One of the most common complaint I’ve heard when discussing eating better foods is about how expensive it can be. I can say that at times it does seem that way with foods when we started thinking about it a couple of years ago.

While we wanted to save money, we didn’t want to go cheap and get unhealthy foods.

Can Community Supported Agriculture Be Affordable?

There are several different option consumers can choose when it comes to community supported agriculture. We used sites like Local Harvest to see what options we had in the Raleigh area. Many of the programs involved prepaying for a share of a harvest with farmers.

What was a downside for us was the big cost upfront involved. Even though it was a fair deal, we were hesitant. We were new at this and wanted to test the waters first before making a huge financial commitment. 

Weekly CSA Deliveries

We looked and found something that sounded promising to us – The Produce Box, which offered weekly payments for produce deliveries directly to your home. The prices were very reasonable and every week we would be given some option with box selection. We signed up last year and were pleasantly surprised at how well it went. At the time the yearly sign up fee was $18 and we paid $22 for our boxes. We could skip our weekly deliveries, which is handy when you’re on vacation or perhaps still working through last deliveries.

To give you an idea of what we get, one week’s deliveries included:

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Cucumbers
  • Vidalia onions
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Spinach

This year the enrollment fee with The Produce Box is $18, but it’s also just $18 for our boxes. With just the 2 of us and the baby, the size is right for us and we have less wasted food.

In addition we signed up for another program, Carolina Grown, to fill our menus. Carolina Grown has a point system that they use for orders. You pay weekly, monthly, or yearly and spend them as you see fit. We’ve used them for a variety of items, like beef value boxes (roasts and ground beef), trout fillets, milk, ice cream, and pizza dough. The monthly total costs for the programs? It’s about $175.

We then use the grocery stores for staples like rice, bread, and coffee creamer (yes, that is a staple for us). It’s saved us a significant amount of money with our food budget, saved time as they are delivered to us weekly, and we get a variety of foods.

 CSA and Your Local Options

How many of you participate in Community Supported Agriculture? How did you get involved? Do you think it’s a practical choice for those on a budget?