As a child, were your favorite school trips to see a farm? No? It was the planetarium and the zoo? Oh, ok, that’s fine – Then, as an adult, are you invested in your community and wholesome food? There we go, I knew we could find some common ground. In that case, you may want to sign up for a CSA, and luckily, Fort Collins has a lot of good options for you to do so.

First of all, what’s a CSA? No, not the CSI, there’s nothing illegal here – unless you’re referring to criminally delicious, locally-sourced produce. Yeah, I’ll see myself out. But in the meantime, a CSA, also known as Community Supported Agriculture, is actually an arrangement between local farmers and the community they live in.

The basic idea is that a farmer may offer ‘shares’ of their crops to the public, and whenever someone purchases a share (offered seasonally), they then get a box of vegetables (or other produce and foodstuffs, depending on the farm) every week throughout the planting season. So, it’s basically like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh, except when you find something in your box and have no idea what it is, you can just ask your provider instead of furiously Googling “what does a large orange tuber thing taste like.”

This allows members to buy food directly from the fields around them, which lets consumers get the freshest possible food, visit the farm, learn about where their food comes from and invest more in the innerworkings of their community. Meanwhile, CSAs let farmers connect with the people who’re going to purchase their wares earlier in the year before they have to start spending long days in the fields, boosts their incomes in the early points of the season before they start reaping what they sowed (literally) and lets them meet the people they’re growing food for.

Overall, CSAs are a very community-oriented practice that helps people try new foods (depending on the season and what their local farmer is growing) and creates a very real shared risk where CSA members and their farmers reap the bounties and share in the losses of a season together. Fort Collins has several farms in the vicinity that offer CSA shares, the list of which you can find here. But we also pulled a few of them from the ranks, so you can browse through what some of our local farmers offer in their subscriptions.

Typically Offers: Fruit shares, including cherries, peaches pears, apples, plums, grapes and tomatoes.

However, Ela Farms lost a lot of trees in the deep freeze that came last October, so they’re not currently offering CSAs this year – but you can sign up for next year to call dibs on fresh fruit, or support them at farmer’s markets.

Typically Offers: Flowers, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and apples

Typically Offers: Chicken, eggs and pork sausage

However, do keep in mind that their prices include a deposit, membership fee and then a monthly order payment.

Typically Offers: Various fruits and vegetables

Unfortunately, Blue Barrel Farm's shares are currently full for 2021, but you can join their waitlist if you’re so inclined.

Typically Offers: Greens, root crops, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, melons

Typically Offers: Mixed vegetables, tomatoes, eggs, tortilla chips, corn and flour tortillas

So, if community and the freshest produce available sounds appealing to you, go check out what your local farmer has to offer. At the very least, a CSA sounds like a truly adventurous way to get your groceries each week, and if you dress up properly, you get to feel like a hardy pioneer out collecting your crops. Which is never a downside.

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