA in Food Studies from NYU. You can follow her on Twitter at @blondiebrownie.