CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The model was introduced to the United States in the 1980s. The concept is simple: Pay a fee to the farm and receive shares in the farm in return, in the form of fresh produce. The fee helps the farm maintain production. There is generally a selection of produce in different sized “boxes” or “shares” based on household need. Some farms are organic, some aren’t. Some CSA programs allow you to choose your own produce, some do not. Some CSAs deliver to homes, others have shareholders pick up at the farms or at designated hubs in the city.
The advantages of a CSA include weekly local produce that is often picked within hours of delivery, the knowledge that you’re directly supporting local agriculture, an opportunity to meet the farmers, and the opportunity to interact with fellow shareholders.
Below is a list of CSAs in Toronto, based on research, but doesn’t cover every single one. Did we miss yours? Tell us about it in the comments below…
Cooper Road CSA
Members order from a weekly email list. In addition to produce, Cooper Road partners with neighbouring farmers to supply shareholders with additional produce, eggs, cheese and beef.
Pick up or delivery: Delivery, only within Riverdale
2013 Season: Third week of May until the end of October
More information and registration: 416.463.5462
Culinarium offers three CSA programs: a veggie box, an artisan box, and a meat share program.
Organic: Not 100%, but all local
Location: 705 Mount Pleasant Rd.
Pick up or delivery: Both
Day: Pick up on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays, delivery on designated days
2013 Season: The summer session runs for 26 weeks, staring the week of April 16th and ending the week of October 10th
More information and registration: firstname.lastname@example.org, 647.430.7004
Cultivate Toronto (CultivateTO) is a non-profit organization with the goal of turning urban backyards into a sustainable source of fresh, organic food.
Location: Wychwood, Dovercourt, and Riverdale
Pick up or delivery: Pickup
Day: Sunday evenings
2013 Season: Beginning of May to beginning of October
More information and registration: email@example.com, 416.238.5715
Note: Cultivate Toronto is also seeking backyards to grow in. Trained volunteers will establish, maintain and harvest while you receive a weekly share of the produce.
Shareholders receive vegetables grown on their farms and on neighbouring farms with four share sizes and take-what-you-need fresh herbs.
Location: The Annex
Pick up or delivery: First Narayever Congregation at 187 Brunswick Street in the Annex
2013 Season: June 4th through October 29th, with a Fall season to follow; winter share TBD
More information & registration: firstname.lastname@example.org, 519.855.4859 ext. 170
Fresh City Farms
With two acres of land and 3,000 square feet of greenhouse space, Fresh City Farms helps young entrepreneurs start their own city farming businesses all over Toronto.
Organic: Yes, however, while produce is grown using organic methods without using chemicals or synthetic fertilizers, not all produce is certified organic
Location: The Fresh City Farms home base is located in Downsview Park
Pick up or delivery: Delivery to Toronto, Mississauga, Etobicoke, Scarborough
Day: Wednesdays and Thursdays (day of the week depends on delivery area)
2013 Season: Year-round
More information and registration: 888.537.0333
Highmark Farm with Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs
Shoresh and Highmark Farm have maintained CSAs with other partners for a number of years. This summer, they’re working together. Shoresh’s CSA program is open to all.
Organic: Organic practices but not certified
Pick up details: Holy Blossom Temple (Bathurst and Eglinton) on Tuesdays; Kavanah Garden, Lebovic Campus (Bathurst and Rutherford) on Thursdays
2013 Season: Beginning of June to the end of October
More information & registration: email@example.com, 416.805.8382
Plan B Organic Farms
The farm is in West Flamborough on 50 acres of sandy loam, set upon a bed of limestone. Plan B sells at farmers’ markets and provides CSA shares year-round.
Pick up or delivery: Pick up
Day: Contact for more details
2013 Season: May 24th to October 4th, with fall and winter seasons to follow
More information and registration: firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking for more resources? Check out the Ontario CSA Directory.
Featured image generously provided by Culinarium from their Facebook page.