A mid-summer CSA share.

A mid-summer CSA share.

By Melissa Gugliotta.

Locavore 101

Looking for sustainably sourced and locally grown meats and produce on the South Shore and South Coast of Massachusetts? So was I! And with just a little bit of research, I found not only a wealth of growers and CSA offerings in Southeastern Massachusetts but plenty of good reasons to become a CSA member myself.

What are the benefits of a CSA?

Short for “Community Supported Agriculture,” CSA-style programs began popping up around the world in the mid to late 20th century. Here in the United States, credit for the concept is frequently given to growers in the Northeast region — but Alabama horticulturist Booker T. Whatley was raised in a time when Black farm ownership and innovation was commonplace, and his 1982 interview with Mother Earth News for a “small farm plan” that could bring growers $100,000 per year predates them by several years.

CSA programs offer a lot of benefits to modern farmers and consumers. Growers get to know their customers and the types of produce that might be most popular with them, for example. Membership payments are made before the growing season begins, helping to manage cash flow throughout the year and allowing growers to utilize their resources most effectively. Members receive a weekly produce “share” (a bag of vegetables or protein produced by the farm) throughout the season, which typically runs about 20-25 weeks.

Whether you’re looking to skip the grocery lines, cut down on packaging, support local agriculture or some combination of all three, a CSA share is a great place to start. Farmland is typically stewarded well, animals are treated humanely, produce is fresher and with more varietal variation than anything in your standard grocery store—and dollars normally spent purchasing produce and meats from large, national growers stay, instead, in the local economy. The list of positives to CSA participation is virtually endless.  

Do CSA shares provide more than vegetables? Are there meat CSAs?

Hesitation around CSA participation is often related to selection and volume—people don’t want to receive more product than they can use or items they don’t know how to cook.

But CSA programs have come a long way. In addition to always having the option to split your share (the portion of farm product you sign up to receive) with friends and family, many farms provide a selection of both box sizes and individual items. Some even allow substitutions or additions from their on-site farm stores and home delivery options.

Farm shares are no longer just for vegetables! Many farms offer meat CSA shares, cheese shares—even flowers or general wellness products.

Ready to try a CSA?

Here is a partial list of farms I found offering CSA programs on the South Shore and South Coast of Massachusetts. While many have already sold out for the 2020 season, you can sign up to be placed on a waitlist or be notified of next year’s share sign-ups.

Don’t forget to check out the farm stores and educational programs also offered by many of the farms below and find them at farmer’s markets throughout the year.

[And, as always, see an updated map of these farms and more, here on Edible South Shore!]

Bay End Farm Buzzard’s Bay
Brix Bounty Dartmouth
C&C Reading Farm West Bridgewater
Copicut Farms Dartmouth
Elliot Farm Lakeville
Flying Carrot Farm Dartmouth
Freedom Food Farm Raynham
Healthy Futures Farm Westport
Heart Beets Farm Berkley
Plato’s Harvest Middleboro
Second Nature Farm Norton
Silverbrook Farm Dartmouth
Silverbrook Farm Acushnet
Souza Family Farm Rehoboth
Tilth & Timber Middleboro
Under the Sun Farm North Dighton
White Barn Farm Wrentham

Additionally, the Trustees Meat CSA offers a monthly subscription for grass-fed, pasture-raised beef in partnership with Appleton Farms (Ipswich), Chestnut Hill Farm (Southborough), Moose Hill Farm (Sharon), Powisset Farm (Dover), Weir River Farm (Hingham), and Katama Farm (Edgartown).