It’s time to start thinking about one of the best parts of warmer weather: Local produce!
And, it’s time to start thinking about which Pittsburgh CSA program you’ll sign up for this year. CSA, or ‘Community Supported Agriculture’ programs allow proactive eaters to financially support farms at the beginning of each growing season in exchange for fresh and seasonal produce as the year progresses.
The idea of CSAs was developed by organic farmer Robyn Van En in 1985 to ensure farms have the resources they need early enough to grow food for communities all year long. CSA members essentially get a “share” of the farm, and benefit from the success of the farm by receiving fresh produce, usually on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
In Pennsylvania, we’re lucky enough to have over 55,000 operating farms across the state. Many of these farms in the Pittsburgh area provide different CSA options for residents to support local agriculture, and receive local produce in return.
With the weather heating up and farming season about to begin, now is the perfect time to sign up for a CSA program, which typically begin distributing throughout the spring and summer.
Below, you’ll find 9 different CSA programs with pick ups in Pittsburgh from farms located throughout Southwestern PA.
Blackberry Meadows Farm in Natrona specializes in rare and endangered seeds. The farmers are constantly adapting production systems and establishing better microbial habitat in order to give the plants everything they need to maximize nutrition. It is one of the oldest CSAs in the area, and the owners meet their customers every week, and invite them to come work on the farm or join them for Thanksgiving dinner. Workshare options are available. Produce is seasonal.
- The weekly CSA runs from June through October.
- Pickup at the farm or Phipps Conservatory
- Membership options can be viewed online, and range from $350 to $675.
Get organic produce every week from another one of the oldest Pittsburgh CSA programs in the area. Members enjoy seasonal produce from cabbage and broccoli to herbs and rhubarb from the Rochester farm, and are welcome to rank their favored and disfavored veggies. Coffee, mushroom, cheese, and meat subscriptions are also available.
- The weekly CSA runs from June 2 through November 20 (25 weeks).
- Over 50 pickup locations are available, including in Shadyside, Lawrenceville, Beaver, Squirrel Hill and Dormont.
- Membership options can be viewed online, and range from $500 a season to $750.
Just because produce isn’t beautiful doesn’t mean it’s not tasty! 412 Food Rescue takes ‘Ugly Produce’ (produce that is perfectly good to eat, but not aesthetically pleasing) and sends it out in their CSA shares for 12 weeks from July through September. Each box contains approximately 15 lbs. of various produce items, plus specialty items, from Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance’s local farms.
- The CSA spans 12 weeks
- There are seven pick-up locations available, including East Liberty, South Hills, North Side and Lawrenceville
- Membership can be reserved online, and the price is $240 for the season
- SNAP/EBT payments can also be made.
Brenckle’s Farm in Zelienople has been providing Beaver Valley with fresh produce and flowers since 1949. Brenckle’s grows a variety of organic produce, including onions, kale, radishes, beet greens, Swiss chard, arugula, Brussels sprouts, watermelon, and more.
- There are weekly and bi-weekly options available from June 12 through November 13.
- Brenckle’s Farm offers seven pickup locations in the North Hills, and a $25 discount for farm pickup.
- Membership options can be viewed online, and range from $26 a week to $32 a week.
Dillner Family Farm grows a variety of seasonal crops, like eggplant, tomatoes, pepper, and cabbage. Their program has an egg subscription add on, and an option for specials, where members can add extras to their order. Examples of these extras include Amish pies, breads, flower bouquets, cheeses, goat milk soap and lotions, Dillner Family Farm honey, maple syrup, fall decorations and more.
- There are weekly and bi-weekly options available from May through October.
- Over 30 pickup locations are available, including Bridgeville, Gibsonia, Swissvale, Regent Square and Allison Park.
- Membership options can be viewed online, and range from $345 to $612.
Edible Earth Farms in Tionesta was founded in 2010 by April Parker, and is now run by Parker and her husband, Johnny. The Parkers are dedicated to producing high-quality, organic food. CSA members can enjoy fresh produce every week, including radishes, zucchini, potatoes, and corn.
- The CSA runs weekly from June through October (20 weeks).
- Over 25 pickup locations are available, including Mt. Lebanon, Mt. Washington, Wexford, Millvale and Green Tree.
- Membership options can be viewed online, and range from $446 to $631.
Harvest Valley Farm began as a poultry and vegetable farm in the 1950s, and transferred into only vegetable production in the 1980s. Members can enjoy produce such as corn, tomatoes, green beans, and Pennsylvania-exclusive Simply Sweet Onions their subscription. The farm also offers a cheese subscription, and meat add-ons.
- There are weekly and bi-weekly options available from June through November (23 weeks).
- Pickup is available at the farm in Valencia or at R.A.W. Training in Gibsonia, where pickup is structured like a farmer’s market.
- Membership options can be viewed online, and range from $285 to $610.
Enjoy fresh and unique produce every week through Who Cooks for You’s Market CSA program. Basil, beets, escarole, cilantro, and chard are just some examples of fresh-grown fruits, vegetables and herbs that members can choose at select Farmers Markets from May 11 through November 25.
- Market shopping is available at the Bloomfield Market on Saturdays, the Squirrel Hill Citi Parks Market on Sundays, and the East Liberty Citi Parks Market on Mondays.
- Market CSA cards are available from $111 to $722
- Market CSA members receive 10% off all sales at markets
Cherry Valley Organics offers a unique Farm Share CSA program where each box is customized with the fruits and vegetables that customers select as their favorites. Members can choose from products such as vegetables, herbs, flowers, potted plants, herbal teas, and herbal bath & body products.
- The CSA program runs for 22 weeks
- There are multiple pickup locations available, including Squirrel Hill, Upper St. Clair, Crafton, Castle Shannon, Beaver Falls, Lawrenceville and Mt. Lebanon.
- Membership options can be viewed online. Subscribers pay $30 a week.