Unlike Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), which (usually) requires an upfront fee of a couple hundred dollars for 20 weeks of food, farm boxes are a pay-as-you-go weekly subscription that doesn’t have to be from one particular farm, though sometimes they are, and subscriptions can be stopped at any time.
When I lived in Phoenix, I subscribed to the Sunizona Family Farms box (though there are several in the area). The prices for different-sized boxes were $15 for a petite box (for up to two people), $22 for a small box (up to four people) and $30 for a large box (up to six people). The standard box’s contents varied based on availability and season, but custom boxes were offered as well if there was something someone was specifically craving.
What’s In the Box?
Currently, the farm box I subscribe to is through Door-to-Door Organics in the Chicago area. Like the Sunizona farm box, Door-to-Door offers a variety of boxes in order to meet your families’ specific needs. The bitty box starts at $26.99, the small box at $35.99 and so on. Deliveries are either weekly or every two weeks, can be put on hold if you go out of town and you can chose your delivery days. In addition to produce, Door-to-Door has other products such as baked goods, meat and fish. You can also find non-GMO and local foods through their website, too.
A recent box I received contained two avocados ($3 each), lettuce ($3), kale ($3), a zucchini squash ($3), a green bell pepper ($3), a yellow squash ($3), a red bell pepper ($3) and three bananas ($3). Note: Prices aren’t listed individually, so I divided $27.60 by each type of item. Each avocado was listed separately in the order.
Curious, I went to my local Whole Foods to compare prices. Avocados were four for $5 (on sale), lettuce was $2.99, kale was $2.99, zucchini and squash were each $1.99 per pound, green bell peppers were $1.79 per pound, red bell peppers were $1.49 per pound and bananas were .77 cents per pound. Although the grocery-store produce was less expensive, the items weren’t necessarily local like five of my farm-box items were. Plus, farm boxes don’t charge for delivery, so you’re saving on gas and time.
Other Things to Consider:
• You should be prepared to cook at home more in order to use all your veggies. Start with a box that is smaller than you think you’ll need to test whether you actually can finish the produce before the next box arrives.
• Consider whether you want a standard box or customizable one. A standard box might bring you veggies you aren’t familiar with and might not know what to do with — for the adventurous home chef!
• You’ll likely still have to go to the grocery store to get things not available in a farm box, or you might select a company that offers more than produce.
• There are often incentives to signing up, like receiving $10 off your first box, or even getting one free.
If you’d like to add more fresh produce to your meals, search for farm-box subscriptions in your area, or at sites like Serious Eats, which provides a run-down of the various services provided by state.