Growing CSA Movement Helps You Eat Better, Be Healthy


Front Page / Apr. 24, 2014 11:33am EDT

Seeds in Ground, Sign Up Now
By Stephen Morris

Derek O’Toole of Anchor Light Farm in Braintree discs one of their fields with the help of two strong horses on Monday morning. Anchor Light is running their first CSA this year and will be offering a diverse array of vegetables and herbs. (Herald / Ben DeFlorio) Derek O’Toole of Anchor Light Farm in Braintree discs one of their fields with the help of two strong horses on Monday morning. Anchor Light is running their first CSA this year and will be offering a diverse array of vegetables and herbs. (Herald / Ben DeFlorio) The popularity of CSAs—Community Supported Agriculture—has taken off in Central Vermont.

Community Supported Agriculture describes a direct marketing relationship between farmers and consumers, in which the consumers subscribe to seasonal shares of the farms’ operations.

While the terms of the membership vary from farm to farm, CSA shares are usually purchased for a set price early in the season, in exchange for weekly boxes of mixed produce. This allows consumers to share in the seasonal bounty of diversified farms, while providing a financial buffer to the farmer by paying for membership in advance.

(Herald / Ben DeFlorio) (Herald / Ben DeFlorio) Although the CSA concept is not entirely new, the approach fell into disuse as family farms fell victim to monocropping industrial farms in the last half-century. With the burgeoning interest in small-scale organic farming, especially in Vermont, the concept has been revived.

The CSA model was rediscovered in the mid-1980s. Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) estimates there are more than 65 operating CSA farms in Vermont. They vary widely in their food specialties and trading terms. Some farms even offer a barter option in which memberships can be exchanged for field labor.

Methods of delivery differ as well. Many farms set up a CSA farm stand, where members come once a week to select a certain dollar value of produce. Others even offer home delivery.

There is no shortage of good reasons to join your local CSA: Good, fresh, and usually organic food; supporting your local farmer; keeping your money within the community; and connecting to the community.

Here are a few additional developments within the active world of CSAs:

Winter Shares

Until recently, most CSA farmers focused their CSA production and marketing on the summer season. With increasing consumer interest in eating locally-produced foods year-round, more growers are expanding production of winter-hardy and storage crops for winter CSA shares.

Many growers who operate winter CSA programs also appreciate the year-round employment opportunities for themselves and their trusty workers.

Multi-Farm CSA

Many CSA farms are realizing the enriching potential of cooperating with near-by farms and food businesses to provide members with a greater diversity of farm-fresh and local products.

These partnerships not only produce more diverse and enticing shares for the members, but they also create a stronger local food community. These partnerships are often made between different kinds of farms (e.g. vegetable farms connecting with orchards, dairies, and meat growers) and can also work well between farms and local food businesses (e.g. farms connecting with local bakeries, wild-edible foragers, cheese makers, etc.)

Senior Shares

Special discounts may be offered for senior citizens to encourage more community involvement.

Many CSAs in Central Vermont!

The following is a list of CSAs in the White River Valley. The list represents The Herald’s best effort, over the past week, to collect information— but we may have missed a few.

Anchor Light Farm

Derek and Megan O’Toole

89 Old Bass Road, Braintree


Anchor Light Farm sells fresh seasonal produce to CSA shareholders, and raises and markets a variety of other items, including pastured, whole chickens, honey, and eggs. The O’Tooles primarily utilize draft horse power in their farming operations, minimizing the use of fossil fuels and incorporating the horses into the full-circle sustainability of the farm.

Callahan Farm

Mary Dollenmaier

534 Smith Hill, Northfield


Callahan Farm offers seven monthly meat CSA shares for Vermonters who want heritage hen eggs, free-range chicken and turkey, pastured lamb, and pork. From June through October, a variety of meats and two dozen eggs are included, enough to prepare three to four meals/entrees.

CSA members can “add-on” featured seasonal organic vegetables to their monthly share. Share pickup is at the farm store and in Montpelier.

Fable Farm

6243 Rt. 12, Barnard


This year Fable Farm is joining Heartwood Farm to form The Heartwood & Fable Farm Collective.

A CSA share provides 20 weeks of organic vegetables for weekly pickups from early June to mid October. A “tiers of credit” system allows consumers to “take what you want and not miss out if you can’t make a pick-up.” In addition, a “u-pick” garden is available with cherry tomatoes, green beans, snap peas, a large variety of flowers and culinary herbs.

Special events are also planned for pick up days on Thursdays.

Field Stone Farm

Chandra Blackmer

793 Gib Lane, Northfield


This small, diversified farm offering year-round poultry, eggs, vegetables, maple syrup, and woodfired pizza through a CSA program, as well as via a farm stand and the Northfield Farmers Market. The weekly CSA share includes a wide variety of organic vegetables as well as “u-pick” flowers and herbs. The farm is between Northfield and Roxbury.

Gilead Fiber Farm

562 Macintosh Hill Rd, Bethel.


Once a year, the farm offers Harvest Shares, similar to a CSA, whereby friends buy into shares of each animal’s fleece harvest.

Green Mountain Girls Farm

Laura Olsen & Mari Omland

923 Loop Road, Northfield


An Omnivore’s Farm Share and Farmstand Share provide local, organically-managed (applying for certification this year) meat (pork, poultry, and goat), eggs, vegetables, and goat milk, in a free-choice, yearround format. “Our food is available year-round and we have rolling admission for new members as space is available. You can see what has been available each week on our website.”

Greybar Farm

Barbara Meaney & Greg Winnie

131 Route 14, Randolph.


Full and half-shares of locally grown produce and eggs. Available for pick up at the farm or at the couple’s Rte. 66 Garden Center in Randolph.

HighFields Farm

Julie Iffland & Chris Recchia

854 Tatro Hill Road


HighFields’ customers pay in increments, with a $25 bonus with each share. Customer chooses from HighField’s farm stand or farmer’s market offerings.

Luna Bleu Farm

Suzanne Long & Tim Sanford

96 Boles Rd., South Royalton


Luna Bleu Farm is one of the oldest CSA farms in Vermont. They raise a wide assortment of organic vegetables for CSA shares for the harvest season and winter season. Eggs, beef, pork, chicken are among the additional items available to CSA members. Summer and fall CSA shares are picked up weekly at the farm and at drop off sites in Randolph, Sharon, South Strafford, and White River Junction.

Parmelee Farm

Randolph Center


A limited number of weekly veggie share available.

Pebble Brook Farm

Chip & Sarah Natvig

24 Cram Hill Rd., West Brookfield

Pebble Brook Farm offers a wide variety of certified organic vegetables and herbs, as well as seedling for the home garden. CSA shares are available until early spring.

Simple Livin’ Farm

Suzanne McCullough

1955 Stony Brook Rd., Stockbridge


Simple Livin’ Farm grows sustainable organic produce, but is not certified. There are two size shares, small and large, from mid-June through mid-September. Possible winter supply of garlic, onions, potatoes, and winter squash.

Tunbridge Hill Farm

Jean & Wendy Palthey

135 Monarch Hill Rd., Tunbridge


“Our members are folks that consciously make the choice to support the local high value option of foods grown in the deep soils of integrity. They drive a few miles to our farm each week to pick up their fresh produce. They may also choose to pick peas, herbs, green beans, or cherry tomatoes for their dinner.”

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