Have you ever heard of CSA? Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is the easiest way to support your local farmers and eat locally grown produce (or protein, or cheese). CSA allows you to pay farmers in their off seasons, helping the farms stay afloat during leaner times, in exchange for weeks of whatever they’re harvesting. The annual CSA Fair was last Saturday during Urbana’s Market in the Square. Organized and hosted by Common Ground Food Co-op, The Land Connection, Urbana’s Market in the Square, and the Urbana Business Association, the event brought together CSA vendors offering produce, meat, flowers, and desserts.

CSA functions like this: You pay a set amount of money up front, before the season starts, and then each week over the course of the growing season (late-May through October, though some are year-round) you receive a set amount of product. Some of the CSAs below offer small and large options. Generally the smaller options feed 1-2 people, whereas the larger ones feed 3-4. Obviously, if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, a smaller share isn’t going to be enough for one. You’ll have to consider your actual (and perhaps ideal) weekly produce consumption when signing up. And it’s important to remember, too, that “pieces” can refer to weight of produce, i.e., a half-pound of salad mix, or a pound of potatoes. If you’re not quite sure, reach out to the producer you’re interested in supporting; they are all happy to answer your questions. Worried about missing a week or two while away on vacation? No biggie — have a friend take your share for that week, or contact your farmer to make other arrangements.

In addition to the amount of stuff you want, other factors to consider are price and pick up time/location. For the most part, you’ll get about the same types of options across categories — the growing climate is the same, obviously. Everything is dependent upon the weather, and sometimes crops fail, which is to say: Nothing is guaranteed, but all of these producers will do their best to get you your shares.

Since this is a Food & Drink article, I’m sharing food and drink CSA options. Please note that there are other producers like Delight Flower Farm and Illinois Willows, specifically, that offer flower CSAs. If you have the expendable income, I suggest these. There’s nothing more charming and enjoyable than a bouquet of fresh flowers on your table.

Bane Family Meats

Photo of poster of Bane Family Meats CSA price schedule. The poster contains pricing information, as well as contact information. Photo by Jessica Hammie. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Bane Family Meats CSA is a monthly CSA offered year-round — you can sign up for 6 or 12 months. There are options at 5, 10, and 20 pounds per month. All of the meat is pasture-raised, and free of antibiotics, pesticides, and GMOs. For this sort of CSA you need to be committed to eating a variety of meat: shares include chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and turkey; bundles vary by month. They will deliver to you, or you can arrange for your monthly meat pick up at farm near Sidney.

  • Season: 6- or 12-month shares, monthly
  • 5 lbs share: 6 months $252 ($8.40/lb) | 12 months $504 ($8.40/lb)
  • 10 lbs share: 6 months $454 ($7.57/lb) | 12 months $875 ($7.29/lb)
  • 20 lbs share: 6 months $845 ($7.04/lb) | 12 months $1575 ($6.56/lb)
  • Pick up: At farm, or delivery in C-U.

For additional details, contact David Bane at 217-722-2188 or davidpbane@aol.com.

Berries & Flour

Undoubtedly the sweetest of our local CSAs, Berries & Flour offers a very flexible dessert subscription, year round. Flavors and options change seasonally. Your options include:

• 6” cake | $60
• 4 oz of jam | $12
• 8 oz of a shrub (a drinking vinegar that is delicious) or a syrup | $42
• 0.5-1 oz of loose leaf tea | $12
• wild cocktail kit (does not include booze) | $ 42

Prices are per week, which I understand to be per order, but according to the website, “Prices in a subscription are reduced for orders of two months or more.”

Pick up is available at the Champaign Farmers Market (Tuesdays, 3:30-6:30 p.m.), Sola Gratia Farm (Thursdays, 4-6 p.m.), at Berries & Flour (time arranged via email). Delivery is an additional $5. If you’re already a Hendrick House Farm CSA member, you can also collect your goods at those locations.

Additional information and sign up forms are available on the Berries & Flour website.

Blue Moon

Orange, yellow, and purple carrots in two rectangular containers. The containters are lined with a blue, yellow, purple, and orange striped fabric. Photo by Jessica Hammie. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Blue Moon is an incredibly popular vendor at Urbana’s Market at the Square, and for good reason: the produce is organic and delicious. You’ve probably also had Blue Moon produce at some local restaurants. Blue Moon also offers shares in three sizes: half share, full share, and veggie lovers. This CSA also offers a bunch of add-ons (for additional cost) including flowers from Delight Flower Farm, meat and eggs from Bane Family Meats, eggs from Moore Family Farm, and mushrooms from Flyaway Farm.

  • Season: 24 weeks; May 27-November 4
  • Small Share: 4-6 pieces; $350 | $14.50/week
  • Large Share: 6-8 pieces; $480 | $20/week
  • Veggie Lovers: 10-12 pieces $840 | $35/week
  • Pick up: Wednesdays between 5 and 6 p.m. at the Faith United Methodist Church on Prospect Avenue, Champaign and Lincoln Square Mall parking lot, Urbana.

Sign up here.

