What is a CSA?
The function of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program stays true to its name: the community supports its agricultural businesses. In a CSA, individuals purchase a “share” of the harvest during the winter and early spring, before the season begins. Then, throughout the growing season, members come to the farm or visit a distribution site each week to pick up their pre-purchased shares of just-harvested vegetables. Shareholders financially support the farmer in advance of the growing season, thus supporting and trusting the farmers' ability to grow fresh vegetables for them.
We believe COMMUNITY is at the heart of farming.
Are you organic? Is every local farm organic?
Cloverleigh Farm is certified organic by Baystate Organic Certifiers and uses no synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilizers and adheres to sustainable farming practices. In other words, we produce vegetables you can really feel good about eating. Everything is grown from seed to seedling, tended and then harvested on the premises. Only farms that use organic principals and pay for the annual certification can use the word organic. We are the only certified organic farm in Columbia, CT.
How long is the Summer Share season?
It runs for the months of June, July and August (13 weeks).
What vegetables can I expect in June?
The early season will usually include vegetables like lettuce, radish, salad turnips, and bok choy, which are followed by cucumbers and summer squash. The size of the shares early on tend to be a little lighter as our soil is still warming up and only vegetables that grow very quickly are available for harvest.
What vegetables can I expect in July?
The mid summer season includes familiar favorites like yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, broccolini, green beans, eggplant, and cabbage. Also included at this time of year are cooking greens (kale), along with some different crops like fennel, kohlrabi, and scallions. The first annual herbs of cilantro and dill begin mid summer and continue throughout the growing season to be joined shortly by parsley (a very slow growing herb!). Carrots also make their first appearance mid summer.
What vegetables can I expect in August?
The late summer is full of bounty. The heat-loving summer crops are in full force: tomatoes of all kinds, sweet peppers, hot peppers, and eggplant. The summer cucurbits (squashes and cucumbers) are producing well and the fall cucurbits (winter squash) are sizing up in the field. Watermelon and cantaloupe are available and the sweet flesh is just remarkable! Cooking greens are a constant presence and we try to continue to produce lettuce although sometimes it's just too hot. Onions are harvested and carrots remain available.
What are the differences in the share sizes?
We design the size of our CSA shares to match the typical eating habits of most people. Your eating habits may vary dramatically or not much at all. The goal is that our produce is the produce you eat for a week, without supplemental trips to the grocery store. This is how you "eat what you have" rather than buy what you need for a recipe. A full share should cover the needs of a family of four or more who like to cook at home. A half share will work for couples or families with small children who eat meals at home, pack lunches, and go out occasionally, or a single vegetarian. You can adjust the size of your share mid-season, should you need to do so.
Half share, mid Sept
Full share, mid Sept
What crops are in Pick Your Own (PYO) area?
Options vary by month/season and will include:
There is a PYO kiosk near the herb garden that has information on what to pick that week and in what quantities, along with scissors, pints, and quart baskets. The PYO beds are clearly marked in the field. Crop availability changes as the season progresses but herbs are generally available until first frost, as are some of the fall flowers.
What if I don't have time to do PYO? Can I buy these crops instead?
Yes. You have the option to buy a We Pick For You (WPFY) share for the summer season, fall season or both. It takes a lot of staff time to pick these small tedious crops and the cost is reflected accordingly. You may select a WPFY share in the online store where you purchase your CSA share. We do not have the ability to manage a mix of PYO or WPFY so you'll need to chose one or the other. The WPFY summer share is eight weeks long (July and August). The WPFY fall share is 6 weeks long (Sept, early Oct).
When is the Fall Share season?
Our fall season is the months of September and October (8 weeks). The fall is a bountiful time of year and when all the harvest festivals take place throughout Connecticut, with very good reason.
What vegeatbles can I expect in the fall?
The very last of the summer crops are generally available early on and then fall crops take over. Potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, cabbage, and onions are all in abundance. The earliest of the winter squash are often available in the month of September and continue throughout the fall. Cool weather crops like radish, salad turnips and bok choy all return. The growing season is in the hands of mother nature so there is always some unknowns with the fall. The best part is that most of the fall crops like frosts and can even handle a freeze. In fact many vegetables like kale, cabbage and carrots get sweeter after a frost. You can also expect plenty of kale, hearty turnips, broccolini and lettuces.
Where can I pick up my farmshare?
Members can choose to pick up their farmshare at the farm in Columbia or in Manchester. You are asked to choose a day that works best for you and stick with it for the season, although we can accommodate for vacations or unexpected issues that arise. Only half shares will be available for pickup in Manchester.
What if I forget or cannot make my regular pick up day?
If you pick up your share at the farm, it is very easy. If you usually come on Wednesday, then just come out on Saturday instead and visa versa. If you pickup at Urban Lodge, you can come to the farm on Saturday to pick up your share.
What do I do if I am going away for a week or two?
First, don't worry. We are flexible!
You can choose to:
double up on your share before you leave
double up when you get back
pick up your share twice in one week
send someone to pick up your share (friend, family member, house sitter etc.)
choose not to pick up your share, in which case it get's donated to the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic
Are you guaranteed to get certain vegetables?
As always, mother nature is ultimately in charge and try as we might to work with her, there are some aspects of growing vegetable crops that are largely out of our control. Every effort is made to produce the most delicious and beautiful produce available but inevitably there's something that doesn't work out quite like you expected. CSA members must be aware that nothing is guaranteed and crop availablity can change at a moment's notice. This is what makes every season unique and keep farmers on their toes.
How does a CSA program benefit the farmer?
It provides the opportunity to get to know the people they grow for. When farmers can identify their market before the beginning of the season, they can plan the use of their resources more efficiently, which means less waste (of both money and produce). Instead of spending time marketing already-grown vegetables during the warmer months, farmers can spend that time in the winter marketing the vegetables they plan to grow. This means more time for them to focus on what’s important during the growing season; growing you stellar produce. It eliminates the middle-man in the packaging, transportation, and selling of produce. This means more profit ends up in the growers pocket, which they can then reinvest in their business. There's a better cash flow for farms as they plan for a new season. Early payments from shareholders means enough money to buy equipment, farm supplies, and plan for labor expenses at the start of the season.
How does a CSA program benefit the environment?
It is more the management of the land that creates a health benefit. Because we are certified organic, we manage our property for healthy soil. We have no groundwater pollution from pesticides and fertilizers and no damage to aquatic organisms. There are far fewer CO2 emissions produced when you buy local, since there is less energy required to transport and refrigerate produce. Instead of your food coming from across the country, it's coming from your own state or community.
How does a CSA program benefit the community?
It directs dollars into the local economy and local pockets. There is a value and respect for all farm workers, most of whom live locally, which provides jobs. The simple presence of a working farm provides open space, a beautiful vista, and connects to our agricultural history.
How does a CSA change the way you look at food?
It can help develop an understanding of what real food is and the value of its production, which means better nutritional choices and health throughout your life. You get access to heirlooms and more unusual produce varieties and the fun that comes with trying new things! Most of all, it provides the opportunity to experience the seasonality of New England's farms.
Why do we operate a CSA program?
It provides us with a very clear connection with those who buy our products. We value that relationship of trust. Providing an opportunity for our members to spend time in the field (and seeing them look forward to and enjoy it) brings us a lot of joy. We love to share good food with others!