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Guide to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Programs in Orange County

Photo courtesy of South Coast Farms

Photo courtesy of South Coast Farms

For me one of the simplest ways to think about healthy eating is the rudimentary idea of asking myself “would my great grandparents have eaten this?” If the answer is yes, chances are it’s a good bet it’s something that my family and I should be ingesting; if the answer is no, you can wager it’s not that great of an idea, for one reason or another.

Another rule of thumb is to shop the perimeter isles of the supermarket (think produce, meat, dairy), although it seems in the last decade the supermarkets are on to that trick and have placed their produce sections smack dab in the middle of the store!

These ideas may be an oversimplification, yes, but as a rule of thumb it keeps my family away from prepackaged, processed food loaded with preservatives, chemicals and artificial flavors and dyes.

photo 4

Example of a Spring Tanaka Farms CSA box.

But what happens when shopping in the produce and meat sections of your supermarket for food your great grandparents would’ve eaten does not actually yield the same result as what your great grandparents would’ve enjoyed at their dinner table?

With the growing concern over Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and the fact that the sticker on that organic apple from your supermarket indicates it was imported from Chile (thousands of miles from Orange County), one would be hard pressed to say much of the food we eat would have actually been consumed by our great grandparents.

However, do not be alarmed: there is a light at the end of this depressing tunnel. In my opinion one of the best ways to feed your family and enhance your health is by eating seasonal and local (and organic, when possible) food because it is the most nutritious and environmentally responsible, and it is actually what your great grandparents would have eaten. (Yay!) There wouldn’t have been a jet plane to fly in that apple from South America; they would have eaten what was grown in their town, or the town next to them. Our great grandparents didn’t have to worry about GMOs, and while still a difficult dilemma to sort through, if you’re buying organic produce from a local farmer you trust, chances are you don’t have to worry about them either.

photo 1

CSA produce, washed, prepped and ready to enjoy throughout the week.

Last month we published the Guide to Orange County Farmer’s Markets, which can give you a great start at eating seasonally, locally and organically.  Another fabulous way in which to do this is through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

CSAs are a way in which to buy seasonal, local, and most of the time organic, produce from local farmers.  It is a sort of subscription where consumers from the community pledge to financially support a local farm so that the farmland and its bounty becomes, in a sense, the community’s. In this model, farmers and consumers share in the risks and benefits of farming. Typcially consumers pay upfront for a specified subscription period (although many CSAs allow installment payments) and in return they receive a box of seasonal farm-fresh produce every week (or every other week).

Advantages of a CSA: local, seasonal, often organic produce that is the freshest available (often picked just a day or two before it gets to your table); opportunity to know where your food comes from and the people who grow it (most of the time you will pick up your CSA basket directly from the farm); incentive to try new fruits and vegetables you might otherwise forgo (kohlrabi on anyones normal shopping list?); good harvests are passed on to CSA members.

Disadvantages: limited flexibility (you have to pick up your boxes on a certain day, time and location); no choice in produce (you get whatever the farm is harvesting in a particular week, with no substitutions); produce that is not picked up (due to vacation, illness, etc.) is generally donated; poor harvests (due to unfavorable weather or pests) are passed on to CSA members.

CSA Basket

Photo courtesy of South Coast Farms

According to the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) there are currently more than 400 CSA farms in the United States.** We have compiled a list of seven that service Orange County.  CSAs aren’t just for the vegetable lovers among us either, a number of those on our list offer specialty items such as nuts, eggs and honey, and one is focused solely on grass fed beef (“hooray” say all the meat loving husbands!)

I have personally belonged to or seen produce from three of these CSAs and let me tell you, it is the most amazing, delicious and fresh produce I have ever consumed.  You will not be disappointed in the investment you make in a CSA, and it will, guaranteed, make you better able to say your dinner table looks a lot more like your great grandparents’ dinner table.

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Example of a Spring Tanaka Farms CSA box.

Farm Fresh to You
PO Box 689
Maywood, CA 90270
(800) 796-6009

Farm Fresh to You is a large scale CSA service that serves Orange County and beyond. They have farms in Northern Califorinia in the Capay Valley and Southern California in Imperial Valley. Organic produce is first sourced from their farm(s), and then from neighboring farms, while staying as local as possible.

Organic or pasture-raised eggs and organic trail mix / nuts are available as “add-on” items.

Pricing:
Regular box: $31.50/box*
* Please contact Farm Fresh to You for complete pricing list

There is no commitment requirement with Farm Fresh to You, and they offer flexible delivery options of weekly, every other week, or every three or four weeks, to home or businesses. The delivery day is based on delivery zip code.

J&J Grass Fed Beef
785 Tucker Rd. suite G #185
Tehachapi Ca. 93561
(661) 301 – 1043

The two J&J farms, one in Northern California and one in Southern California, claim to deliver the healthiest and finest quality grass-fed beef to Los Angles, Orange and San Diego Counties. CSA packages are available for pickup at several Orange County locations, and three farmer’s markets in LA.

