The CSA movement is growing in PEI. There are at least five CSA type programs in PEI–many certified organic–and interest in the model is growing.
Hughes Hill Farm is the newest CSA program in the province. It’s certified organic veggie box will be available to twenty members for 20-weeks, with pick up at the farm or at the Charlottetown Farmers Market.
“It’s a way to expand our farm sales, as well as provide some seed money,” said owner Gary Hughes.
CSA “veteran” Becky Townshend (Fortune Organics), is just back from BC, where she worked in the Athlete’s Village in Whistler, and is now feeling the pressure of the impending growing season.
Townsend is expecting her program to remain stable this year, with approximately 40 boxes per week for 10 weeks. Unlike most CSAs, her program is week-to-week, in order to allow cottagers to participate for shorter durations. Popular items are beets and most stir-fry vegetables. Townsend will also add strawberries to her offerings for 2010.
At Jen and Derek’s Farm, the CSA will remain steady with 40 shares delivered to Charlottetown and Summerside. Members pay for their 18 weeks at the start of the season and have choice of a small or large box.
“Last year the lettuce mix, French beans, and cherry tomatoes were very popular,” says Jen.
This year, their CSA will also offer local honey and Tim Dixon’s beef as a monthly option, as well as Barnyard Organics certified organic meat when available.
Naomi Cousins, the youngest CSA operator in PEI (she’s just 17), started out last year with 23 shares and will be growing to 40 or more this year. Her 17-week program has one delivery day/week in Charlottetown and may grow to two days, to help balance the work out. All the work is done by Cousins, with help from her sister when needed.
“Last year, I had to explain to prospective members that it “wasn’t like going to the supermarket and choosing what to buy, and people were okay with this. They liked supporting local and organic and a young farmer,” said Cousins. “Members loved the cherry tomatoes and occasional box of strawberries in their boxes”.
Laura Leigh Organic farms is embarking on a new CSA program for meat. Six-month commitments are requested for any of the nine program options (ie. mixed selection, all beef, all pork, all chicken etc.). It’s certainly a new approach to the CSA model–and one that could help boost profitability to many direct marketing farms across the region.
Kathy Ware and Brian MacKay (Red Isle Farms) developed a year round week-to-week box program after being approached by the Heart & Stroke’s Healthy Eating program in 2009. With drop-offs in Kensington and Summerside, Ware and MacKay provide about 50 boxes/week to families in the area, and hope to grow that number in the coming year.
“At this time of year, we’ve got potatoes, carrots, cabbage, freshly dug parsnips, Margie Loo’s alfalfa sprouts, and free range eggs,” says Ware. Their program requires members to pay one week in advance, allowing the farm to plan ahead, but not limiting a family’s ability to pay in requesting a full season’s share. Ware and MacKay also provide a newsletter and recipes to help families understand and appreciate their veggies to the fullest value.
ACORN lists all known CSA’s in their database (http://acornorganic.org/acorn/databaseregional.html), so if you know of a program that we’ve missed, please let us know! Call 1-866-322-2676 or email email@example.com.