Central Michigan CSA Program
The Central Michigan CSA is a vibrant multi-location farm co-op we operate from our family farm in Clare Michigan. (pick-up locations listed below) We’ve been growing chemical free food for families throughout Mid Michigan for four years via the CSA program. We also operate two open air farm stands in the Mid Michigan area. My name is Joe Crawford and I’m the owner/farmer for the Central Michigan CSA. We are currently enrolling NEW members for the 2014 CSA membership and I’m glad you’re looking into our farm and our food. We’ve worked hard each year to create more value and improve our CSA, making it one of the best ways to get healthy high quality fruits and vegetables in Michigan. I appreciate the chance to grow your families food and look forward to answering any questions you may have. You can send me a note, call or email me directly, here is my contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Phone (cell) 989-284-8251 Call anytime between 7:00 am and 9:00 pm
If you are here to sign up and become a member, you’ll find the membership form nearer the bottom of this page.
I should mention, we have a CSA Farm Newsletter and I encourage you to sign up for that. You can find the Newsletter form on the Home page of this website and at the VERY bottom of this page. You will receive farm updates, recipes, preserving ideas, specials, and more via the Newsletter so sign up.
Membership is in full swing for this years CSA program and we have welcomed a bunch of new members already. If you’ve never participated in a CSA or “farm co-op” learn more about how a CSA works by reading through this page, and learn more about our vegetable farm on the Farm page. I’m also more than happy to discuss our growing methods and philosophy in person or over the phone. Our Mid Michigan CSA program is moving into it’s 4th year. It has more than doubled each year and we will have around 150 shares available in 2014 for families in the central Michigan area. 2014 CSA Pick-Up locations will include: (I’m open to additional locations)
- Midland Michigan at the farmers market by the Tridge on Wednesdays between 7 am and 12pm
- Mt. Pleasant Michigan at the farmers market in Island park on Thursdays between 7am and 1pm
- Gladwin Michigan at the farmers market behind the Historic Village on Saturdays between 8 am and 1pm
- Clare Michigan at our farm stand on old U.S. 27 1/2 North of the speedway on the way to Jay’s Sporting Goods
Based on previous years, we usually start weekly share pick-ups late in May or early in June. I will have a pretty accurate date by may when the first crops blossom. I go through the membership and call everyone in May to confirm contact details and pick up location details. Our CSA program is designed for 18-20 weeks and runs into or thru October. We had our first annual Harvest Party/Farm Day last year and look forward to doing it again, it was lots of fun!
Our CSA Farm in Mid Michigan
Our CSA program is supplied from food grown on our farm which is 1/2 mile from the Isabella county line and a few miles from midland county. The farm is located straight east of Clare Michigan. It is an 120 acre family farm and for years, was a cow/calf beef operation, a hobby farm really. At the peak we had about 30 cows and raised their calves that were later sold as feeder steers (400 lbs.). While our family has always raised our own vegetables, fruit, honey, maple syrup, beef, pork and poultry, I’m the first in the family to offer it to others as a service.
The Central Michigan CSA program is an extension of the same philosophy I grew up with here at the farm only on a larger scale. We grow our own food, eat it fresh, and can or freeze the surplus to enjoy all winter long. You can do the same as a CSA member. In order to make our program one of the best CSA’s in Michigan we also provide fresh picked fruits from local orchards and berry patches and also include honey, maple syrup and fresh flowers which we produce on our farm. Learn more about the Premium CSA share’s below to decide which share is right for your family.
My Dad has since sold the beef cattle except for a few for butchering and that has left over 60 acres of pasture available on the 120 acre farm that lays along the Tobacco River in Sheridan Township. I have adopted a farming system that allows us to produce chemical free fruits and vegetables. (I’ve posted a few pictures of that “system” below) CSA farming is really about limiting risk of pest and disease pressure and growing in a way that eliminates the need for sprays. I install raised mulched beds with drip line irrigation installed beneath and use intensive cover cropping for weed control and soil health. Soil borne fungal diseases are greatly reduced because plants stay dry and are watered at the roots. Cover crops between rows is intended to keep rain from splashing plants with dirt from the ground. The result is clean veggies that are healthy enough to fight off pest and disease pressure on their own. Our crops are NOT subject to the risk of drought.
