Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) at the UCSC Farm & Garden

Details of the 2017 CSA Season 

Farm fields

In 2017, our full CSA season begins June 6 (weather permitting) and runs through November 3 (22 weeks). Shares for the full season cost $560.

Early Bird Discount: 5% for signups made by May 1, 2017 

A payment plan and limited-income shares are available (see below); we also accept SNAP Benefits. Members can pick up their share at the UCSC Farm or the Westside Farm & Feed on Swift Street.

A share of produce contains a diverse supply of freshly harvested organic fruits and vegetables throughout the season (roughly 8-13 items per week) and is designed to feed a household of two or three for a week, or a larger family that perhaps doesn't cook every day but still wants to eat fresh, organic and local. 10- and 20-week flower shares are also available.

New this year! 
You can sign up online via the Local Harvest CSA Manager to pay by credit card (debited weekly or for the full year). If you are paying in 2 or 4 installments, or applying for a limited-income share, please use the 2017 Pledge Forms, below. Note that if you are signing up online via Local Harvest by credit card, you don't need to download and fill out a pledge form. You can provide your member information and pick up site/day preference on the Local Harvest site.

You can access the 2017 pledge form here to sign up for the a Full Share or Peak Season CSA. You can access the Limited-Income Pledge Form here and the Limited-Income Application Form here.

"Peak Season" CSA: Starts August 22: Prorated Shares Available through November 3

For those of you who may be away for part of the summer but still want to get in on the Farm's CSA, we'll once again offer an 11-week "Peak Season" share for $280, with pickups beginning August 22 and extending through November 3. Prorated shares are available for those starting after the first Peak Season pickups on August 22 and 25.

For questions or more information about the Center's Farm CSA project, including the Peak Season option and limited-income shares, call (831) 459-3240. You can also email casfs@ucsc.edu, or write to UCSC Farm & Garden CSA, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064.

What people are saying about the UCSC Farm CSA

  • I LOVE the UCSC Farm CSA and tell everyone about it. It's been an overwhelming positive experience for me, and I will most definitely join next year. 
  • Thank you so much for all your efforts! Everything is always delicious and we appreciate all your hard work!
  • Besides making me more adventurous in cooking/eating, the fruits and veggies truly tasted like homegrown organic. What a privilege! 

Field Notes

Each week staff and students produce the Field Notes newsletter, updating CSA members with information about the Farm, recipe suggestions, and more. Explore an archive of Field Notes from past seasons.

Celebrating 22 Years of CSA in 2017!

Staff and apprentices of the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems manage a 30-acre farm and 3-acre garden on the UCSC campus. Each year, staff teach 39 students enrolled in the six-month Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture how to grow and care for a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers.

In 1995 the staff and apprentices began a CSA pilot program with 16 shareholders. It was so successful that in 1996 the project expanded to 60 shares, and has since grown to 130 shareholders. Many of our shareholders are members of the UCSC campus community. The CSA project also serves as a model for local growers, many of whom attend workshops and field days at the Farm or call Center staff for information.

What Is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?

The Community Supported Agriculture model is simple: the farmer sets a price for a share of the year's produce from his/her farm, then recruits a group of participants who purchase a membership in the farm and receive a weekly supply of fresh-picked produce. CSA members have the satisfaction of knowing where their food comes from and the farmer who grows it. The farmer has a guaranteed market in place - often before the growing season begins - coupled with up-front cash from member payments that can eliminate the need to borrow start-up capital. Farmers also benefit by developing a long-term community interest in the viability of their farm. Reconnecting people with the land and the farmers that support them is an important part of Community Supported Agriculture.

More About CSA Projects

The expression of the CSA model can take many forms. Shares are usually designed to feed two to four people at an average price of $10 - $30/week per share, and almost all CSA projects feature organically grown produce. Some farms don't require that shareholders commit to an entire season; instead, they may offer shares on a monthly or quarterly basis. CSA projects either have members pick up their shares at the farm or market garden, or deliver to centralized urban pick-up sites where shareholders drop by for their week's share.

Although the make-up of shares fluctuates based on season and location, most CSA projects offer a mix of 8 to 12 types of vegetables, herbs, and fruits per week. Some CSA growers also buy or barter produce with other farms in order to diversify their own shares. In addition to seasonal produce, some CSA projects offer meat and dairy products, "value-added" products such as cheese and honey, and bread.

Besides receiving a weekly share of produce, CSA members are often invited to take part in life on the farm through events such as workdays and potlucks. Many CSA farmers include a newsletter with the week's share, letting members know what's happening on the farm, what crops to expect in upcoming weeks, and offering recipe ideas.

The CSA model has unlimited potential for connecting consumers directly to the source of their food, and for giving small-scale farmers and market gardeners a viable alternative to other marketing efforts. In the U.S., CSA projects first started on the east coast in the mid-1980s. The idea has spread quickly to the west coast, and today there are an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 consumers throughout the nation who rely on CSA arrangements for the majority of their produce.

The Market Cart

Fresh, organic produce and flowers from the Center's Farm & Garden Market Cart are available in season. Located at the corner of Bay & High streets at the base of the UCSC campus, the Market Cart is open on Tuesday and Friday from 12 noon to 6 pm from early June through October.

See Also