The first time I heard someone mention a CSA, I asked the same thing everyone else does: “What’s that?”
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture–essentially, it’s an opportunity to subscribe to a food producer’s final product, allowing that producer the security of already having money in the bank and buyers waiting. The subscriptions are dispersed at regular intervals, often weekly, in portions referred to as ‘shares.’
Traditionally, as the agriculture portion of the name suggests, most CSA shares consist of fresh produce, sometimes with the occasional meat or cheese product thrown in. CSAs often combine fruits and vegetables from a number of producers, increasing the total variety of crops available in each share. Tucson CSA is a great example of this type of program, offering basic shares sourced from a number of Arizona growers alongside shares of local meat, cheese, and bread. Occasionally, an individual producer will start their own CSA, such as Double Check Ranch‘s program that allows members to save $50 by paying for 10 weeks of meat in advance.
While I continue to adore the community experience of Tucson CSA’s weekly pickups and love any opportunity to save money on free range local beef, I admit to being just a little extra excited about Erik Stanford of Pivot Produce and Linette Antillion of Pueblo Vida Brewing Company‘s latest addition to the CSA scene, called CSA+C (short for CSA+Craft, named for for the artisan foods included with the share). Why am I so excited? Two words: Beer and Coffee.
Antillion and Stanford met about a year ago while working in Tucson’s burgeoning food scene, and the two became fast friends. They dreamed up the idea for CSA+C in light of Stanford’s work with Pivot Produce, his farm-to-table local food distribution company. “We had been toying around with the idea, looking at the different farms and thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if they had beer too?'” Antillion says. “You could get all your local groceries in once run.”
The fleshed-out version of CSA+C involves a lot more than just adding beer to a regular CSA share. Stanford emphasizes the goal is specifically to encourage more engagement in the local food scene. “I like that it’s introducing people who aren’t reading Edible Baja Arizona to seeing what’s grown locally.” One of the best parts of eating locally grown produce, he says, is that it gives people “a window into what seasonal produce is here.” Why eat local with CSA+C? Stanford states, “We want to make it super unique, give people things in their shares they might not otherwise buy.” Antillion agrees.
To that end, shares from CSA+C will feature 100% locally grown and produced foods: fruits and vegetables from Maggie’s Farm Aquaponics, Sonoran Hydroponics, Breckenfeld Family Growers, Dreamflower Garden, and Arid Acres Homestead, goat’s milk cheeses from Fiore di Capra, eggs from Arid Acres Homestead, bread from Small Planet Bakery, beer from Pueblo Vida Brewing, and coffee from a rotating selection of local roasters, starting with Yellow Brick Coffee. As the CSA+C program grows, Antillion and Stanford anticipate adding more producers, eventually expanding to offer a baseline CSA share with customization options, including the addition of local meat, chocolate, and more.
Shares will be picked up weekly on Mondays from 4:00pm until 10:00pm at Pueblo Vida Brewing’s taproom, located at 115 E. Broadway Blvd. in Tucson. Shares are available for 6 week runs, with 12 of the 25 total shares for CSA+C’s first run still available for purchase as of press time. One share from CSA+C is valued at $60, with CSA+C members paying the full 6 week subscription cost ($360) in advance.
What does $60 get you in local produce, eggs, bread, coffee, and beer? Check out the breakdown of the first week’s share:
Beer: Two 750 ml Growlers from Pueblo Vida Brewery
Eggs: One Dozen Local Farm Fresh Eggs
Cheese: 6oz Fiore Di Capra Goat Cheese
Bread: One Loaf Bread Small Planet Bakery
Coffee: 4oz Bag Yellow Brick Coffee
Vegetables: 4 to 6 varied Local Vegetables from Pivot Produce (depends on availability; cucumbers, a selection of herbs, and greens grown aquaponically will be regular additions to the seasonal produce)
In addition to the food inside each share, Stanford adds that there will be a pamphlet detailing the origins and introducing the producers of the various items. Connecting CSA+C members with the people who produce their food is key: Antillion says that every Monday during pickup hours, Pueblo Vida Brewing will host a meet and greet with participating vendors, allowing producers the opportunity to get in front of new customers, sell the wares that might not have made it into the CSA share, and make a personal connection with their customers. And if the face-to-face contact and one-stop experience wasn’t enough to tempt customers, members of the CSA+C also get access to day-early releases of Pueblo Vida’s beer infusions (the watermelon infusion that was brewing on the day we met was positively mouthwatering).
Those looking to join this first round of CSA+C must have their shares purchased no later than Sunday, August 14. The following evening, Monday, August 15, CSA+C’s first pickup will happen at Pueblo Vida Brewing Company from 4:00pm-10:00pm. Shares can be purchased on Pueblo Vida Brewing Company’s website.