Thanks to the growing interest in local, organic food, Angelenos can suddenly pick from a wealth of community supported agriculture programs with locations all over the metropolis. CSA programs basically let you invest in a local farm — for which you’re rewarded with weekly boxes of fresh local produce grown from that farm.
Some of the programs below have stretched that definition of the CSA a bit, to pool produce from more than one organic local farm, for example. Still, the general goal — to connect you to local, seasonal produce and the farms and farmers around you — remains the same. Your options:
South Central Farmers.
Cost: $15 a box — for a lot of produce (see photo above)
Pick-up locations: Culver City, Downtown L.A., Hollywood, Lawndale, Leimert Park, Long Beach, Pasadena, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, South Pasadena, Watts
The now-famous South Central Farmers travel to a farm in Bakersfield to grow produce — then bring it back to sell it to Angelenos. The user-friendly website lets you buy by the week, month, or season — and even pay by Paypal.
Cost: $25 for about 15 lbs of produce
Pick-up locations: North Hollywood, Valley Village, West L.A. (at Fairfax High), Westchester.
This new, quickly-expanding CSA program gets most of its produce from the Ramirez farm of Riverside — but hopes to soon add veggies grown at local schools. The flexible program lets you pay week by week instead of investing a big lump sum up front, and also offers you a bit more choice at the pick-up site. For example, you can pick between spinach or kale — or add on prepped foods like granola for a few extra bucks.
Take your own reusable bag — or get a free reusable bag by signing up for a month. Part of the proceeds from the CSA will go towards educating school kids on “growing, composting, gardening, and preparing food,” according to the website. Delivery service is available — but it sounds like you have to get 4 other neighbors to also sign up for delivery in order to make this happen.
Heart Beet Gardening
Cost: $25 for produce “comparable to what you could get at a farmer’s market for close to the same cost”
Pick-up location: Larchmont area of Los Angeles
For hyperlocavores in L.A., this CSA program’s the one to go for. We’re talking all organic produce grown on two front yard farms in the Larchmont area of Los Angeles — tended and harvested by the cute, local gardening company that’s Heart Beet Gardening.
This brand new program began today, June 19 — and subscriptions are already sold out — but more will be available come July. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Amy’s Farm CSA
Cost: $20 for 6 - 9 varieties of produce.
Location: Claremont, South Ontario
This cute CSA program gets its produce from Amy’s Farm, a program of the nonprofit Southern California Agricultural Land Foundation that seeks “equitable access to healthy food” and “preservation of local space to grow this food.” According to the website, “A large percentage of Amy’s Farm produce is donated to local food banks and shelters.”
Abundant Harvest Organics
Cost: $19.80 for a box “that will feed one to two people” for a week; $33.80 for a box that’ll feed a family of 4 for a week.
Pick-up locations: Downtown L.A., Hollywood, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Topanga, Valencia, Woodland Hills
Abundant Harvest Organics gets its produce from local family farms — profiled in detail on the AHO website — though some produce comes from the Coachella Valley region, depending on the season. You can easily add on to your box extras like raw milk, eggs, and chicken at whole sale prices.
J.R. Organics Farm
Cost: Roughly $29.50 per box of produce — each enough to feed a family of 4 — plus a $20 one-time fee.
Pick-up locations: Mar Vista, Santa Monica
Get all your produce from an organic farm in Escondido. Because J.R. Organics also sells at booths at local farmers’ markets, customers who pick up from those locations can trade in items for other fruits or veggies they like better. About 98 percent or more of the produce in the CSA boxes are grown at the J.R. Organics Farm, but some of the fruits comefrom other local, organic farmers.
You do need to sign up for a longer-term membership with a higher up-front cost, but trial four-box memberships start at just $118. J.R. Organics also offers flower shares at $10 per bouquet, if you’d like seasonal, fresh, locally grown flowers delivered with your CSA box.
Tierra Miguel Foundation
Cost: Roughly $42 per 15 lb box per week and up, depending on the package you buy.
Pick-up locations: Altadena, Burbank, Cheviot Hills, Claremont, Costa Mesa, Downtown L.A., Echo Park, Glendale, Granada Hills, Highland Park, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, Mar Vista, Newport Beach, Pasadena, Torrance, Valley Village, Van Nuys, and more.
Biodynamic farming fans can get all their produce from an organic, biodynamic farm in Pauma Valley, Calif., run by the nonprofit Tierra Miguel Foundation. See Jill Doughtie’s post at Eye Level Pasadena for a closer look at what the Tierra Miguel deliveries look like.
Perhaps the best-known CSA program in the area, the downsides to this program include the lack of exact pickup location info on the website, cumbersome sign-up process (you have to mail in a form) and the higher up front cost (at least $350 initial investment).
Auntie Em’s Delivery
Cost: $42 for 13 -15 types of produce, enough to feed 2 for a week.
Delivery area: Eagle Rock, Silver Lake, Glendale, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Hollywood, West L.A., Downtown L.A.
Can’t be bothered to pick-up local organic produce yourself? Get it delivered via Auntie Em’s Delivery, which buys local, organic produce from Santa Monica, Pasadena, Hollywood, and South Pasadena farmers’ markets as well as some local farms. Delivery doesn’t come cheap though, since in addition to the higher-than-average produce prices, you’ll need to fork up a refundable $60 deposit — and be ready to pay a $10 fee every time you forget to leave out the reusable delivery boxes by 6 am in the morning.
Still, you can’t beat Auntie Em’s on convenience. In addition to the produce, you can add on prepared meals, desserts, cheeses, and other grocery items — like Truffled Mac and Cheese with Spring Peas or frozen pie dough — for an extra charge.
Tried any of these CSAs? Share your experience in the comments. Still can’t find a CSA with a pick-up location you can walk or bike to? Almost all of the above options are open to adding on new pick-up locations. You’ll just need to do the work of getting neighbors interested, finding an appropriate pick-up spot, and coordinating with the CSA.