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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a CSA and what are the advantages of joining?

Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka "subscription") and in return receive a box of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

This arrangement creates several rewards for both farmer and you.

Why Participate in a CSA?

  • Know how and where your food is grown.*
  • Receive the freshest healthy food for your family each week.
  • Beacuse produce is picked just prior to delivery, flavor is unmatched by grocery store fruits and vegetables.
  • A wide variety of produce & easy to use recipes will liven up family meals.
  • Support Missouri farmers.
  • Keep dollars in local communities.

* We invite members to visit the farm and see how your produce is grown. We ask that you call ahead to make sure we can be good hosts.

Advantages for Farmers:

  • Market early in the year, before 16 hour days in the field begin.
  • Receive payment early in the season, which helps buy seed, soil amendments, and pay employees prior to harvest.
  • We get to know the people who eat the food we grow.

It's a simple enough idea, but its impact has been profound. Tens of thousands of families have joined CSAs, and in some areas of the country there is more demand than there are CSA farms to fill it.

Are all CSA's the same?

CSAs aren't all confined to produce. Yellow Wood Farms is unique in that membership in our CSA also provides you membership at The Family Harvest Mercantile in Kirkwood.  At the Mercantile you have access to local meat, eggs, dairy, baked and canned goods, and frozen produce that's out of season.

Are you Certified Organic?

We are not "certified organic".  For a detailed explanation of our growing practices see our 'How and What we grow for you' page.

What is the 'shared risk' and how does it work with Yellow Wood?

There is an important concept woven into the CSA model that takes the arrangement beyond the usual commercial transaction. That is the notion of shared risk. When originally conceived, the CSA was set up differently than it is now. A group of people pooled their money, bought a farm, hired a farmer, and each took a share of whatever the farm produced for the year. If the farm had a tomato bonanza, everyone put some up for winter. If a plague of locusts ate all the greens, people ate cheese sandwiches. Very few such CSAs exist today, and for most farmers, the CSA is just one of the ways their produce is marketed. They may also go to the farmers market, do some wholesale, sell to restaurants, etc. Still, the idea that "we're in this together" remains.

At Yellow Wood we feel a great sense of responsibility to our members, and when certain crops are scarce, CSA members are served first. Still, it is worth noting that very occasionally things go wrong on a farm – like they do in any kind of business – and the expected is not delivered.

Our shared risk is very minimal, much less than stand alone CSAs because we work with other family farmers.  Through our relationship with a number of other growers, we are able to ensure that even if we have a problem on our farm you are still getting a box of produce.  If there is a very late freeze as there was a few years ago there may not be any local fruit from our farm or any other.  There is always the chance that something could go drastically wrong regionally that limits a certain crop for all growers (in 2010 it was just too hot for green beans and no one had them all summer).

The take-home message is this: if the potential for "not getting your money's worth" makes you feel anxious, then shared risk may not be for you and you should shop at the farmers market.

Will my share be enough to feed my family all week?

Most CSAs do not provide families with enough fruit to meet their usual intake.  Depending on the size of your family and how much you cook, you will probably find that you need to supplement the vegetables as well, especially staples like onions, garlic, and carrots.  If you are a vegetarian you will go through vegetables quicker than those who cook with meat.

What does it mean to eat seasonally?

If you are not accustomed to eating seasonally, you may find that it takes a while to make a transition from eating whatever is at the grocery store (pretty much everything) to whatever is in your CSA box (what's in season). You should expect the season to start off lighter than it finishes. The first crops will be salad greens, peas, green onions and the like. By the end of the season, the boxes should be much heavier, with things like winter squash, potatoes, tomatoes, and broccoli.  On our recipes page you will see what time of year certain vegetables are available.

What quantities will we receive?

When filling the weekly CSA boxes, Yellow Wood tries to provide a variety of items, in a reasonable quantity. We don't want to skimp, and we don't want to overwhelm our members. Of course, the weather and other mitigating circumstances can get in the way of our ability to provide the ideal amount.

We do our best to work in 1/2-1lb quantities for 1/2 shares and 1.5-2lb quantities for full shares. They average 7-12lbs for 1/2 shares and 14-20lbs for full shares. The weight varies greatly through the season as lettuce and melons are very different. In 2010, we had a range of 6-15 items per box while most weeks were between 8-12.

Can I buy extra for canning and freezing?

Yes, if we have extra bulk items we will let everyone know.  We have offered 10lb boxes of green beans and 20 lb boxes of tomatoes in the past.

Can I split a share with a friend?

Yes. But, in order to simplify our record keeping it is important that we have ONE contact name for that share (you can both receive our e-mails and newsletters).  Multiple names per share can get very confusing.  The same policy holds true if you and your spouse/significant other have different last names; please choose one of you to be our primary contact.

PLEASE KEEP IN MIND that some items are not divisible.   You cannot split a melon at the pick-up site and each take half home. The same is true for a jar of salsa from our canning kitchen.
Splitting a half share will leave you very little of each item.  1lb of potatoes split in two halves is not much.  We would recommend only splitting full shares.

What policies should I be aware of?

  • You join for the season. There is a large demand for CSA shares and a limited supply. Each year we have had to turn away members because we simply were at capacity.  When you join we require you to commit for the entire season, refunds will only be made in extreme cases (illness, relocation, family emergency, etc...).
  • Can I trade out items that I do not like? Each site will have a 'No Thanks' bin.  If there is an item you are not fond of please place it in the bin.  If there is an item in the bin that you like better, feel free to trade it.  This works on the honor system and we hope everyone does what's fair.  If there is nothing you would like to trade for in the bin a neighbor or co-worker might love that item you don't, pass it on.
  • What if I can't make the pick-up? Have a friend or family member get it for you.  If you are on vacation for a week I am sure that they would appreciate your share.  We unfortunately are unable to make changes to pick up times or provide refunds for missed pick-ups.
  • What happens to my share if it is not picked up? We do our best to donate produce that is not picked up to worthwhile charities, floodbanks, and nonprofit organizations.