WRITTEN BY Rachael Medina
Rachael Medina is the staff writer and content manager for California.com. She was born and raised just outside the Mojave Desert in Southern California and moved to the redwood forests of Humboldt C…See full bio
As communities across the world and in California mitigate health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are shifting our content focus and not encouraging any travel or social activities during this time. We will, however, continue to shine a light on and celebrate the many beautiful aspects of our State with the intention of being a source of inspiration and joy during this difficult period. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.
Luscious potato leek soup and a kale Caesar salad are the preludes to a main course of savory roast chicken with caramelized shallots and a flaky mustard tart—sumptuous foods you’d expect to find at a high-end eatery. But California’s CSA (community-supported agriculture) programs are actually responsible for both these ingredients and these recipes.
That’s right, CSA boxes bring fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms to your home. Some even feature additional items—such as pasture-raised meats, California olive oil, honey, pies, and cheeses—making it easier to cook creative, wholesome meals. Many suppliers also deliver the boxes directly to your doorstep, so you finally have a good excuse not to go to the grocery store.
1. What is a CSA box?
An acronym for community-supported agriculture, CSA is an ideal way to eat locally grown produce and support small farms. By signing up for a CSA box, individuals help finance the farm’s operations by purchasing future crops. Many CSAs only charge when the boxes are shipped, some charge a one-time CSA membership fee, and others require at least a month-long commitment. By getting CSA boxes delivered, individuals can still eat local foods without having to visit a farmers market each week.
2. Where are CSA farms located in California?
Thanks to the Mediterranean climate and vast agricultural diversity of California, there are local CSAs delivering to nearly every county in the state. While the products will vary depending on location and season, it’s easier than ever to join a CSA farm share and reap the benefits of getting fresh, local produce sent to your home.
3. How much produce will I receive?
Most CSA programs offer a variety of box sizes that cater to the needs of individuals as well as families. Some offer small, medium, and large boxes, while others present price ranges based on the weight.
In general, the smallest box is best for one to two people, the next size up is for small families (or individuals who primarily eat a vegetarian diet), and the largest option is ideal for produce-loving families or offices.
4. What are the benefits of signing up for a local CSA box subscription?
There are numerous benefits that come with participating in a CSA:
5. Can I get items other than fruits and vegetables delivered with my CSA box?
In many cases, farms provide additional CSA foods in their boxes—including local honey, California kombucha, cooking oils, pastries, and more—so look for add-ons after selecting your produce.
6. How can I join a CSA near me?
Visit the websites of the California farms below to see if they’re accepting new CSA members. Since CSA agriculture has become more popular recently, some small farms may have a waitlist. If you live in a region that’s not listed below, search for “farm share near me” to see participating farms in your area.
Here are a few local farms providing CSA boxes to communities throughout the Golden State. If the small farm closest to you isn’t taking new CSA members right now, consider joining Farm Fresh to You for organic produce delivered throughout many areas of Northern and Southern California.
Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project (ANV) provides education, childcare, and access to healthy food for individuals living in Oakland, Berkeley, and other East Bay cities. ANV offers a wide range of CSA boxes, including two-pound boxes of salad mix as well as weekly and full-season flower, fruit, and veggie subscriptions. All boxes are reasonably priced, though most of the CSA subscriptions require a yearly $25 fee to cover set-up costs.
If you’re looking to make an even bigger difference at ANV, sign up for one of the farm’s volunteer positions—you never know who you might meet or whose life you might change.
Nestled northwest of Sacramento, Full Belly Farm is a Bay Area favorite, offering CSA boxes for home delivery and providing produce to some incredible local eateries such as Yo Tambien! Cantina. Full Belly Farm is also a terrific resource for discovering recipes and understanding seasonal crop schedules—making it easy to anticipate what items might come in your box and what to make with them.
Due to this farm’s popularity, it’s not uncommon to find a waitlist, so jot down your contact information or keep checking back for your chance to become a member.
JR Organics provides organic produce to residents of San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange Counties. Unlike many of our other favorite farms, JR Organics distributes the vast majority of its boxes using centralized drop sites rather than home delivery (though customers in Carlsbad and Oceanside can request home delivery).
Each CSA box is driven by the seasons, so you’ll always be surprised with new items, but you can expect to see everything from celery and brussels sprouts to avocados and citrus, depending on the time of year.
Location: Long Beach
Long Beach Farms is an urban farm on a mission to make the food system more sustainable. In keeping with its goal, the farm’s CSA boxes must be picked up from local stands. You may find potatoes, leafy greens, fruits, and herbs in your boxes—and you can choose to add on some pasture-raised eggs. Aside from receiving tasty food, CSA members also get priority access to seasonal farm events and weekly newsletters with recipes.
Singing Frogs Farm is a truly special regenerative farm in Sonoma County. The farmers grow their delicious vegetables using strict, non-conventional standards that put the planet first. Singing Frogs Farm is committed to no-spray, no-till, and low-water organic agriculture, resulting in nutrient-dense produce you can eat straight off the farm.
So, you can rest assured your produce was freshly harvested when you retrieve it from one of the farm’s 11 CSA pick-up sites throughout Sebastopol, Graton, Petaluma, and Santa Rosa. And if you’re looking to source even more of your groceries from local farms, Singing Frogs Farm has you covered. You can easily add on flower and rice deliveries or sign up for egg or olive oil shares from other local producers.
Have you tried a CSA box subscription? Tell us about your favorite California CSA farms in the comments below.