Our Food CSA is full for 2013. We do appreciate your interest in the farm! Here's some helpful questions to ask before joining another local CSA.
We've been farming since 2004 and our CSAs have been in operation since November 2006. We have both a Food & a Flower CSA. If you'd like to learn more about how our CSA's work, please read our FAQs below.
CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture”. While there are many different definitions, here are some that best represent what we are trying to do:
Defining Community Supported Agriculture - links to a USDA-excerpted publication.
From www.sustainableag.net/glossary_a-d.htm (no longer online): A nationwide movement linking local consumers and farmers into communities. Typical CSA's consist of a group of consumer shareholders that pay a sum in advance in exchange for a regular selection (weekly, biweekly) of in-season crops produced by a farm.
From http://www.liveearthfarm.com (no longer online) : CSA creates a direct relationship between you and our farm – a partnership, if you will. In essence, it is a mutually beneficial arrangement, where in exchange for your commitment to buy a share in our farm's harvest, we commit to grow exceptionally high quality vegetables and herbs, and deliver a bountiful portion of it to you every week of the subscription term. Become a member of our CSA program and every week throughout the subscription term you will receive a share of fresh, naturally grown, in-season produce and herbs.
As a farm that runs a CSA, we often hear people call CSA a food co-op and vice versa. But, there is a big difference between CSA & a food co-op. So we like to try to help clarify whenever we see the two terms confused as part of our ongoing effort to educate about what a CSA is. A few key differences are:
- CSA is about connecting directly with the farm(s) and farmers who are growing your food, hence 'Community Supported Agriculture'. Food co-ops introduce one or more middlemen between you & the farm. Your food is usually sourced from wholesale distribution and your connection to the farm is pretty much the same as it is when you buy from a grocery store.
- In a CSA you know your farmer(s) personally. In a Food co-op, you most likely never meet the people who grow your food, nor do you get to visit the farm.
- CSA is about supporting your local food grower & local economy who gets the entire dollar amount you spend on the food. Food co-ops usually buy through wholesale distribution same as a grocery store where the farm only receives a portion of the money you spend on the food.
- CSA implies risk - that is farm disaster, crop failure may impact your share delivery. You don't get this with a food co-op because of the nationwide/worldwide food sourcing, much like buying your produce from a grocery store.
- CSA foods are seasonal & grown locally; not so with food co-ops in general.
There is nothing wrong with food co-ops; in fact, they can be a good way to source additional produce for your family. However, we hope you understand now that they are not at all the same as a CSA, and those that call their co-ops CSA's can give a bad impression about real CSA's. For instance, you might hear of a (supposed) “CSA” that is signing people up and delivering bushels of produce every week when Barking Cat Farm's CSA is suspended due to the drought conditions making it impossible to grow anything. You might reasonably wonder why this other “CSA” is able to provide food while BCF cannot. Unless that other “CSA” farm is growing in greenhouses or has spent a lot of time and energy drought-proofing their farm, they are likely not actually growing most of their food but rather buying it from distribution. In our opinion, this is dishonest. And that sort of operation is more accurately called a food co-op or buying club, not a CSA where the subscriber knows the farmer who actually grew the food.
Local sourcing for food co-ops is very difficult in this area because there are not enough farmers to support the demand and selling into wholesale distribution is generally not profitable for small farms. If your food co-op says they try to source locally, ask who the farms are if supporting local farmers is important to you.
How do I know if joining a CSA is right for me? I don't want to pay all that money and then be disappointed.
It is a fact that the CSA model is not for everybody. Now that we've been doing this for a while, our experience has been that most of our customers really like the CSA concept, but it is not for everybody.
With respect to the Food CSA, you probably ARE a good candidate if, in addition to desiring natural, locally grown, farm-fresh food, you possess one or more of the following characteristics:
- you and your family have the time to cook and like cooking and preparing meals or dishes from scratch;
- you and your family like to cook and are willing to experiment with new ingredients and recipes;
- you are okay with occasionally getting something in your box of which you aren't particularly fond (please see this FAQ answer);
- you are willing to eat seasonally because a CSA usually cannot provide a grocery store selection of produce. For example, there will be no tomatoes in January!
- your schedule permits you to regularly make the drop-off time and location.
You are probably NOT a good Food CSA candidate if:
- there are more than one or two vegetables and/or herbs that you and your family do not like;
- you and your family like fresh food but do not have the time to prepare it;
- you and your family do not like "surprises", i.e., to experiment with foods you have not ever eaten;
- you are not willing to be creative when your box contains something you do not like (again, please see this FAQ answer);
- you know in advance that your schedule is such that you cannot regularly make the drop-off time and location.
Whether the CSA model is or is not right for you, we encourage you to come meet us and buy off the truck!
With respect to the Flower CSA, you are probably a good candidate if fresh, pretty flowers bring you and your family joy and you like regularly having them around! You might be surprised at the calming, uplifting power of a colorful, fragrant bouquet!
Our 2012 Food CSA share price is $20/week with a 12 week term. That means the total cost for the term is $240. We also offer egg shares when they are available. Egg shares are $3.75/week or $45 for the term. We have multiple terms during the year. Egg share are only available to Food CSA members. Additionally, Bee Charmer Raw Honey and extra cartons of eggs are available for purchase at the drop location each week.
