- What is a CSA?
- How does Tomato Mountain's CSA work?
- Can I sign up and pay online?
- Why home delivery?
- Doesn't delivery add to costs?
- When can I expect my home delivery?
- What are your delivery boundaries?
- Can friends get together for combined deliveries?
- What is the right size for me/my household?
- What do the shares look like?
- I'd like one-stop shopping - eggs, milk, etc?
- Your CSA deliveries have already started - can I still join?
- Is Tomato Mountain new to CSA?
- How does TMF grow so much on 12 acres?
- Can I purchase some jars or cases with my box?
- Can't I just purchase it at farmers' markets?
- How do you value the price of the produce?
- What if I don't like being a member or don't like the produce?
CSA is an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture, which refers to a relationship-based approach to the business of growing, selling, and distributing produce and other locally produced foods. While conventional food production systems are extremely efficient at the point of production, they forfeit most of this efficiency (not to mention freshness, taste, and nutritional value) by shipping produce thousands of miles, and ultimately by throwing much of it away because it goes bad before being sold at grocery stores. Food delivered in this system is relatively inexpensive because the two main players—namely farmers and the environment—are not sufficiently valued and compensated. The waste inherent in this system is roughly equal to the extent to which farmers and the environment are compromised and undervalued. As a result, the conventional system is not sustainable.
Over the last two decades or so, CSAs have become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farm. A more familiar way to think of a CSA might be as an investment. In short, a farm offers a certain number of “shares” to the public in exchange for an upfront payment, and the farm pays the shareholder “dividends” during the growing season in the form of a weekly box of vegetables. Shares of a CSA are also often referred to as a “membership” or “subscription.”
- Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year,before their long days in the field begin
- Receive payment early in the season (literally, "seed money"), which helps with the farm's cash flow
- Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow or produce
- Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
- Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
- May get to visit the farm during the season
- Find that kids typically favor food from "their" farm – even veggies they've never been known to eat
- Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown.
(adapted from localharvest.org)
2) Determine your delivery zone.
3) Select your season(s) and sign up! Here, you may choose different sizes for each of the 4 seasons if you'd like.
Yep! Head on over to our sign-up area to get started.
Why home delivery?
We focus on direct home delivery for several reasons: (1) one vehicle delivering 10 boxes has a smaller carbon footprint than 10 cars driving to the nearest drop-off and then home; (2) we know you're getting your produce in the best condition possible and you can store it in optimal conditions sooner; and (3) you won't have to remember the day and time for pickup, which results in less waste from unretrieved boxes. Your time has value--and you'll be freeing up more time with the convenience of home delivery.
When can I expect my home delivery?
We’ll deliver in the evening with produce harvested at its peak of freshness. The exact timing (roughly between 5pm and 10pm) will be worked out for each season once our route is determined by where our shareholders are. We’ll be aiming to either get it into your hands before you retire for the night or have it there to greet you when you wake up. See our delivery day information to determine which evening we deliver to your location. Where there’s ambiguity about which area you fall in, we can let you know as we’re developing the route and before the first share is delivered. Despite the above, the vast majority of our deliveries take place before 9pm and, within reason, will occur in roughly the same time range each week after the first several deliveries.
What are your delivery boundaries?
We hope to serve all of Chicago and the collar counties with direct home delivery. That said, we can assure delivery to all of Cook County and DuPage County, and the southern half of Lake County. If you’re in Kane, Will, or McHenry County or the remainder of Lake County, our ability to deliver to you will depend on a critical mass of subscribers in the area and/or proximity to highway exits. We urge you to encourage your friends and neighbors to consider our CSA and stay in touch with us to see how our outer areas are shaping up. See our delivery day map for which areas we deliver to on which days, and our delivery zone descriptions for delivery charges to all areas.
What if several friends get together for drop-off at one home? Would that require only one delivery charge?
No. As explained above, the delivery fee covers all of the transportation costs of getting each box from the farm. So each box bears some of the costs of the vehicle(s), fuel, and drivers. That said, we’d be glad to chat with you about reductions in the delivery fee for multiple deliveries for those who know each other, share one drop-off location, and arrange amongst themselves how to split the reduced delivery charges. At a minimum, delivery of each box would include the $3 cost of transportation mentioned above.
What’s the right size for me/my household?