Q. What is a CSA?
A. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.
A CSA is a new social model that connects you to your food, the land, and to those that tend the soil. CSA is an economic system that allows you to make a direct connection with a family farm, a farm you know, a farm that adopts careful land stewardship practices and produces exceptional food.
The benefits of a CSA based food system are many. Besides providing fresh locally grown produce, CSA farms provide non-farmers with an understanding of the challenges and rewards of farming. You participate in the risks and uncertainties of farming as well as sharing the bountiful harvests. Having direct contact with the land through your food and your farm can be a tremendously rewarding experience.
Belonging to Mountain Bounty Farm benefits you, your family, the local economy and the environment.
Q. Why subscribe to a CSA?
A. Taste and quality are superior. By being closer both geographically and temporally to the harvest you will receive fresher food. Most of our produce gets to you either the day it was picked or the next day (some vegetables benefit from a night in the cooler). Fresher veggies taste better and are more nutritious. Taste is an indicator of nutrition — what you experience as good flavor is high levels of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Generally fruits and vegetables that taste better are fresher and were more carefully grown. CSA membership is also a big incentive to improve eating habits, eat more vegetables and experiment with new things you might not normally try… however most of the veggies are familiar, staple veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, and corn.
You’re also creating a direct relationship with a local farm family and supporting that farm. Many CSA members find a sense of satisfaction in going directly to their farmer for their food. Over time CSA members develop a relationship with their farm. As farmers this is also particularly rewarding. We love to see kids growing up on our produce. We’ve had parents eating our produce since before their kids were born whose children are now getting ready to go to college!
Another reason to subscribe is that it’s a great value. Last season we did a detailed price comparison with comparable items at local stores and on average our CSA shares were worth over $6/week more than we charge for them. That’s a savings of over $150 over the course of our 24 week season — in addition to the other benefits you receive.
ABOUT THE SHARES
Q. What does a CSA member receive?
A. It depends upon which shares you choose. We offer both summer and winter Vegetable Shares, Summer Fruit Shares, Winter Citrus Shares and a Summer Flower Share. Our Vegetable Share members receive a box of diverse fresh veggies each week, about the equivalent of a large paper grocery bag worth of veggies. See the individual descriptions below for more details about the various shares.
Q. How much food is in each veggie share?
A. The standard share is about the same size as full brown grocery bag. You can expect 6-15 items depending on the season.
Q. How much does the box weigh?
A. It varies depending on the veggies included from week to week. Some veggies (tomatoes, squash, potatoes, melons) are very heavy, some are light (lettuce, basil). Because of these weight differences, estimating a certain amount of pounds per week can be misleading. For this reason, we prefer to give a volume estimate: your CSA box will be at least 2/3 full (in practice it is often overflowing the second half of the season). This is equivalent to a large paper grocery bag chock full. Fruit is easier to judge by weight; for a Summer Fruit Share you can expect 7+ pounds of delicious fruit. For the Winter Fruit Share, you can expect 10+ pounds per week.
Q. There are just two of us – will it be too much for us? Can I get a half share?
A. We have one size share box. It’s generally designed for a small family. Whether or not it fits depends on your eating habits. Most of our members find our share just the right size. For people who eat out a lot it could be too much produce. For people who tend to eat at home or who love cooking and entertaining, it could be not enough. Those who need more produce can sign up for multiple shares. Some members share their share with a friend or neighbor.
Q. What is free choice?
A. On occasion during the Summer Season, there will be a special box with one or more “free choice” items at the Mountain Bounty Farm pick up sites. Free Choice produce includes veggies that are “controversial” – not everybody likes them, for example hot peppers and arugula. Some people are fanatical about them and some would rather leave them behind. The Free Choice box allows members who love arugula and hot peppers to help themselves, and members who don’t like arugula and hot peppers to leave them for others. Occasionally we may offer more of something that is already in the box as “free choice.” For example, most people want one bunch of broccoli in their box during broccoli season, and if we have an abundance of amazing broccoli as sometimes happens, we will offer it as “free choice.” When we do value calculations on the boxes we do not include the free choice produce, so it is a bonus value for those who choose it. The free choice produce can go quickly, so we recommend that if you are really into free choice, try to get to the pickup sites early!
Q. I’ve heard the season already started, can I start late?
A. We accept signups at any time — if space is available. Please call us as soon as you can: 530-292-3776. Some of the shares sell out in some seasons and we may need to put you on a wait list. Mid season signups are pro-rated based upon how many weeks remain in the season. Please keep in mind that we may have shares available, but that some of our pickup sites may have reached their maximum capacity. To ensure your pickup site, it’s always best to sign up early. Since we offer several site options, we can usually find an alternative site nearby that will work for you.
