After a mild winter, it promises to be a bountiful spring. And if you're thinking about all the asparagus and broccoli and tomatoes that will be popping up in the next few weeks, you might want to ensure a weekly fresh delivery of local veggies by signing up for a CSA. For most local farmers, a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture program is a way to fuel their operation from one season to the next. Subscribers to a CSA are essentially investors in the farm, purchasing a share of the farm's output for a particular season and receiving dividends in the form of fresh produce. With thermometers rarely reaching below freezing in the past few months, both farmers and CSA subscribers alike are excited for what is sure to be a plentiful harvest.
With over 35 drop sites throughout South Carolina, Pinckney's Produce boasts one of the largest CSA operations in the state. Their spring season begins April 16 and runs 12 weeks. They offer four different share sizes, each with a different cost to the consumer: a $216 small share (ideal for one person), a $276 medium share (perfect for two people), a $396 large share (a good value for a family of three or four), and a $516 extra large share (ideal for a family of four to six). Their produce availability varies throughout the spring and summer months but includes beans, beets, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, cantaloupes, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, sweet onions, lettuce, mixed leafy greens, dry peanuts, peaches, radishes, rutabaga, yellow squash, strawberries, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, watermelon, zucchini, peppers, collards, mixed greens, potatoes, sweet potatoes, blueberries, and blackberries. They have plenty of convenient pick-up locations in the area, including Ted's Butcherblock at 334 East Bay St. and Earth Fare at 74 Folly Road Blvd. See their website for a complete list.
Rosebank's spring CSA harvest runs from April 18-July 6 and provides its customers with a few different options as to how they'll get their produce. Those who are living in downtown Charleston are presented with a deluxe box delivery, which costs a bit more but comes with personal, concierge-level attention from the staff and delivery to your doorstep every Thursday. For those who wish to pick their produce up, you can do so at the farm's Johns Island location or at several spots throughout the area, including The Co-Op at 2019 Middle St. on Sullivan's Island, Burbage's at 157 Broad St., and Redux Contemporary Art Center at 136 St. Philip St. downtown. See website for other drop sites. This season's harvest will include Asian greens, asparagus, arugula, basil, beets, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collards, corn, cucumbers, English peas, green beans, Hakurei turnips, sugar snaps, yellow squash, zucchini, kale, leeks, lettuce, mesclun mix, pickling cucumbers, potatoes, radishes, strawberries, Swiss chard, and tomatoes.
The Ambrose family starts their CSA on April 1, but will accept memberships until they're full. The season runs for 13 weeks (or more, depending on conditions), and the Ambroses offer four different share sizes: $224 for a small share, $350 for medium, $490 for large, and $630 for extra large. Father/son farmer duo Pete and Sam Ambrose grow 100 percent of their CSA produce themselves. This spring, they plan on harvesting blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes, wheat corn, several varieties of lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, onions, herbs, broccoli, collards, kale, spring onions, asparagus, Swiss chard, beets, radishes, spinach, arugula, and mesclun mix. There are about 20 different pick-up points, many of which are private residences around the Charleston area. You can also pick up your share at their farm on Wadmalaw Island. When asked what she loves most about her family's CSA, Barbara Ambrose says, "Not only am I eating local and supporting local business, but it's also good for me."
The Legare family has received a lot of applications for their spring CSA already, but they still have a few openings. They offer two share sizes — a full share for $355 or a half share for $245. Their spring crop will yield potatoes, onions, carrots, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, broccoli, collards, eggplant, and Swiss chard, among others. They have several established drop-off points including the Square Onion at 18 Resolute Lane in Mt. Pleasant, the Learning Center at 2049 Savannah Hwy. in West Ashley, Trident Tech's North Charleston campus at 7000 Rivers Ave., and the Pour House at 1977 Maybank Hwy. on James Island. However, according to Linda Legare, customer relations are very important to her family's farm. The Legares don't just drop their CSA boxes with somebody and let their subscribers come pick them up. Instead, they stick around so they can meet and get to know their customers.