Orders are delivered once a month at most locations. Host pickup locations have a freezer, so meet is kept conveniently frozen until the arranged pick up time.

Prices:
There are seven tiered packages available ranging in price from $55-$160/month.

Morning Song Farm
4805 5TH STREET RAINBOW,CA 92028
(888) 816-3335

Morning Song Farm is located in Rainbow, in northern San Diego County. Morning Song is a family farm that grows certified organic fruits and vegetables and delivers CSA boxes to the counties of San Diego, Orange, and Riverside. They boast 700 macadamia trees, 500 avocado trees, as well as citrus, plums, mulberries, guavas and more.

In the Morning Song CSA program members are able to “add-on” eggs from humanely raised, free range, Certified Organic fed, soy-bean-free heirloom chickens.

Prices:
Salad Fixins’ Box: $19.75/box*
Gardens and Groves Boxes: $34.50-$44.50/box*
*Prices based on commitment to CSA program

Orange County pick ups are on Wednesday  in the cities of: Corona del Mar,
Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Santa Ana, San Clemente, Irvine and Laguna Hills.

South Coast Farms
32701 Alipaz St., San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(949) 661-9381

South Coast Farms was started by Farmer George in 1995 in San Juan Capistrano. Members are assured that the fruits and vegetables in their baskets are all certified organic and grown by local farmers. Contents of CSA baskets change seasonally, like all CSAs, but an example of a Spring basket could include: chard, onions. beets, broccoli, lettuce, parsley, kale, avocado, navel oranges, lemons, apples, grapefruit, pears, potatoes, kiwi and cabbage.

Prices:
Regular box: $33.00/box*
Large box: $40.00/box*
*Prices listed are for farm pick up only. Pick up at pick up locations are $2.00 more per box. $15 registration fee applies.

Weekly or bi-weekly pick up available at the farm, and bi-weekly pick up at pick up locations. Pickups are on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday in the cities of: San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Laguna Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa and Fullerton.

Tanaka Farms
5380 3/4 University Dr.
Irvine, CA 92612
(949) 653-2100

This 30-acre working family farm lies in a valley in the heart of Irvine. The CSA box includes fruits and vegetables grown using organic farming methods. The majority of the contents of the CSA boxes are grown by Tanaka Farms, but items will be supplemented from other organic farmers to provide a good variety in each box.

Prices:
Regular box: $20.00/box*
Large box: $30.00/box*
*Prices listed are for farm pickup only. Pick up at pick up locations are $3.00 more per box. Home delivery (available to Irvine residents only) is $10 more per box.

Weekly or bi-weekly pick up available at the farm, and various pick up locations.  Tanaka boasts an impressive 100+ pick up locations, ranging from as far north as Santa Monica to as far South as San Clemente.

VR Green Farms
200 Avenida La Pata
San Clemente, CA
(949) 697-0032

VR Green Farms is a unique small-scale sustainable farm growing over 30 Italian heirloom vegetables and herbs. It is located inside the Bella Collina Towne and Golf Club in San Clemente.

This unique farm model offers two different types of produce basket, artisan breads baked by Sadie Rose Bakery, as well as gourmet specialty add-ons including: pastured farm eggs, red pepper goat cheese, heirloom popcorn, and mango honey.

VR Green Farms is different than the typical CSA in that there is no long term commitment involved. Rather, just call and place your order for a basket week by week. Orders for produce baskets must be placed by Friday at 7pm; orders for bread must be placed by Thursday at noon.

Pricing:
Regular box: $20/box

Pickup at farm stand in San Clemente Saturday 10am-1pm.

Zucchini Xpress
134 Starcrest
Irvine, CA 92603
(949) 246-8093

Zucchini Xpress offers fresh, local vegetables and fruit direct from the organic farmers to the customers. Their farm, Unity farm, lies about 45 minutes east of Irvine in Rubidoux, an unincorporated area of Riverside

Pricing:
Season’s Harvest – Small Share: $ 25.00
Season’s Harvest – Medium Share: $33.00
Season’s Harvest – Large Share: $40.00
Fruit add-on (Option) $10.00 and Large Orchard Fruit Share: $25.00
Grass-fed beef – Z Paleo Taste – $63.00
Grass-fed beef – Z Paleo Mix – $84.00

Zucchini Xpress delivers to approximately 20 pickup locations in Orange County with a weekly or bi-weekly pickup schedule. Home Delivery is also available for the Irvine area for an additional fee.

**www.nal.usda.gov

Mollie is a wife to a wonderful man and stay at home Mama to two beautiful and energetic little girls. She has lived in South Orange County for most of her life and enjoys crafting, running, clean and natural living, party planning, and being involved in her community and church. She believes that being a Mom was and is her highest calling and attempts to give her girls a wide array of different experiences. From soccer cleats to tutus, running races to finding the perfect hair bow, she wants them to grow up knowing that they can be both girly and strong.
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2 Comments

  1. Am ready..

  2. I like this weblog it’s a master piece! Glad I found this on google.

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