We grow several Heirloom vegetable varieties, we don’t grow any GMO varieties and select varieties based on taste. We know the best way to continue to build a successful CSA farm is to let our food do the marketing for us. We grow great tasting food!
How Big is Your Garden?
In 2014 we will have around 15 acres of ground into vegetable production. 10 acres +/- will be Certified Organic and be used exclusively for certified organic vegetables, much of which you will find in your weekly CSA shares. The remaining 5 acres is currently in transition to organic, we use the same organic practices on this field, we just need to document that for another year or so.
Growing vegetables requires water, lots of water, so I looked for ways to minimize the quanity of water need to grow good food. We have three farm ponds that total about 4 acres and they have nutrient rich water that we’ve used to irrigate our gardens for over 20 years. We pump the water into a 1,000 tank and haul it up to the produce field to water. I install mulch over raised beds and gravity fed drip lines beneath it to water the plants, this greatly conserves water, diesel fuel, and time. Another benefit of water at the ground level is that the plants aren’t constantly wet which promotes disease like fungal blights and other problems. During research before I started the Central Michigan CSA I found several programs that failed and learned why. In all three cases it was drought. So basically the farmer had a complete crop loss and the members didn’t get their food! Not sure what happened to their money… My point is that I’ve taken steps and made investments so crop loss is highly unlikely. Drought, for instance, is of no concern on our farm. We also use methods that naturally ward off blights and other devastating disease.
What is a CSA?
In case your wondering CSA stands for “community supported agriculture” and is a term typically used to describe an agreement between a grower or growers and consumers. Essentially you subscribe, buy in, or express interest in a CSA and this entitles you to pre-agreed amounts of produce. Many times the CSA will offer shares and half shares. These shares cost a set amount of money and are typically paid early in the growing season. The cost varies on what is offered and the length of the season. Some CSA’s offer specialty shares which can include things like flowers, honey, meats and eggs while some include these things in their normal share price. Most successful Michigan CSA’s I’ve seen design the full share to feed a family of four, and a 1/2 share obviously is more in line for two people.
Community supported agriculture programs have gained more interest over the past few years and they are becoming a popular way to get the freshest produce direct from the farmer and plus it help farmers. Many CSA’s offer multiple drop off points making it more convenient for customers to pick up their food. These drop off points can include farm markets, the CSA farm, or even delivery.
Central Michigan CSA Program Details
Well, that’s a little about our CSA farm here in Mid Michigan, now I’ll share some of the details of the CSA program and how you can become a member of our CSA program. In summary, we offer an 18-20 week CSA program and weekly pick-ups start in late May or early June. Pick ups run into October.
For convenience to our members we expanded our pick up window a few years back, we are available from 7:00 am until after noon, depending on the pick up location. Locations are listed on the membership form below, feel free to email me with additional pick up locations.
How much produce do we receive in our CSA share?
You have the option of grabbing pre packaged 1/2 bushel baskets or putting your own together. Full share members receive a full bushel of produce packaged in two 1/2 bushel baskets. This makes it easier to carry as a 1/2 bushel weighs around 25 lbs. If you purchase a 1/2 share you will receive a 1/2 bushel basket of produce each week. Keep in mind that much of the season will include much more than your 1/2 bushels because things like sweet corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, cabbage, and some squash are pretty bulky and are carried separately. NOTE: Members are pleasantly surprised by the quantity of produce they receive. We have intentionally designed our CSA program to be about VALUE rather than novelty. The photo to the right is a 1/2 premium share in week 12 of 2013 season.
What if we have to miss a week or two?
It’s quite common for members to have to miss pick ups due to various reasons, summer travel being the most common. You have several options to address this. Some people just have a friend pick up their share, some choose to not get their share that week and double up the following week. Others, who like to can or freeze veggies, just get more of an item they want to can or freeze.
How and when do we pay for our share?
Most people pay for their CSA farm share with a Check or use a debit or credit card. Information for paying with check is located On the top of the membership form below. We use Pay Pal for paying with a Card online, my Pay Pal email and a link to pay pal is also located below. Our membership sign up usually opens in January and ends when we get full or once drop offs start.
