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CSAs in the New Orleans Area.


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Does anyone know of a decent CSA in the area? I'm really interested in this sort of thing, but the only ones I've found have been either quite far (i.e. Lafayette, which I'm not up for just to get a box of food) or massive amounts of not-very-diverse produce (like 20 lbs. of blueberries).

I guess I'm looking for a reasonable variety of produce/ products in a fairly doable radius from New Orleans. I'm willing to drive, just not 2 hours.

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As far as I know, we don't have anything like this.

I've spoken to Darlene Wolnik at Market Umbrella (and Crescent City Farmers Market) about CSAs. What she's seen around the country is that you either have a strong farmers market or CSAs. Rarely do you have both. In the New Orleans area, there is not a lot of capacity to supply more produce (although Market Umbrella is working on building that) beyond what the markets consume.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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That's an interesting comment to me, given that you hear a lot about CSAs in the New York and California areas, which I would think have quite strong markets as well.

The biggest issue here is that there just aren't that many people who farm seasonal vegetables beyond what we are really known for (tomatoes, bell peppers, squash, etc.) Lettuces and greens don't grow here very well in the summer because of the heat, humidity and the bugs, and things like peas, etc. just give it up as soon as we get into mid july (if you don't believe me, come have a look at my back fence-it's a dead and dying zone now when, three weeks ago, it was a garden market).

Also, the few people who do this manage to sell what they make directly to restaurants or at the farmers markets.

I also think that the fact that most of us who are into it know where and how to get it directly adds to it. In New York, or Chicago (your examples), most people don't have access to the farmers directly because of milage or isolation from the land. Here in New Orleans, we really don't have either. Hell, I went fishing this morning and killed the trout within sight of downtown (and also within sight of a couple of small villages that are completely and finally destroyed forever) and on the way home, picked up a basket of green tomatoes, some squash, and some gorgeous okra on the way home. It's just not that hard here.

Though it would be nice. I would probably join a CSA just because it would be fun to see what would show up. Kind of like a biweekly, veg oriented, instant version of iron chef.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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The biggest issue here is that there just aren't that many people who farm seasonal vegetables beyond what we are really known for (tomatoes, bell peppers, squash, etc.) Lettuces and greens don't grow here very well in the summer because of the heat, humidity and the bugs, and things like peas, etc. just give it up as soon as we get into mid july (if you don't believe me, come have a look at my back fence-it's a dead and dying zone now when, three weeks ago, it was a garden market).

And on top of that, a lot of other farmers are just growing a few commodity crops. As one food activist told me, "Enough already with the cauliflower." The Crescent City Farmers Market had to develop a lot of the vendors you see there. They found commodity farmers who were growing a few items and struggling to stay alive. Then they had to convince them to grow a greater variety of items and make the shift to market vending (and direct sells to restaurants). From what I know, the farmers who took the plunge have done very well. Market Umbrella would certainly like to see more farmers make that change. But it's a big order to ask someone to completely upend they way they make their living.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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That's an interesting comment to me, given that you hear a lot about CSAs in the New York and California areas, which I would think have quite strong markets as well.

Though it would be nice. I would probably join a CSA just because it would be fun to see what would show up. Kind of like a biweekly, veg oriented, instant version of iron chef.

This is really my main reason for being interested. I think it would make me diversify a bit.

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Have you considered starting a CSA? My CSA got its start 16 yrs ago when ONE interested person contacted the farm and said she wanted to start a CSA for her area. That CSA now serves hundreds of families in numerous locations throughout the SF Bay Area.

It does take commitment, and in the beginning the coordinator (that would be you) will be a volunteer. So, if you have the inclination, and the time--

An easy way to begin, once you find a farm, is to sit in the farmers market with a table, a display, and some flyers for a few wks and ask people to sign up. The CSA is a go when you reach your target number. If the farm is one that sells also at the farmers mkt, people can pick up their CSA orders at that farm's stand during the farmers mkt hours. The whole CSA order shd be discounted compared to what people can pick up a la carte at the farm stand; and people shd know there are no substitutions with something they might like better at the farm stand, because of the discount.

There's some organization and paperwork that comes with a CSA. The first coordinator for my CSA received free orders; I think she was also paid a little for her work. Now the farm has hired staff in its office to handle all the CSA matters.

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djyee100,

The thought hadn't crossed my mind before you suggested it. However, I'm a little skeptical about it now that I've thought about what Todd said above. Also, I'm about to begin my first year of law school, so time is very likely something I won't have...

That said, the idea interests me enough to seriously think about it.

Thanks!

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I just remembered that the year after the storm, Savvy Gourmet was doing something similar to a CSA. People could pick up a weekly market basket at the store. It would be interesting to know why that didn't work out.

I don't think it's the idea of the market basket that is so critical. When I've talked to CSA members around here (not only members of my CSA), people care about 1) the high quality fresh produce from a CSA, 2) it's organic and offered at a lower price than Whole Foods, 3) they know something of the farm and the people who run it; if the farm is organic, they support the farm's ecological goals.

The farm or organization that's running the CSA matters a great deal. One organization I know of--a store that brokers produce from several farms, as far as I can tell--gives its CSA members the leftover produce that didn't sell in its retail outlet. Those members don't last for long.

Sometimes people give funny reasons for joining a CSA. One woman, busy with a young family, said she belongs to my CSA because "I don't want to go to the supermarket and have to think!" I hate to admit it, but that's one of my reasons, too.

Edited by djyee100 (log)
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  • 1 month later...

Per my post on the Mid-City Green Market, once the MCGM gets a little more diversity of crop this fall its something I'm going to experiment with and hopefully fine tune something by Winter time.

"I often wonder what the Vintners buy

One half so precious as the Goods they sell."

- Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

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