Q: What is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?
A: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a movement in which members of the community pledge their support to a small-scale, local farmer with whom all of the risks, and rewards of food production are shared. The movement began in Japan, Germany and Switzerland in the early 1960s as a response to issues of food safety and urbanization. In 1965, Japanese mothers who were concerned about food safety from imported and conventionally grown produce joined forces with farmers fearing the paving over of their farmland to create the first CSA programs, called “Teikei” in Japanese. The early CSA communities in Europe were inspired by the work of Rudolph Steiner as more socially equitable and economically sound farming/community partnerships. The movement spread from Germany to the East Coast of the U.S. in 1984 via two different German biodynamic farmers, Trauger Groh who started Temple-Wilton Community Farm in New Hampshire and Jan Vender Tuin who teamed up with Robyn Van En to start the Great Barrington CSA in Massachusetts. Today, a quarter century later, there are over 12,500 CSA farms across the U.S. with the largest being Capay Valley’s “Farm Fresh To You” (right here in the Sacramento area) with tens of thousands subscribers to their multi-farm CSA.
CSA is good for members of the community. With a CSA membership, you know who your farmer is, where your food comes from, and (most importantly) how your food is grown. A CSA membership allows us to deliver fresh, wholesome, nutritious food to you the same day it was harvested using the minimum amount of packaging and fuel. As a member of Singing Frogs Farm, you will have opportunities to visit the farm and meet the farmers and our awesome farm crew, meet other members of the Singing Frogs Farm CSA community, and learn more about sustainable agriculture through our Farm Tours, farm events and weekly newsletters.
CSA is good for the farmers too! We receive a steady source of income from your membership as well as the benefit of a guaranteed market for our produce - typically a big risk in small-scale farming. But best of all, we cut out the middle person so that you get your produce for lower than retail costs and we sell it to you for higher than wholesale prices. It’s a win-win solution! Also, as a CSA farm, we are able to act upon our crazy desire to grow literally hundreds of different crops all throughout the year, rather than focusing on just a dozen crops for markets or wholesale!
Q: How much does it cost?
A: Each Classic box of produce costs $26 and each Family box costs $33.50.
Q: How much food do I get in my box?
A: Each box offers 7 to 8 different items, usually with 1 to 2 herbs and one fruit. The food in the box is whatever is at the peak of harvest during that week and that season. Some boxes might be fairly light weight and full of hearty greens while other boxes will be quite heavy from pounds of tomatoes, melons, or winter squash. On our CSA page on the left hand column, we have 5 sample boxes from all the seasons during the year. Every week is different with some weeks having a tremendous harvest and other weeks a more slender harvest. Some people complain of too much food while others finish off the box by the weekend and buy even more from us at Farmers' Markets. Everyone’s eating habits and cooking styles are different, but we assure you: you will eat a lot more veggies when you join our CSA - and your body will thank you for it!
Q: Can I choose what I get?
A: We are a CSA farm, and the best of what we grow each week is harvested and packaged for you in your CSA box. We can not customize CSA boxes and still keep our prices low. However, at most pick-up sites and at the farm we keep “Trade Baskets” stocked with a few extra items. If there is something in your box that you can’t or won’t eat, please feel free to leave it in the trade box and pick another item of equal value from the Trade Box instead.
Q: How can I communicate with my farmers?
A: Every week that you receive a CSA box you will receive two emails: Monday evening or Tuesday morning we will email you what we anticipate harvesting for that week’s CSA plus any other notes that we may have for you. This is a great time to let us know you would like to add eggs, olive oil or rice. You will receive a second email Wednesday afternoon with a pdf of the newsletter. Please provide us with email address(es) where you would like to receive these updates.
Emailing Charlie the Llama (email@example.com) is the best way to communicate with us about the CSA and we try our best to get back to you in a timely manner. Also, refer to your Logistics email which will have Farmer Elizabeth's cell phone number.
Q: I forgot to pick up my CSA box, can I still get it?
A: At almost all pick-up sites your box is still available on Thursday for just such occasions. Refer to the logistics email we sent you when you signed up for specifics to your pick-up site. We realize that life happens. Be aware that your produce will be less fresh. Please try your best to pick up Wednesday, and if possible let your pick-up site host know if you will be late. If you cannot pick-up by Thursday evening, your box will no longer be available.
Q: How much of the produce in your boxes is from your farm?
A: For the past 12 years, over 97% of the produce in our CSA boxes has been grown here on our farm. Occasionally, we have a number of simultaneous harvest losses that we can’t overcome and/or we have another local farmer with sustainble practices that we want to support . In these instances, we will buy extra produce from trusted, local (Sonoma County), certified organic farms to fill the gaps.
Q: Are you certified organic?