We try to grow most everything that CAN grow here in central Michigan. I’m always up to try something new, if you have an uncommon vegetable you really like, let me know! Here are some of the fruits and vegetables we grow each year and include in your weekly shares: ( these are somewhat in order of harvest sequence)
Asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, sugar snap peas, lettuce, spinach, kale, leeks, green beans, yellow summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickling pickles, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bell peppers, misc. hot peppers, egg plant, cherry tomatoes, lima beans, sweet corn, winter squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, onions, potatoes, several herbs (basil, cilantro, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, etc.), apples, garlic, swiss chard, kohlrabi, pumpkins, and more ( we grow several varieties of each of these items)
In addition to these vegetables we also offer most all the fruits grown here in Michigan through our Premium Share options. Here are some of the most popular fruits you will find in your weekly share depending on which ones are in season at the time:
Strawberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches, apricots, plumbs, apples, raspberries…
What Our CSA Members Are Saying
We put out an Anonymous survey at the end of the season to get member feed back and hopefully suggestions to further improve the CSA experience. We ask them on a scale of 1-10 how they would rate their experience, 1 being horrible 10 being awesome. Our average has held between 9.25 and 9.8 for the last couple years. We ask what they liked and what they would change. Here are some of the things that members liked enough to mention:
- Fresh Eggs, Fresh Fruits were excellent this year, and we love your candy onions.
- Fresh veggies, length of season, very friendly farmer and family.
- Quality of the produce, ease of pickup, the fact that you can exchange items in your basket.
- Quality of the produce, ease of pickup, the fact that you can exchange items in your basket
- Availability, freshness, friendliness
- Friendly staff, knowledgeable staff, value & quality goods
- Great fruits and vegetables, friendly, close by in Midland for pickup
- Produce was good quality, there were items I would not buy normally and were included that allowed me to try new things, I enjoyed seeing the employees (all of them)
- All of the varieties, the flexibility with getting to choose to get a basket for making salsa instead of a regular basket, how flexible you guys were about pick up.
- Convenient pickup in Gladwin, friendly people and the great variety of produce (heirloom tomatoes to die for)
In our year end survey we also ask members what they disliked or what they would like to see changed. Here are some of the responses we received this from our CSA members from that part of the survey: ( we had a wet spring and mud problem at our Clare farm stand which is the pick up location for Clare members)
- Driveway in Clare.
- Driveway and parking area in Clare was too muddy.
- Communication, need more greens, more chili peppers.
- Rutted drive by the road!, 1/2 market share is too much for one person, would like 1/4 market share.
- Don’t care for turban squash, too much egg plant, not enough zucchini and spinach or salad greens.
- Too much zucchini & watermelon.
- You need to keep a stack of cards handy. I kept asking for them so I could give them to friends. I recommend your CSA to practically everyone I meet.
- Having more bulk buying options would be nice-onions, potatoes, carrots, items that store well over the cold months.
- Always changing location at farmers market in Midland.
It is my goal to continually improve the Central Michigan CSA, it’s my job. Feedback from our members is the key to making it better each year. I’ve found it easy to implement most suggestions we get from members and encourage members to always let me know if they see something that can improve our farm share program.
(Summary of our CSA Share options are below)
Originally we started with Two share options, now we have a few more. You’ll read about the “Market Style” share and that is a share for our loyal customers who come to our open air farm stands in Clare or on U.S. 10 and 66. (the regular CSA share options are below). In this case you buy a share and are credited with market dollars which works out to about a 25% savings on anything you buy at one of our Markets. It works like this: The prices for the market shares are $300 or $500 and when you purchase on you save 25% via a credit up front. Buy a 1/2 market share for $300 and you’ll start with $375.00. Buy a full market share for $500 and you’ll start the season with $625.00. With the market share you get credits and can spend them anyway you’d like when you shop at the market. Here are some of the surrounding areas that might be interested in the market share:
Note: You are free to purchase a regular CSA share and pick up at our farm market, many do.
- Mt. Pleasant Michigan
- Alma Michigan
- Harrison Michigan
- Clare Michigan
- Farwell Michigan
- Lake Michigan
- Midland Michigan
Become a Member and Purchase a 2014 CSA Share Online
Ready to become a member? Great, I’ll help you do that right now. Choose the share option you want and fill out the membership form Below and HIT SUBMIT. I’ve listed the Share Options for the 2014 CSA program below. ~ If you love fresh fruit, check out the premium share options.
