Your hungry little sidekick is known to belt out Old MacDonald during dinner. Hey, in terms of bringing farm to table, it’s a start. Take things a big step further by signing up for one of our favorite Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. Some these programs will deliver a CSA box to your doorstep, too.
Benefits of a CSA
Not all of us have the green space, or the thumb, to grow our own healthy harvest. That's where these food delivery services come in. CSAs connect their members straight to farmers, who offer a prime array of local, organic ingredients that are often plucked from the field just hours before you lay hands (and teeth) on them. Shares (which come in the form of boxed veggies, fruits and eggs) can be delivered to your door or picked up at a nearby location.
New to CSAs?
Dip your toe into the CSA pond by trying a half share, which arrives every other week or contains a smaller amount of goods, depending on the farm. As a guideline, a full share typically feeds two people on a vegetarian diet or four people on a mixed diet.
The Chicago area has plenty of CSA options. As of press time, these favorites still had openings, but all CSAs tend to fill up faster than you can say "E-I-E-I-O."
One of the largest CSAs in the U.S. was one of Chicago’s first when it began in 1991. Two years later this farming community adopted a biodynamic philosophy — a holistic mindset that emphasizes the interrelationships of soil, plants and animals as a self-sustaining system. Founder Farmer John is the subject of the award-winning film, The Real Dirt on Farmer John, which follows his personal journey through the farm debt crisis of the 1980s, which temporarily shut down operations, to the creation of Angelic Organics. Farmer John was inspired to create a CSA program because he believed it brought farming back to its roots, when farmers had a direct relationship with the people that ate the food.
Angelic Organics has partnered with Harvie, an online platform for customization of farm shares, so now you can personalize what you receive.
They have more than 40 community pick-up sites and deliver to most zip codes within 45 miles of Chicago.
Customized shares are available as either 20 weekly or 10 bi-weekly (every other week), from early June through late October, at $40/box. You can also add a bi-weekly fruit share for an additional $50/box.
Farmer John created Angelic Organics Learning Center as a way to help educate and mentor others with dreams of farming and provide fun learning experiences for the public. It offers day camps for kids where they help care for baby goats, tend to farm animals by brushing the horses or gathering eggs and learn about farming through fun games. Check the schedule for fun family days.
Angelic Organics, 1547 Rockton Rd., Caledonia, IL
Growing Home, Inc.
This is Chicago’s first and only USDA-certified organic, high-production urban farm. Farmers are motivated by their belief that organic agriculture can serve as a vehicle for job training, employment and community development, especially for those motivated to re-enter the workforce and rebuild their lives after incarceration, homelessness or substance dependence. Through these farms they provide transitional employment, skills training and interpersonal development to their participants and are an invaluable resource to the local families they serve.
Green City Market, 1790 N. Clark St., Saturdays, 7 a.m.-1 p.m.
Logan Square, Logan Square Blvd between Milwaukee and Whipple, Sundays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Wood Street Urban Farm, 5814 S. Wood St., Fri., noon-4 p.m.
16 weekly boxes of organic Chicago-grown veggies is $600, Jun. 20-Oct. 3. A half-share is $300, every other weekend beginning Jun. 27-Oct. 3.
Tomato Mountain Farm
Certified organic with a zero-carbon footprint, Tomato Mountain feeds Chicago via their home delivery subscription box filled with fresh produce grown at their farm in Brooklyn, WI. What you receive in your box varies by the season, and you can add various a la carte produce, dairy and pantry items sourced from local farmers to your weekly box. You'll receive a list of what to expect the weekend before your upcoming delivery.
Their year is 43 weeks long and they deliver weekly in the spring, summer and fall and bi-weekly in the winter.
They deliver! The day of the week you receive your box varies by the delivery zone in which you reside.
There are several options for membership, including monthly, seasonal and annual. You can also vary the size of your box: solo, small, medium and large.
Fresh Picks' mission is to get nutrient-rich food grown in the local community into Chicago households. For them, their work isn't just about promoting the health of our bodies, it's about supporting the local community in creating new jobs and breathing new life into rural communities.
Family can choose what's best for them from a full selection of locally sourced fruit, vegetables, eggs, grass-fed meats and baked goods with zero stipulations in order size, money spent or frequency.
Your selections are mailed directly to your home.
You manage the cost based on your family's needs and budget.
Patchwork Farms is a bit unique in the world of CSAs as they remediate vacant land in economically deprived and environmentally distressed neighborhoods on Chicago's south and west sides, providing space for outdoor gatherings, native pollinator habitat and food crops. This allows them to improve accessibility of healthy food for their neighbors. Along with their extensive variety of veggies, they produce eggs, medicinal herbs, preserved foods, honey, cut flowers, and a run a compost drop-off program.
Members pick up their veggies at the Humboldt Park plot (2825 W. Chicago Ave.) or The Plant (1400 W. 46th St.). Pickups are Sat., Thurs., or Wed., but you are asked to commit to one of those pickup days for the entire season.
Their 50-member CSA runs on a sliding scale, with a suggested price range of $135-$225 for the 9-week spring season, May. 13-Jul. 8 and $320-$560 for the 16-week summer season, Jul. 15-Oct. 31. They also have an unlimited CSA option where members have unlimited access to produce from May-Thanksgiving, which runs $1,500.
The Urban Canopy
The Urban Canopy is a local unified CSA, which means they partner with other family farms in order to provide you the most diverse box possible. Not only will you receive produce from their farm in Englewood, your box will include produce from other farms, beverages from their neighbor-brewers at The Plant, coffee from a neighboring roaster and breads from local bakers. You can also add pork, beef, chicken and extra eggs to your order.
Deliveries occur on Wednesdays and are available in zones that include Edgewater, Hyde Park, Lincoln Park, Logan Square, Loop, Portage Park, Rogers Park, Roscoe Village, Southwest and suburbs, West Side and Wicker Park.
Distribution begins May 13 and you can select between 22 distributions for $1,056 or 11 distributions for $572.
The Urban Canopy