25% of your CSA payment is non-refundable. Many traditional CSA's don't refund or carry over balances from one year to the next. After the record setting heat & drought of 2011, our CSA members urged us to allow them to assume more risk in the farm. We're beginning with a 25% risk. In the event of weather or other acts of God that prevent us from completing a CSA term in a timely manner, 25% of the CSA share payment will be deducted from member accounts. In previous years, we rolled the entire credit balance forward. We will continue to be transparent and act with integrity in all such instances.
We do not do half shares at this time.
Our current subscription term is 12 weeks. We send out renewals to CSA members near the end of each 12 week term.
You will receive your share bi-weekly. We may occasionally be closed for Holidays or weather events, but we'll announce that as needed. We are working towards year round production for the CSA. However, there are certain times of the year when crop production naturally slows down. During those times, we will suspend the current term. We'll keep you up to date via email on the status of the CSA.
The contents of your Food or Flower CSA share will vary by season, by time of the year, and by what the weather is doing at the time. Our crops are all naturally grown. We don't use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. We grow using only organic & sustainable methods. And we never knowingly use genetically modified seed. We believe in growing crops in season because they are of better quality, taste better, look prettier, last longer and allow us to properly tend the farm in a sustainable fashion.
We do plan our crops based primarily on what you tell us you like. This is part of what owning a subscription share means. Your input is balanced with what will grow well in our area.
The volume of food you receive for a food share will vary weekly in accordance with the season. With our current box size, you can expect to receive 4 to 6 different types of vegetables and herbs each week. The volume will be higher in the prime part of the season when the plants are better established than, for instance, in the beginning of the season when the plants are just beginning to produce. We will offer larger weekly volume subscription shares for future subscription terms as we gain CSA experience.
Your flower CSA share will consist of a seasonally changing bouquet of beautiful flowers. The value of your bouquet will be at least 10% more than your weekly subscription cost.
We are always trying to grow new & interesting crops, and sometimes we will have crop failures, a fact of life with farming. We will, however, do our best to grow the freshest, naturally grown crops possible as outlined in our seasonal plan.
Even though our crop plan is based largely on what you tell us you want, since we all have different tastes, no doubt you will get something at one time or another for which you do not care. We cannot do substitutions ahead of time. However, we will bring extras to the delivery points each week as availability permits. You will have the opportunity to swap with us or with each other for something you like better, on a first-come, first-served basis. Barring that, if you cannot find a friend, neighbor, or charitable organization who can use it, give it back to us and we will donate it to Rockwall Helping Hands.
We will bring as much extra as we have to sell to the drop spot as possible. Occasionally we will bring additional food to the drop for you to choose from as an “extra bonus” to your share if you want it. This will be available at no extra charge to our subscribers.
For example, you might receive a bunch of radishes in your share. During the weeks when the radishes are producing heavily, we will bring extra bunches and give you the option of taking a certain amount of extra radishes at no extra charge.
All of the CSA food and flower crops are grown at Barking Cat Farm; we are not a multi-farm CSA. Occasionally,when we find other local growers that produce a premium product and are committed to being good stewards of the land as we are, you bet we will use their products whenever it makes sense. There are not that many of us in the area and naturally grown food is in high demand. We want you to have the opportunity to support them as we do. We will clearly delineate when something comes from another grower or producer, and we will give you as much information about them as we can so that you can feel good about their products and so that you can buy directly from them if you so desire.
Please see Our Friends page for more information about our cooperating producers.
The CSA drop is in Rockwall on announced Friday afternoons in the parking lot at The Life House in downtown Rockwall. CSA members are notified via email when there will be a CSA drop. When we have extras to sell off the truck, we'll announce the CSA drop on the front page of our website.
The drop-off starts at 2:00 PM. We start selling off the truck at 2:00 PM as well. If you are interested in buying off the truck, please do check to be sure that the CSA drop is open first. We recommend arriving closer to 2 PM if you want to buy additional food or eggs off the truck. Please call us if you are running late so that we don't sell your CSA share off the truck.
The Life House is located at 506 N. Goliad just North of the downtown square in Rockwall. To get there, proceed North on Goliad through downtown, past the historic courthouse. The right-hand lane ends just after the square, so merge to the middle lane. You'll see the tree that has been 'yarn bombed' in their front yard as well as their sign on the right-hand side of the road at the same point as the two lanes of Goliad narrow to one going Northbound. The next part is very important, be sure as you turn in, to endeavor to drive on the driveway closest to The Life House. The other pavement is the neighbor's and we need to avoid driving on it. Parking is in the rear. You can also park in downtown public parking and walk, however, there is not a sidewalk all the way to The Life House.
I cannot be at the Friday afternoon Rockwall CSA drop-off to buy from you or to pick up my CSA share, can we make other arrangements?
Unfortunately, no. We will likely offer other drop-off locations and times as we grow, but right now we have just the one drop-off on Friday afternoon. Sorry, we cannot make exceptions because we simply do not have enough available storage or labor.
