To CSA or Not to CSA… An experiment!

To CSA or Not to CSA… An experiment!

Brassicas in a field at Holcomb Farm


A number of years back, we were members of the Holcomb Farm CSA in West Granby. It was a wonderful experience, and new to the area at the time. After a few years we ended our membership and I can’t for the life of me remember why. I guess sometimes life happens. I looked into rejoining this past winter, and found it had become quite popular with the locals and that it sells out it’s shares out each year, rightfully so! It also has risen in cost to over $600.00 for a full share. This is really not that expensive when you consider the quantity of fresh organic produce you receive. In fact, a full share can be very overwhelming and actually too much for a small family, so they also offer half shares. If your are interested in joining a CSA, Holcomb Farm is a real gem, but get in line early next year!

Needless to say, there were no shares available when I looked into it. Not a problem actually, as I had in the back of my mind already decided to plant a vegetable garden this spring and most likely wouldn’t need to join a CSA. Now that our not being members is official, I have decided to take our garden up a notch!

Inspiration comes in many forms, and so is the case for the Hokunson vegetable garden. The usual suspects, freshness, taste and organic are there, but over the past few years a few books have added their nudging as well. The most notable of these is “The Onivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan. An eye opening, and stomach turning foray into the world of modern food production. If you haven’t read it, I urge you do so now, it will change the way you think about food. I give the following as evidence; Our 19 year old son and his friends refused to eat at Taco Bell after hearing details of beef production in this book… Booyah!

Recently, two excellent reads on growing edibles also have inspired me. They are “Front Yard Food” by Ivette Soler, and “Grow the Good Life” by Michele Owens. Both very inspiring works. You can find my reviews of them here:

Front Yard Food Review on Blue Heron Landscapes

Grow the good life Review on Blue Heron Landscapes

So anyway, you get the idea, I am inspired! So here is the experiment: Over the course of this season, I am going to track the Hokunson veggie garden in words and pictures here on the blog. I’ll report back to you on a regular basis (as regular as I can) with our results. I’ll record costs, inputs, methods, problems, and most of all harvests. What’s the point, you ask? To compare what we spend here against the cost of produce in the store and also vs. the $600.00 we would have spent at the CSA. Plus, I really feel like sharing.

How will it end? If I could answer that now, I wouldn’t need the experiment.

Expected results? I know we will have fresh delicious produce (I have gardened before), but I have never quantified the results. Accountants take note! let’s see just how the back yard garden looks on the P&L statment.

I am looking forward to getting out in garden this year, I missed it immensely last year. I am centered and find peace when I am in the garden, it recharges me.

So what are you doing this year in your garden? Growing food? Annuals? Adding new landscape beds? We would love to hear form you, please leave a comment!

Until next time,

See you in the garden!


26 thoughts on “To CSA or Not to CSA… An experiment!

  1. Funny, we toyed with the idea of a CSA this year and thought the $600 one near us was too expensive. We do grow many vegetables (annual and perennial plants too) and also thought that it would be more produce than we needed to supplement our garden’s bounty. It would just be nice if it would get warm enough to start gardening already!

  2. I am pretty excited about the garden this year and I love that we will be tracking it the way you have described. Keeping my fingers crossed that we can stay ahead of it and have freezer full of home grown veggies for the winter!

  3. Hi Scott I’m pleased to hear your growing veggies! I say if you have room to grow, grow at home! I have a package of my teas ready to ship to you today and in “celebration” of your new veggie garden endeavor,I’m going to add an extra tea bag or two. I want to do my part to help you get your garden started right naturally : ) Producing Moo Poo Tea takes up most of my garden time (feeling a bit like the cobblers child) 3 years ago I joined forces with my neighbor. I start all the veggie and herbs here at the ranch and then he takes them over from there. This year we’re moving the garden back we just need more space. I’m working on a new garden area (volunteer Oak Tree is now casting to much shade on the old garden area)I hope to have the beds completed with in the next week. Seedlings are ready to be transplanted so I best get going. They are calling for nice weather and that should help move things along.

    I look forward to sharing in the garden with you Annie

    1. Annie,

      Thank you very much! I’ll be sure to let you (and others know) how things work out. I am very excited to work with Moo Poo Tea. Actually, just saying it makes me smile!

      Best of luck with your garden move!

  4. Scott, very inspiring! I am starting a veggie garden this summer also with my 10 year old son — my middle child and the only one of the three that is interested in growing things. any ideas on good veggies to start, other than the obvious tomatoes, peppers, squash?