A: We are not certified organic. Organic farming allows for the use of toxic organic pesticides, organic herbicides, and organic fungicides. While they generally don’t cause harm to us humans, these organic sprays are very detrimental to pollinators, especially bees, as well as to the entire community of beneficial insects in an ecosystem. Organic pesticides still kill indiscriminately, just like conventional pesticides! We practice what is often termed “Beyond Organic,” or "Organic 2.0." Organic farming also still encourages the use of plowing, discs and other tillage equipment which has proven to be highly detrimental to soil health and soil biology, and increases greenhouse gas emissions. While we support the organic movement - it is far better than the conventional alternative - we also believe that the organic movement needs to adopt even better management pratices. At Singing Frogs Farm, we meet or exceed all organic standards, but we also strive to create a healthy, vibrant, natural ecosystem that is strong, biodiverse, and resilient... and that also happens to produce food for us humans! For more information on organic farming and our farming practices, join us for one of our fun, inspirational and informative Farm Tours.
Q: Do you provide recipes?
A: We love providing recipes with every newsletter. We try to give you some basic information about your produce as well as some ideas and specific recipies in the "Produce Notes & Recipes" section of our newsletter. Our recipes focus on the new and unusual foods in that week’s box. Some of our members have found it very useful to keep a binder or folder of our newsletters as an ever growing recipe book by Singing Frogs Farm!
Q: What do I do if I’m on vacation?
A: We are always happy for you to have a friend, neighbor or co-worker take your CSA box. Please share as much information as is prudent with them about pick up. We’re happy to send an updated logistics for you to share. Alternately if you’re coming back just a day or two late, we’re happy to hold a box here for farm pick-up through Friday.
We are also happy to prorate your CSA box(es) for one “vacation” of any length per billing quarter (Feb-Apr, May-July, Aug-Oct and Nov-Jan). It helps the planning of the farm and CSA to know at the beginning of the billing quarter but we understand that’s not always possible so please just give as much notice as possible. If you have more than one “vacation”, please try to make one of the methods above (friends/farm pick-up) work. If you cannot find someone, we can donate your box. The value of your box is added to our EBT/CalFresh (aka FoodStamps) program.
We strive to maintain as much flexibility as is reasonable while still holding to the principles of CSA which allow us to provide food directly to your family at the lowest cost. Additionally we’ve found that the more changes in your CSA share, the greater the risk for error and we try to minimize that as much as possible.
Q: What happens if I forget to pick my box up?
A: At most pick-up sites and at the farm, you may still pick your box up the following day, Thursday. However, we can no longer guarantee the freshness of your produce. If you do pick your box up late on a Thursday, it is a good idea to let all your leafy greens soak in cold sink water for 20 minutes to an hour before washing, drying, and storing them. If you still forget to pick your box up by the end of Thursday, your food will either be donated to a local Food Bank, to our farm crew, or to our Girlie Girls (the chickens).
Q: How can I become a Pick-Up Site host?
A: We request that a minimum of 5 CSA boxes be delivered to any given pick-up site. This means that if you can gather four or more neighbors, co-workers or close friends together with yourself, you may contact us about the possibility of setting up a drop site. We are currently accepting new drop sites in Sebastopol, Graton and Santa Rosa.
Q: What if I forget to return my empty box?
A: Don’t go out of your way to bring boxes to your pick-up site or the farm - it’s not worth your time or gas. However, our boxes cost us upwards of $3 each, so please do remember to bring ALL of your boxes with you next time.
Q: How can I pay? Can I pay by credit card?
A: Currently, we accept cash or checks, as well as CalFresh Dollars for on-farm pick-ups. We do not accept credit cards.
Q: Can I visit the farm?
A: As a CSA member, you are welcome to visit the farm. Please do call ahead if it is not a CSA pick-up day as we would like to be present and available to welcome you. We also offer occasional Farm Tours, free to CSA members, throughout the year. See our CSA Member Events page.
Q: Can I buy a gift membership for someone else?
A: Yes, you are more than welcome to do so. We will work with you to arrange all of the details for your “Gift Membership.”
Q: Are you open to the public?
A: No, we are not. We are a for-profit business operating on private property. However, we do offer Farm Tours and other special events which will give you ample opportunity to enjoy the farm and learn about our land use management in a very in-depth and informative way.
Q: I am not planning on becoming a member of your farm. Can I still stop by your farm to buy some produce and eggs?
A: This is typically very challenging for us as we are busy operating a farm, we schedule all of our harvesting the night before, and we do not maintain a farm stand due to limited and challlenging access. However, for regular Farmers' Market customers, we are always happy to do our best to make our eggs and produce available to you. Please call well ahead to schedule a pick-up of fresh produce or eggs. Thank you!
Q: Can I sign up for a trial box?
A: Yes, you may arrange for a 4 week, classic-sized trial box at a cost of $120.
Singing Frogs Farm
1301 Ferguson Rd.
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Bee Friendly Farm!
CSA Frequently Asked Questions