2014 CSA Share Options and Details
18-20 Week CSA Full Share
I recommend the full share if you’re feeding 4-6 people who like vegetables and fruit. Each week you will receive a Bushel of produce. You will use two 1/2 bushel baskets for your share because it’s easier to carry that way. The regular full share will consist of a large variety of vegetables, melons and herbs. You’ll receive a good number of watermelons and cantaloupe, we grow several different varieties. If you like a lot of fruit, consider the premium share, it’s worth it. You’ll also find a few different herbs that we grow each week. Our goal is 20 weeks and for the last 4 years this has not been a problem. We look to start around the third week in May. Cost is $535.00 (figures out to $26.70 Per Week) * as a member you will get a 25% discount on fruit and other specialty items you may want to purchase.
18-20 Week Half Share
The half share is better suited for feeding 2-3 people and is about 1/2 the quantity of a full share. You’ll find the same items in the 1/2 share as the full share only in smaller quantities. Each week you will get 1/2 bushel of veggies along with melons and sweet corn. Cost is $325.00 (Figures out to $16.25 Per Week)
18-20 Week 1/4 Share
This share is for one person, it’s like the other regular shares just with less quantity. We try to keep it around a Peck, or a 1/2 of a half bushel. Cost is $200.00 (figures out to $10.00 per week)
Premium Shares Include Fruit along with the Vegetables You’ll Get Every Week!
Some of the Fruits include: Strawberries, blueberries, cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, apples, watermelons and cantaloupe. You wont receive as much fruit as vegetables. The cost is around $200 for the season so realize that is about $10 worth of fruit every week. NOTE: being a CSA member will entitle you to a 25% discount on any extra fruit you would like to purchase form us!
18-20 Week Full Premium Share
The full premium share should feed 4-6 people and we really go over board on this one. You’ll receive a full Bushel of vegetables each week, packaged in two 1/2 bushel baskets. You can expect lots of fresh picked vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn, onions, zucchini squash, summer squash, asparagus, and much much more. The premium share is big on fruit too. Instead of getting one fruit each week like the regular share, you get what ever is in season. So in late June you could be getting strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and maybe even cantaloupe too all in the same basket. The fruit starts with strawberries in June and ends with apples in the fall. The premium CSA share also includes maple syrup, herbs, a variety of fall decor, pumpkins for Halloween, and you even have the option of getting a hardy Michigan Mum to add some color to your front porch in the fall. The Cost is $745.00 (Figures to 37.25 Per Week)
18-20 Week Premium 1/2 Share **
This was our most popular share Last Year, it’s a great value and variety… You’ll get everything in the regular 1/2 share PLUS all the in season fruits as the become available for harvest. Here are some of the fruits you can expect: Strawberries, peaches, blueberries, cherries, apples, plums, and melons of assorted variety. The premium shares also include fresh maple syrup, homemade Jams, and honey. The cost for the Premium half share is $485.oo (figures out to $24.25 per week)
The Market Style Share
The Market Style Share is for those of you who love shopping at the Market here in Clare. There is a Full and Half Market Style share and the cost is the same as a traditional CSA share. You’ll save around 25% with the Market share. The Cost for the Market style 1/2 share is $300. When you pay $300.00 you’ll get $375 in market credits. The full market share cost is $500.00 and you will start with $625.00 which is a 25% savings.
How To Sigh Up For the Central Michigan CSA~ Become a Member Today
Ready to become a member of our CSA? I appreciate the opportunity to grow your families food this year and I think you’ll love our produce. Here is how to sign up and become a member:
- Fill out the Membership form Below ( hit the SUBMIT button when done) and Send Payment or Use Pay Pal. (Payment info for checks is at top of form below)
- Then visit the Home Page and sign up for Our CSA Newsletter if you haven’t already.
- Then LIKE our Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/MichiganCsaFarm
Feel free to call me if you have questions or just to introduce yourself. I go through the list of new membership sign ups each week or two and call each member. Then in early May I call everyone again and let you know when it looks like pick-ups will start. I’m guessing the 3rd week of May will be the first pick up this year, but I’ll be able to give a better idea once we get our spring. Talk soon!
Thank you for the opportunity to grow your families food this year! If you have any questions about the Central Michigan CSA please get in touch. If you have another Mid Michigan CSA pick up location you would like to request, I’d be happy to consider it.