    1. Cindy, it’s time to sow peas in the garden, we love sugar snap peas and so do our kids. We are trying a few new things here (I’ll post the full list in another post), but we’re most excited about Artichokes! We’ll see how that goes…

  5. Scott I look forward to following your progress. I know why I stopped using our CSA. BEETS!!!! I love beets, but when they show up in your box week after week for about 4 months, you go a little crazy. So now I grow what I can and hit our Farmer’s Market for the rest.

  6. Good luck with the veggies. Omnivore’s Dilemma is a favorite of mine, both for the info he gives (eye opening for sure) and the way he writes. The $64 Tomato is another great read, but more amusing about the P&L of actually producing food!

    No vegetables here. We can’t have fences over two feet high in our association, and I’m already discouraged growing ornamental all-you-can-eat deer buffets in my gardens. I’ll be interested to read your experiences this season, so post often on how it goes.

    1. Thank You laurrie! The Omnivore’s Dilemma was a game changer, and I wish everyone would read it.

      There has been much discussion regarding deed restrictions in the design forums with which I participate. I understand the thought process, but they drive me nuts for just the reason you are mentioning. The on going homogenization of our society makes me sick!

  7. We get a box from A local Organic Farm every 2 weeks. Nice thing is, they market for other farms as well, so we get a very diverse box of goodies. They also let subscribers customize to suit their taste or to work around what they have in their own garden. It’s a little over $30.00/box, which is comparable to my Farmer’s Market bill for a similar haul. I will again be planting out the Redneck Garden, but the CSA box will continue as well. We love it!

    1. Matt, our town has a similar service, and we had some great artisanal food producers that contribute. That tempted us also, but budget rules! We still will be stopping in on these wonderful shoppes, especially to buy Goat Cheese!

      I’m looking forward to another season of the redneck garden myself, and if you need it, I have plenty of music here you could use for a sound track! just sayin’… 😉

  8. Scott, I’ll be interested to hear about your veggie garden experiment as the season progresses. I’d love to read Michael Pollen’s book but I know it will freak me out. Years ago, on a trip to the Carribean with my hubby, on the plane I started reading an article in a magazine about food issue in the Carrribean and he yanked the magazine out of my hand. He said there was no way he was spending a week’s vaca listening to me tell him how contaminated everything was that he was eating. When it comes to my food, unfortunately, I fall under the ignorance is bliss category.

    1. Debbie, There were parts that gave me the willies also, and sometimes I wish i didn’t know what I know. Most of the book is so inspirational though it needs to be read. There is chapter on Polyface Farm in Virginia, that had me so inspired I almost left it all behind to farm cows, chickens and pigs… almost!

  9. After ten years with a CSA—I’m growing my own this year—I’ll be really interested in your cost vs. the cost of the CSA—ours was up to $390 a year for a 2/3 share—which I thought was too much for what we actually ate—the first four years were pretty exciting—with a lot of “new, unusual” vegetables—plus, I hadn’t retired then—and got a big kick out of giving away the things that we had too much of—or had tried and NOT liked—say turnips–the last few years—with a new grower—they were growing the same things that I was growing….

    1. Karen, it was a little like that for us also, a lot of the same things, although I’m not sure how much better I’ll do. At least I can do something about it if that is the case. I enjoy working in the garden so it was an easy choice to grow my own. I’ll keep you updated. Thanks for the comments!

      1. you’re welcome!
        I look forward to hearing how your garden grows!
        I planted rows [short—I have a 90×6 foot garden]of cilantro, radishes, bok choi, arugala, parsley, and cutting celery…and blocks of spinach, stir fry mix, and lettuce….also put out three Kozy Coats with tomatoes in them….not sure that the early tomaotes will be worth the trouble of standing bent over to fill them…

  10. Scott, can’t wait to see the results of your experiment! I too am really getting serious about edibles this year. I have eaten chard and collards nearly every day for two months from my garden! At $4/week at the store, they paid for themselves in the first week.

  11. Great post! Omnivore’s Dilemma changed my life. I no longer eat anything that stands on four legs, and even the two legs are in question.
    Adding two more raised beds this year to grow more vegetables – well, I cannot tell a lie – I know at least one bed will be filled with more dahlias! Thanks again for a great post.

    1. Jayne, thanks for the comments! I agree, Omnivore’s Dilemma was groundbreaking. We haven’t given up meat, rather we try to find organic or sustainable sources now. It’s not an easy option.

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