Vegetable season in the northeast is almost here, and Bronxites will have the chance to reap the benefits.
Community Supported Agriculture, or CSAs, are on the rise, especially in the Bronx. CSAs are programs in which individuals or families can buy a share, and are entitled to a certain amount of fresh produce every week, which is shipped directly from farms in the region.
CSA proponents say the programs are a way to get fresh vegetables in areas lacking in quality super markets. The absence of fresh food options in the Bronx has been well documented.
The Bronx is currently home to eight CSAs, according to Just Food, an organization that connects farmers with consumers in New York City.Only Staten Island has fewer CSAs among the five boroughs.
One of the Bronx’s newest CSAs will operate out of a church on 1275 Grand Concourse and is run by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, which operates several other CSAs throughout the city.
Jackie Goulet, CSA coordinator for the NYCCAH has been in charge of getting its Bronx CSA up and running, and she said getting people on board with the idea of paying for food up front and then receiving a shipment each week has been the hardest part of establishing the CSA.
“I think getting the concept to people has been the biggest challenge because it’s a pretty unique concept,” Goulet said. “Even when you say the acronym it’s not clear what it is, and just getting the word out there that we have this opportunity available.”
The price of a share in the NYCCAH’s Bronx CSA depends on an individual’s income. It does accept food stamps. The deadline to apply for a share is Monday, April 25 and vegetable shipments start coming in June.
The NYCCAH’s Bronx CSA gets its food from a farm in Goshen, New York, about 60 miles from the Bronx.
The Norwood CSA on Rochambeau Avenue is another Bronx CSA and does not have structured pricing like the NYCCAH’s. A single share for a family of two to four costs $310 to $360, and a share for a family of four to six costs $610 to $710.
Food shipments only come in during June through November, since that is when most vegetables are grown and harvested in the northeast United States. Some CSAs do distribute winter vegetables as well as meats and dairy products but their selections are more limited.
Tanya Greene, who helps run the Norwood CSA, says members have methods of saving their vegetables over the winter.
“A lot people can and lot of people juice,” she said.
Unlike getting food from a grocery store, CSA members don’t usually get to choose what kind of vegetables they’re taking home, but they do know they will be fresh.
“We commit to our farmer,” Greene said. “We are going to take whatever he grows every week.”