Maria Baldwin's revitalized farm is offering a 14-week spring CSA beginning on April 18. The medium share will run you $325 and includes about 5-6 pounds of produce weekly, sufficient for two people, while the large share, suitable for four veggie-lovers, will come with 8-9 pounds each week and costs $420. Included in their bundles this spring will be Swiss chard, broccoli rabe, napa cabbage, bok choy, kale, collards, spinach, arugula, carrots, turnips, beets, rutabaga, broccoli, peas, pea tendrils, salad mix, green beans, squash, and strawberries. You can fetch your bundle of fresh produce from any one of nine different delivery locations in the area, including the East Bay True Value Hardware store at 18 Society St. in downtown Charleston, another at the Normandy Farm Artisan Bakery at 32 Windermere Blvd. in West Ashley, and Lucia's Premium Pet Store at 162 Seven Farms Drive in Daniel Island.
Stanley Gruber and Susan Kirlin are in their 65th year at Gruber Farms, and they couldn't be more proud of their heritage. Their spring CSA, beginning April 16, will include fresh beets, broccoli, collards, kale, lettuce, sweet onions, green sweet peas, radishes, snow peas, spinach, patty pan squash, yellow squash, zucchini squash, strawberries, Swiss chard, and turnips. The produce is offered in three share sizes: a $275 small batch ideal for one to two people, a $385 medium pack for a family of three to four, and a $495 large bundle perfect for larger families of five to six people. A refrigerated trailer pulled by Gruber's pick-up truck hauls the crop from one of their 11 drop-off sites to another. Locations include the Citadel at 171 Moultrie St. in downtown Charleston, Rococo German Bakery at 1750 Savannah Hwy. in West Ashley, and Haddrell's Point Tackle Supply at 885 Ben Sawyer Blvd. in Mt. Pleasant. See their website for a complete list.
Lowland Farms, which was formerly Heirloom Acres, has a smaller-scale CSA, offering about 30-50 shares. They will be accepting sign-ups at the Charleston Farmers Market starting April 7 and will offer a small size share for $250 and a larger one for $400. Farmer Ken Melton says their all-heirloom vegetable selection will include lettuce, radishes, onions, cucumbers, carrots, squash, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Customers can pick up their produce from the farm's Johns Island location, at the Marion Square market, and also at the Pour House on James Island.
Although the crew at Boone Hall Farms has limited spots remaining in their spring CSA enrollment, they will accept applications until they are completely full. Andy Berkler, the farm's CSA manager, says they are offering a one-size-fits-all 12-week share for $250 that will include strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, watermelon, cantaloupe, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, honey, red cabbage, sweet corn, okra, eggplant, and Mac's Pride Peaches. Customers can pick up their fresh smorgasbord at the Boone Hall Farms Market at 2521 Hwy. 17 N. in Mt. Pleasant.
Edward Hudson and his family experimented with their first-ever CSA last fall, and now they are accepting applications for their 12-week spring share, which will begin in late April. The harvests will include beans, bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupes, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, collards, eggplant, leafy greens, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, yellow squash, turnips, tomatoes, sweet corn, berries, onions, watermelons, zucchini, and sweet potatoes. Customers can pick up their fruits and veggies at a handful of locations including two in Mt. Pleasant, Page's Thieves Market at 1460 Ben Sawyer Blvd. and Coastal Cupboard at 664 Long Point Road, one in West Ashley at Duvall Catering & Event Design at 1030 Jenkins Road, and a final spot in Columbia at Senate's End, 302 Senate St.
Meg Moore's Dirthugger Farm runs a CSA that caters to smaller families, couples, and singles looking for fresh, local produce. The program runs for about 10 weeks each season, delivering three to four vegetables each week. In an effort to make her CSA more personable, Moore e-mails customers before each harvest with the produce that will be available and asks that they respond with their veggie preferences. Moore farms a unique variety of crops including ginger, heirloom eggplant, grape tomatoes, edible flowers, and sunberries. Her CSA pick-up is scheduled for Thursdays at either Muddy Waters on James Island (1739 Maybank Hwy.) or at the Charleston Community Yoga Center at Avondale Station in West Ashley (815 Savannah Hwy.).