The Cost of a CSA

When we joined Monroe in 2008, we signed up for a working membership. To figure out if the cost of a CSA would be worth wile for our family, Rick and I sat down with our grocery store receipts from the months past, and added up just what we spent on produce alone. Then we figured out the mileage to drive to Monroe in Kersey once a week, and what that would cost us in gas.

The fuel costs combined with the membership and produce fees from Monroe were still FAR, and I mean FAR, less than what we’d been paying at the grocery store for often times non-organic, shipped across the country, under ripe produce from the previous summer.

About a week after we signed up (before things were really started for members on the farm), I got a call from another member who also lived South of Denver and was interested in car-pooling to the farm each week. That meant our fuel cost was cut in half from what we calculated it would be.

For the whole summer’s worth of produce, including fuel costs, this is what we spent in 2008 (when gas prices were through the roof, remember??). And, it should be noted that we froze, stored and canned some of this produce and ate it all winter too.

2008 Membership Fee (working member): $100
2008 Produce Fee (half share): $135
Fuel (we got aprox. 20 miles/gallon): $497.07/2 = $248.54
Total for the summer: $483.54

That amount divided by the number of weeks we received produce from the farm (approx. 24 last year) is $20.14/week on about 25lbs of local, fresh, organic produce. This does not count all the corn that was not in the bags (and there was a ton last year); and the 2 flats of strawberries, asparagus, and roasted green chiles which were “pick your own” that I brought home in addition to the share; or factor in what we didn’t have to buy this winter.

You have to remember that this number could change based on how far you drive to the farm (assuming you’re a working member), car pooling with more or less people, fuel costs, and how bountiful the harvest is. Or, it would obviously change if you are a non-working member as well, and of course the fees were a bit more this year (though gas is SO much less!).

The produce is so incredibly fresh. As in, picked just that morning! And you’ll never get a white fleshed, pithy tomato from the Monroe’s.

Last year, the half share was plenty for our family. We ate most of it in a week, and were able to store what was left. However, for 2009, we uped our share to a full size with plans to store/can/freeze much of the excess in order to ensure our grocery bills for winter produce are further reduced, and, well, we have become addicted to the veggies.

The savings is incredible! And the food is out of this world!

It should also be said, that we got a lot more out of the CSA last year then produce. We made new friends, Rick has a new hunting partner, Henry got to play in the dirt all summer, eat melons warm from the sun, pick strawberries, irreplaceable memories… it is so very very cool.

parts of this post were excepted from my personal blog: Schell Urban Homestead

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