Brackett Farm

Produce from Brackett Farm CSA. Lettuce is in a bag with a watermelon print, strawberries are in a small mesh colander, other leafy greens, green onions, and Asian chives are piled in a salad spinner. Everything sits on a counter. Photo by Jessica Hammie. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Bob Brackett’s CSA offers a wide variety of organic fruits and vegetables. His pick up system is unique: instead of picking up a box, you show up during the allotted time and you can bag/box your own stuff. He’ll often offer options — say, kale or pak choy — so you can choose what you prefer. With the Brackett CSA, there’s a fruit included almost every week, and they are really tasty (and unique: gooseberries and currants, among others). I’ve signed up for Brackett’s CSA in the past, and have been very pleased with the quality, quantity, and variety of selections.

  • Season: 24 weeks; May 26-November 3
  • Share: 5-12 pieces; $500 | $21.70/week
  • Pick up: Tuesdays between 4 and 7 p.m., 611 W Union St, Champaign

Sign up information is here.

Hendrick House

A photo of a print out of a recipe card for Hendrick House Farm's CSA. On the printout is a list of ingredients and instructions for recipes for those ingredients. Photo by Jessica Hammie. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

This is the second year for Hendrick House’s CSA. Hendrick House always puts forth quality, and the CSA is no different. Pick up locations at Betsy’s Bistro at Parkland and at the Fields, as well as Hendrick House and Hendrick House Farm.

  • Season: 20 weeks, June to October
  • Weekly Family Share: feeds 4-5; $500 | $25/week
  • Weekly Personal Share: feeds 1-2; $300 | $15/week
  • Bi-monthly Family Share: feeds 4-5; $300 | $15/week – pick up every other week, approximately 10-11 weeks
  • Bi-monthly Personal share: feeds 1-2; $150 | $7.50/week – pick up every other week, approximately 10-11 weeks

Pick up:

  • Betsy’s Bistro at the Fields, Friday before 5 p.m.
  • Betsy’s Bistro at Parkland, Tuesday before 2 p.m.
  • Hendrick House Farm (3004 N Rising Rd, Champaign), Friday after 11 a.m., Saturday and Sunday anytime
  • Hendrick House (904 W Green St, Urbana), Friday after 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday before 5 p.m.

Sign up online.

Joy of Illinois

A photo of flyers for Joy of Illinois Farm's Meet the Barn Babies event. The flyers are fanned out on table with a blue check table cloth. The flyer pictures photos of baby goats and a description of the event. Directions to the farm are included at the bottom of the page. Photo by Jessica Hammie. Editor's Note, March 23, 2020: This event has been cancelled. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Joy of Illinois offers goat milk and egg CSAs. Both are available for full or half season shares; order them here. The farm also offers meat: sheep, goats, ducks, chickens, hogs, turkeys, and holiday geese. Use this link to reserve those, too.

Unprocessed goat milk share

  • Full season, March 21-November 21 (36 weeks): $236
  • Half season, March 21-July 18 (18 weeks: $123

Fresh free-range egg share

  • Full season, March 7-November 7 (36 weeks)
  • Dozen share: $198
  • Half dozen share: $108
  • Half season, March 7-July 14 (18 weeks)
  • Dozen share: $102
  • Half dozen share: $56

Red Crib Acres

Red Crib Acres is an apple orchard, and the CSA is for apples. There isn’t any fruit-exclusive CSA, so this one is a nice addition. A full share will get you 20.5 pecks of apples over 10 weeks, and a half share will get you 10.5 pecks of apples over 10 weeks. The CSA is based on a points system, so if you don’t want as many apples (or the available varieties), you can use them later in the season. 

For more info, email John Williams at redcribacres@gmail.com.

  • Season: 10 weeks, late August/early September through October
  • Half Share: $125
  • Full share: $200
  • Pick up: Thursdays, 4 to 6 p.m. at Sola Gratia Farm, Urbana

Sign up here.

Sitka Salmon

Sitka Salmon is obviously not a local producer, but it’s a company that has been embraced by the local C-U community. You can find Sitka at the farmers’ markets, but in joining their CSF (Community Supported Fishery), wild-caught Alaskan fishes can be delivered to your house once a month. Enrollment is on 3-, 7-, or 9-month intervals; current enrollments start in April.

For more information, and to sign up, visit the Sitka Salmon website.

Sola Gratia

Two types of kale and green garlic are in wicker baskets on a table. There are two small signs that indicate the product, and that each bunch is $3. Photo by Jessica Hammie. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Sola Gratia was started by St. Matthew Lutheran Church and Faith in Place, and donates at least ten percent of its produce to Eastern Illinois Food Bank. The farm will be growing 125 different varieties of over 50 different crops. There are partial and full shares, as well as add-ons like bread (Rick’s bakery, $100), Flyaway Farms mushrooms ($100, twice a month), and Delight Flower Farm flowers ($200/$300). You can also coordinate your Bane Family Meat CSA pick up to grab all your stuff in one stop.

  • Season: 20 weeks, June to October
  • Partial Share: feeds 1-2; $315 | $15.75/week
  • Full Share: feeds 3-4, $550 | $27.50/week
  • Pick up: The Land Connection Tuesday Champaign Farmers’ Market, 3:30-6:30 p.m.; Thursdays at farm (2200 S Philo Rd, Urbana), 4-6 p.m.
  • Delivery: $140

Sign up information is here.

Triple S Farms

Triple S Farms might be one of the better-known meat producers in the area; you can find their goods at Common Ground Food Co-op and Harvest Market. They don’t offer a traditional CSA, but instead you can join their Buyer’s Club, which will allow you to buy some items at a discount. Order pick up is monthly. Request more info here.

Top image by Jessica Hammie.