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The Risks and Rewards of CSAs

Jun 19, 2012 05:06PM ● By Anonymous

Based on the emails I've received over the past few weeks, more than one reader of this blog chose Sunrise Harvest Farm as their CSA after I wrote about it. Until last night, I was as much in the dark as everyone else about what was going on and why we hadn't gotten any produce. 

Most CSAs try to warn you upfront that joining is a risk. When you sign up, you're giving the farm money in advance for a share of the rewards during the growing season. In most cases, the risk isn't so great that you don't recieve anything at all, but you should be aware that a certain crop might fail or you might not receive as much as you'd hoped.

According to the email the shareholders received last night, Sunrise Harvest fell prey to nearly every problem imaginable, including pests and broken equipment. While I wish the farmers at Sunrise Harvest had been more open to responding to communication in the past two to three weeks -- I had left voicemails and sent emails with no response -- they are refunding our money and offering us a free share in next year's CSA. 

As expected, I'm incredibly disappointed about the whole situation. I feel terrible for the farmers, considering this is their livelihood, and bummed that I won't get to have this experience this year. But it is what it is, and if Sunrise Harvest follows through on their word to refund our money, then I will not hold this against them. 

So, what should we do now? (A reader asked this in an email I received just a few minutes ago.) As many other CSAs have already started delivering, I plan to simply do what I've done in years past -- visit local farmers markets, stop at farm stands on my way to and from the beach, and supplement it with produce from the grocery store. In the mid-summer, my local Giant in Gambrills often sells locally grown produce, particularly squash and tomatoes. 

Next year, I look forward to trying the CSA experience again.