Sharing the Risks, and the Harvest

Paying now for produce later
At the height of summer, Amber Waves grows typical farmers market offerings but ups its game with unusual finds such as tomatillos and okra. Laura Donnelly

For those looking forward to having a summer filled with fresh produce from an East End farm, now is the time to sign up for a community-supported agriculture program, or C.S.A. 

The C.S.A. system works by having members pay an up-front fee to cover the cost of planting and harvesting in return for receiving a weekly share of farmer-selected produce. “It takes the work out of deciding what to eat because the expert in the field has made that choice for you,” said Amanda Merrow of Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett. Many farms also offer recipe suggestions and enticing add-ons such as locally made cheeses and breads. Some farms, such as Amber Waves and Quail Hill Farm, grant members access to areas of the farm where they can pick herbs, flowers, or produce themselves. “It takes my breath away seeing so many people in the field enjoying themselves,” said Ms. Merrow. 

Below are the details on what a few of the local C.S.A. programs will offer this season.

 

Amber Waves

In addition to supplying a weekly box of fresh produce and its pick-it-yourself perk, Amber Waves holds events designed to make members feel like a part of its farming community. There is a new member orientation, during which customers will get a tour of the fields, and three potluck dinners are planned for the summer, with Amber Waves supplying music and pizzas made in the farm’s brick oven, and members taking salads and other side dishes. 

Members will also receive a discount at the farm store, a weekly newsletter, and a handbook filled with cooking suggestions. The farm’s programs, which will begin the week of Memorial Day, range from a 10-week membership (July 4 through Labor Day) for $550 to 26 weeks (Memorial Day through Thanksgiving week) for $1,050. Members are required pick up their boxes at the farm on Tuesdays, Fridays, or Saturdays. Full descriptions of the various share types can be found at amberwavesfarm.org.

 

Balsam Farms 

Members of Balsam Farms’ C.S.A. program, which begins May 24, will receive a weekly selection of fresh vegetables, greens, and herbs. Last May, for instance, the produce included asparagus, kale, arugula, lettuce, garlic, chives, parsley, and a head of bok choy. Balsam also offers recipes and occasionally throws in bonus products such as pesto, jam, and tomato sauce prepared from farm produce. 

The membership prices range from $500 for 15 weeks to $860 for 26 weeks. Add-ons of fruit, cheese, bread, flowers, and prepared foods will also be available for an additional cost. Shares are picked up at Balsam’s farm stand in Amagansett. During pickup times, members get 10 percent off additional produce at the stand. Sign up is online at balsamfarms.com.

 

Sang Lee Farms

Sang Lee Farms on the North Fork, which is certified organic, offers C.S.A. shares of vegetables, fruit, cheese, and prepared foods made in-house. Members can purchase either a full share of vegetables, which will include 8 to 12 different items per week for $680, or a half share, which offers 5 to 8 items for $480, including delivery to the farm’s pickup site at the East Hampton Farmers Market. For an additional fee, the farm will also provide home delivery. The 24-week program will start on June 5 and run through Nov. 15. 

The fruit and cheese shares will extend over 18 weeks, spanning from July 3 to Oct. 31. Members will also receive 10 percent off purchases at Sang Lee farm stands, a weekly newsletter featuring recipes and storage tips, and access to events such as herb workshops and tomato or strawberry picking. The farm’s website is sangleefarms.com.

 

Quail Hill Farm

The Peconic Land Trust’s Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett is the oldest C.S.A. on the East End and one of the first in the country. It offers both individual and family shares in its program, which will begin on June 9 and extend into October. The farm gives members a choice between self-harvesting on Tuesdays and Saturdays, or picking up a box of produce. Flowers and herbs are not included in the box shares. Prices range from $375 for an individual box share to $960 for a family summer share. There is also a $50 first-time member fee. Members will receive a handbook with harvesting tips, and a guide to the fruits and vegetables available at various stages of the summer. The farm also hosts various events for members and friends throughout the season. Sign up is online at peconiclandtrust.org. 

Share the Harvest Farm

Share the Harvest Farm, which donates a sizable portion of its produce grown on Long Lane in East Hampton to food pantries and other nonprofits, has a C.S.A. geared to lower-income working families. Now in its third year, the working families C.S.A. will run for 14 weeks, with memberships starting at just $150 for families with incomes of $40,000 or less. The cost for those with household incomes of $40,000 to $70,000 is $250. Pickups will be on Friday afternoons from June 29 through Sept. 28. Memberships are limited, with priority given to those with the lowest incomes and returning members. Applications can be found online at sharetheharvestfarm.org. 

 

Also Available

Although the nonprofit Bhumi Farms, which has moved from East Hampton to Bridgehampton, will not have a C.S.A. program this year, its heirloom tomato farm will be offering a salad C.S.A. starting at the beginning of August and lasting through Labor Day. For a cost of $25 per week, a member will receive tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and hardy greens. Frank Trentacoste, Bhumi’s farmer, said he will also offer a “Friday night love basket,” which will consist of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, a baguette, and basil at a cost of $25 per week. Mr. Trentacoste can be phoned at 646-496-8364 for details and to sign up.

The Green Thumb organic farm in Water Mill offers a different sort of C.S.A. model in which members who pay an up-front cost choose a set amount weekly of produce, flowers, and garden plants from the farm’s stand on Montauk Highway. Calls to the farm for details and this year’s prices had not been returned as of press time, but a rough outline of the program can be found online at greenthumborganicfarm.com. 

Green Thumb offers box share deliveries to Huntington, Queens, and Brooklyn.

Many C.S.A.s include add-ons such as fruit, freshly baked breads, and cheeses from purveyors such as Mecox Bay Dairy, above, which uses raw milk from cows raised on its farm. Jennifer Landes