Q. How will we know what’s coming up next week in our box? What’s in the box?
A. Looking at what came last week is a good indication of what’s in season and what you might expect next week. Ordinarily, each week’s box includes something different from the previous week as well. We try to offer as much variety as we can. For example, we will not give out beets two weeks in a row. Due to the nature of farming, it can be hard to predict what will exactly be in the box from week to week. At times we make last minute decisions during the harvest process — we want to make sure that you are getting the best possible produce. On a given day a particular item may not be as ripe as we thought it was going to be or it may be too ripe. Or something we didn’t expect to be quite ready yet will suddenly need to be picked. As a member, you will receive a weekly email reminding you to pick up your box. This email will include a list of box contents that is almost always accurate, but sometimes we do make those last minute decisions.
Q. What happens when I go out of town?
A. We recommend that you find a friend, neighbor or family member who can pick up your box, and you can ask that they hold it for you or give it to them or make an financial arrangement with them – members away for long portions of time have occasionally sold their remaining shares to someone they know.
Q. Where are the pick up sites and what are the hours?
A. Please note that our Summer and Winter seasons have different days and times! Please click here for details: Pickup Sites, Days and Hours.
Q. Can I change my pickup site to another site?
A. Yes! We can definitely switch your site for the duration of the season– thanks for letting us know at least a week ahead of time as it does affect our logistics. Contact us and we can help to make your switch.
Q. Can I make payments or pay weekly ?
A. Although we do not accept weekly payments, we do have a payment plan option. For a beginning of the season signup, members have the option to pay with three checks. Please contact us for more information. If you would like to propose and alternative payment plan, please contact us. We want to make our system work for everyone.
When you signup online, you can make credit card payments. You can pay the full amount or set up an automatic recurring charge to your checking acct. or credit card. Please note that as a small business, we’d prefer you send us a check to save us the credit card processing fees.
Q. Can I come work on the farm in exchange for shares?
QUESTIONS ABOUT VEGETABLES
Q. What do I do with odd vegetables?
A. First, be sure to read the newsletter that was included with that week’s share. More often than not, a recipe will be included that incorporates unusual veggies. If you are still stuck, please give us a call and we can help you find a recipe that may work for you.
Q. I don’t like eggplant and can I have more green beans?
A. Because we are a small family operation we make all the boxes the same and we don’t have the capacity to individually design the boxes. We recognize that everyone likes different things and throughout the season there will be something you don’t like – you don’t have to eat everything in your box, it’s still a good deal. Also, you might give it to a neighbor, or trade at the pickup site.
Furthermore, if you know you don’t like a vegetable and you don’t want to think about what to do with it, you can drop it in the free choice box at pickup.
In addition, if there is something that you would like more of, please come to the Nevada City Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings from June-October. We always have a wonderful array of veggies there.
Q. Do you deliver in Truckee and Tahoe if there is a big storm?
A. Because of occasional extreme storms in Truckee/Tahoe, delivery is weather permitting. We try to notify everyone via email if there is a storm that prevents us from meeting our delivery time. However, we can say that we haven’t missed a delivery yet due to weather!
Q. Are all of the boxes the same?
A. We spend a lot of time ensuring that each of the boxes is comparable to the others. Please don’t go through the boxes at the pickup site.
Q. I have 8 empty share boxes left over in my garage… what do I do with them?
A. Please bring them to the pick up site – we will really appreciate getting them back and it helps us keep costs down. We need to reuse the boxes as long as possible as they cost us about $1.80 each!
Q. I forgot to pickup my shares, will my veggies and fruit be there tomorrow?
A. Our agreement with our site hosts is that our pickup day and times are firm. This means that if you are unable to make it to the pickup site in time, please have a friend, neighbor or co-worker pick up your shares for you. At the end of the appointed pickup hours all leftover produce is donated.
Q. There was nothing when I came to pick up my weekly share.
A. First, please be sure you have arrived during the correct pickup day and time. If you have arrived outside the pickup hours, your shares are not available. However, if you are there on the correct day and within the pickup hours, please contact us immediately and we will help you resolve the problem.
Q. If I’m dissatisfied can I cancel my share?
A. If you are dissatisfied, we would like to know why first. We always appreciate the opportunity to address concerns and help members to understand our process. Please contact us right away with any questions or issues that may have come up.
Q. Can we come visit the farm?
A. Yes, we welcome visitors. We ask that you call to arrange an appointment.
Mountain Bounty Farm is a working farm, so while we love to have people visit and taste the veggies, our availability to give tours may be limited at certain times. Also, we don’t schedule tours on weekends.
We also host a harvest festival every fall, usually the second or third Saturday of September. The festival includes a farm tour, tasty treats and plenty of activities for the kids.
Q. I want to order veggies and/or flowers for a special event (wedding, restaurant, catering business, party) – do you supply produce or flowers in other ways than the CSA Membership?
A. We are at the Nevada City Farmer’s Market every Saturday from 8:30am to 12:30pm throughout the summer season. Many times, you can find exactly what you need here. If you have a larger more specific request, please contact us, we may be able to assist you with a special order.