If you know in advance you are going to be unable to pick up your share a certain week, for instance you are out of town that week, please let us know that via email or phone no later than Tuesday at 5:00 PM on the week. In such cases, you have 3 options. You can arrange for somebody else to pick up your share, you can ask us to donate it to Rockwall Helping Hands, or you can ask us to just cancel your share delivery.
During each 12 week term, each CSA subscriber may cancel their share twice at no charge. We really do encourage you to find someone to pick up your share for you instead. After you have cancelled twice during a term, you may cancel additional deliveries, but you share balance will be charged as if you had received the share.
Since our crops are highly perishable, we cannot hold your share after the drop off. If you miss picking up your share during the scheduled drop time, we cannot credit your account or replace your missed share. If you have not called us or arrived at the drop by 2:30 PM we will begin to try to sell your share off the truck. Otherwise, we will donate any shares that are not picked up to Rockwall Helping Hands so the share does not go to waste. You will be charged for the share.
Currently we allow both cancellations & partial refunds. However, most traditional CSA's do not allow either because the CSA funds are used to grow the crops for the season and are already spent by the time the term starts.
We hope that you will find our crops and the whole CSA experience to be so enjoyable that you will not want to cancel. And if you find yourself unhappy with the CSA for any reason, we respectfully ask that you call or email us and give us the chance to address your concerns before you make your final decision.
However, if in the end you still wish to cancel your subscription, we will refund the prorated remainder of your unused share less 25% of the initial payment. In this case, please notify us no later than Tuesday at 5:00 PM on the week you wish to cancel in order for the refund to cover that week. Otherwise, you will receive prorated credit for the remainder of the term beginning the next week.
The CSAs are full at this time. For now, we are no longer accepting waiting list applications. If you have previously turned in a waiting list form and received an acknowlegement from us, you are on the waiting list. Please keep your email address up to date with us since we will notify you via email when it is your turn to join to the CSA. As CSA shares become available, we will be contacting people on the waiting list in the order in which we received their completed waiting list form. You are under no obligation to join at that time.
We are focused on expanding our production in a sustainable manner as quickly as we can without compromising quality. Until then, we encourage you to sign up for the email list in order to receive CSA and general farm news. As we learn of new farms or CSA's in the area, we'll announce them in our weekly update. You can unsubscribe from the mailing list at any time, and we do not share any of your information with anybody else.
Prior to the end of the current subscription term, we will publish specifics for the next CSA term to our CSA subscribers. Current subscribers will be given first option to renew their subscription for the next term. Then people on the waiting list will be contacted and given the opportunity to subscribe if shares are available.
We do not have a work requirement. However, we encourage CSA members to visit the farm and lend a hand whenever they are able. We want you to see where and how your food is grown. And we're very proud of the farm, we'd love for you to visit!
The waiting list for the Food CSA is very long. We appreciate your support, enthusiasm and patience. We are growing as quickly as we can without sacrificing sustainability and the quality of the food we grow.
Our Food CSA operates nearly year round. As we are able, we add shares when a new term starts. Please see this other answer for more information.
Due to our current size and production volume, we are not be able to do additional drops other than the Rockwall drop. However, as we continue to grow, we will be adding drop locations.
In order to keep current with the status of the farm and any additions to the CSA drop sites, please join our mailing list for news and announcements. You can unsubscribe from the mailing list at any time, and we do not share any of your information with anybody else.
Why does Barking Cat Farm use a CSA model, why can't I just order what I want? Why don't you attend a Farmers Market?
Because we are a small farm with few employees, we are always exploring ways to work more efficiently so that we can better serve our customers. We decided in October of 2006 to switch from a pre-order business to the CSA model. We've found that the CSA approach allows us to spend less time and effort on administrative tedium and more effort planning and growing the best quality, freshest food and flowers you can get!
As we continue to grow, we will look at better ways to serve you. We may eventually even think the pre-order method is worth revisiting. And we always welcome your thoughts, suggestions, and feedback.
We do not attend Farmers Markets at this time because we are sold out by the weekend every week.
Yes, we will bring extra flowers, produce, eggs, and honey to the CSA drops to sell, first come first served. But we are not able to take pre-orders.
As with the term CSA itself, this term means many different things to many people. There is no universal definition, but here is a good legal one. Our basic definition is to reduce the need to bring in outside materials to the farm while taking care of the environment (soil, air, water, creatures). We do this in a lot of ways. Examples include good soil management (cover cropping, green manures, no or low till), natural pest control (integrated pest management such as the use of bats and beneficial insects and our fingers to control the pest population, targeted organic pesticides only when necessary), and good water management (drip irrigation, use of rain water). Our goal is a lofty 100% sustainability, and we are working to achieve that.
We listen to you when making crop decisions! We periodically conduct surveys to gauge interest in various crops that do well here. In the meantime, if you have a suggestion, we want to hear it. Please email us and let us know your thoughts.
We believe in supporting our fellow farmers. We've spent a lot of time & thought writing these FAQs since 2006. If you send us an email (see our Contact Us page), we'll be happy to talk with you about giving you permission to use these for your farm. Copying our FAQs without prior permission is just plain stealing, so please, ask first.