Right now, there are so many unknowns. But one thing that isn’t unknown is that everyone needs to eat. When you join a CSA you help support the availability of local food during emergencies and receive fresh, local, seasonal produce every week. 

While a traditional CSA share usually requires a commitment of months, some farms are offering more short-term subscriptions or even weekly orders with no commitment.

There are multiple reasons why now is a good time to join a CSA.  

Fresh and local food has more nutrients and tastes better. The longer picked fruit and vegetables spend on a truck or in storage before you get them, the more vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they lose. 

Farm-fresh CSA food skips the grocery store. Right now, skipping the grocery store lessens exposure to airborne pathogens. Despite the fact that there have been no major disruptions to the food supply, many grocery stores are having a hard time keeping staples on the shelves. CSA subscriptions that offer home delivery or a prepaid pickup option are an easy way to get fresh food while limiting social contact.

Supporting a local CSA ensures a local food supply. Many farms have lost their local customers. Grocery stores, restaurants, and food carts that would normally buy their produce are shuttered or have seem their customer base greatly reduced. Since many farms grow produce for restaurants that are no longer open, farms likely have a surplus of food that they need to sell. 

To find traditional CSA’s, check out these resources:

Portland Area CSA Coalition

Willamette Farm and Food Coalition

Rogue Valley Food System Network

Food for Lane County

Here are a few creative actions that restaurant owners and chefs around Oregon are taking to support local farmers. 

Beaverton Farmers Market is doing drive-through. Customers can place pre-orders through their favorite vendors. and pick up on their “drive” through the market, making for nearly contactless shopping. Most of the booths can be accessed by vehicle traffic from the entrance for cars on SW 3rd St. The market is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.

Barking Moon Farm, located in the Applegate Valley, has launched an Ashland Food Circle Facebook group where pre-fixe box ingredients are listed each week, allowing shoppers to order weekly in advance. Just contact them to get on the list. 

The owners of Coquine restaurant in Portland (photo above) are implementing a new form of CSA they’re calling a  “farm direct pickup box,” available on Wednesdays and Saturdays. You can customize your box based on what’s available from local farmers Black Locust Farmand Wobbly Cart Farm, glass-bottled milk, coffee beans, fresh chicken eggs, cheeses, and even flower bouquets.

Submarine Hospitality Group, which represents restaurants Tusk, FORA, Cicoria, Ava Gene’s, and Takibi, is offering a $40 Produce Box and pantry items from local artisan producers.

Coopers Hall Winery and Taproom in Portland is now sourcing $50 boxes of seasonal ingredients from local farms.⁠ Recent boxes include pork short ribs, fava tops, cheeses, butter, and rice grits, plus spices and inspiration. 

Gathering Together Farm in Philomath responded with a VSA, “Vitality Supported Agriculture” (online), a weekly opportunity to purchase boxes of farm fresh produce with add-ons, such as kimchi and sauerkraut, fresh bread, Sweet Creek jams and spreads, and pizza dough. Follow their Facebook page for updates in mid-May on the transition from VSA to their summer CSA.

There may be many unknowns in life right now, but buying a CSA share is something you can do that helps maintain local food in the face of national shortages, and puts the availability of healthy, fresh food within your control.

You can expect Oregon’s entrepreneurial network of chefs, restaurants, farms and food artisans to continue co-creating new food delivery systems that support the livelihood of all.

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