CSA is an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture, which is a relatively new direct marketing model for farms that supply weekly boxes of locally grown, farm fresh, organically grown produce to area consumers, who become shareholders for the season. Shepherd’s Valley is one of the oldest CSA farms in Kansas, with one of the longest growing seasons offered in the state. We offer more variety of food from week to week than most farms in the Midwest.
There are three seasonal CSA shares offered in 2018. The Spring CSA share season is 8 weeks in length, and runs from early April through May. The Summer CSA share season covers 13 weeks from June through August. The Fall CSA share season is another 8 weeks long, running from the second week of September through the end of October. Customers may participate in any or all of the three seasonal share programs to receive weekly boxes of food delivered to local pickup points in Emporia, Manhattan, Council Grove, and Strong City. If you purchase all three seasonal CSA shares at one time, there is an automatic 5% discount off the total price. Non-shareholders may purchase surplus produce when available in season.
Share contents differ from week to week depending on what is being harvested. The Spring CSA share is smaller in volume and variety than the other two seasonal shares, because the growing season is only beginning. Summer and fall CSA shares come in both regular and large (family size) share options. Regular shares are designed for 1-2 adults. Large shares are designed for small families. Large shares generally contain about 30-35% more volume than regular shares. Weekly shares are packed in half-bushel wax boxes. Shareholders bring a bag, box, tote, or other container to the designated pickup location every week to take their shares home; leaving the share boxes to be returned back to the farm.
Each of the three seasonal shares comes with special added bonuses, including honey, pastured eggs, and jams. These bonuses introduce our shareholders to other Shepherd’s Valley foods and value-added products that may then be purchased separately from the shares. Shareholders may also choose a weekly option of pastured/organic eggs to be added to their CSA shares.
In the lists of foods grown each season, you should note that not all of these items are included in the CSA shares every week, but will appear in the shares at their appropriate harvest time. When the season is in full swing, shareholders will typically find 9-12 different types of fruits, veggies, herbs, or value-added products in the weekly CSA shares.
There are surpluses of certain crops available during each season that may be purchased separately. We notify our shareholders when these items are available, and indicate the prices at that time. Shareholders may order these extras to be added to their weekly CSA share. Some folks give us “standing orders” for certain items every week, such as eggs, kale, chard, or spinach. Others prefer to purchase these items as needed. Non-shareholders are eligible to purchase these surpluses as well. Orders may be made on-line for delivery at the designated pickup point, or arrangements may be made to come to the farm for pickup.
There are no guarantees on the total volume of food that will be available in any seasonal CSA share. Factors such as rainfall amounts and other weather issues (hail, wind, flooding) can affect crop yields and quality. We can only promise in good faith to do our best to provide nutrient dense, wholesome food to our shareholders. Shareholders share in the risks of farming. In good years there are surpluses available; in poorer years, less is available.
Shareholders receive a weekly e-mail from Shepherd’s Valley, detailing exactly what to expect in that week’s CSA share, and projecting what will be available in coming weeks. We notify shareholders of special offers, surpluses, and upcoming events, as well as providing recipes and useful hints on how to prepare and cook various food items in the shares.
Each shareholder group generally has an area coordinator who works with both the shareholders and Shepherd’s Valley farm to make deliveries work smoothly and efficiently. When you purchase a CSA share, the area coordinator’s contact information along with specific delivery details are e-mailed to you.
The Emporia area shareholder group utilizes a “take turns” approach to CSA share deliveries wherein each shareholder commits to drive to the farm (15 miles from town) at least once per CSA season to pick up and deliver all share boxes to a local drop-off point in Emporia.
Emporia CSA share deliveries are on Tuesday evenings from 6:30-7:00 p.m.
Manhattan, Council Grove and Chase County groups have weekly CSA shares delivered to a designated drop-off location in their area.
Manhattan: deliveries are on Wednesday evenings from 5:00-5:30 p.m.
Council Grove: deliveries are on Friday evenings from 5:00-5:30 p.m.
Chase County: Strong City deliveries are on Friday evenings from 7:00-7:30 p.m.
We have monthly deliveries for a large number of customers in Topeka. We do NOT currently offer the weekly CSA shares in this area, but do maintain a large customer base thereh, providing egg shares, honey, meats, surplus produce, and other customer orders.
Winter Greens: During November and early December, we usually have a few cold hardy greens on an “as we have it” basis, limited to local area residents only (Emporia, Chase county, Americus, and Council Grove areas). Food items are individually priced at that time. We do NOT utilize a weekly CSA share program during the winter. We will contact our customers if and when these items are available.
IMPORTANT NOTES: Remember, you do NOT have to be a CSA shareholder to purchase produce or farm products from Shepherd’s Valley. However, shareholders do get first opportunity, and often purchase any surpluses available. Products generally available for purchase year round to all our customers (shareholders and non-shareholders) include the following:
- Pastured Eggs
- Bee Pollen
- Redmond Real Salt
- Jams & Jellies
- Organic garden soil amendments & livestock feed supplements
CSA shareholders and non-shareholder customers may special order asparagus, blueberries, or strawberries during the spring and summer when they are in season. Morel and oyster mushrooms are available in season in limited quantities. We occasionally offer Kansas grown pecans for our customers in November and December. These are mostly sourced from other area farms.
New “box food” companies are popping up across the country, advertising organic food delivered to your door every week. Many of these companies are gone within 1-2 years of start-up. However, please remember that most of these companies are getting their food from warehouses nearly 1,000 miles away. These foods are not “fresh picked,” “vine ripened,” or locally grown. They may have been in cold storage for many days or weeks before you receive them. You also need to be careful about “organic” labels where the fine print reads “85% organic” or some percentage that is less than 100% – a percentage that allows for contaminants, additives, and/or questionable ingredients. Being dependent on food sources thousands of miles away is never a good option. If you want the freshest produce possible that is grown without chemicals, and grown within a few miles of your home by people you know and trust, Shepherd’s Valley has got it. We’re not a fly-by-night operation. We’ve been growing wholesome food for area residents for nearly 40 years, long before “organic” was trendy.
By participating in a CSA share program, you and your family will learn to “eat with the seasons” and experience the health benefits of freshly harvested wholesome food. Many people have turned their health around and made remarkable improvements with such a simple diet change. We think you’ll be glad to have made a wise decision in the way your family eats by learning not only where and how your food is grown, but by visiting the farm and getting to know the growers of your food. We welcome the opportunity to meet you, and count it a great privilege to provide such wonderful food to our neighbors. We appreciate you, our many shareholders and customers, and want you to know that your support is important to us.