Fresh, local, and delicious: The fruits of Community Supported Agriculture


In the past few years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, which allow people to buy a share in a farm’s harvest, have grown significantly on the Island. What begin in the early 60s in Germany, Switzerland, and Japan was introduced to the U.S. in the mid 80s.

Whippoorwill Farm, located at the former Thimble Farm in Oak Bluffs, has made CSA its focus in the recent past. The aim of community supported agriculture is to build a healthy community by providing a local, organic food supply and reestablishing a relationship between the community and the farmer. This increases community involvement in food production and in the health of the local economy and environment.

At Whippoorwill Farm, members pay for their shares at the beginning of the year to help fund the farm. This way, farmers have the money to buy seeds, fix equipment, pay for labor, and other expenses involved with starting up the growing season. The price of the share reflects the revenues needed to cover the expenses of operating the farm for that year and the value of the produce that’s expected to be offered.

In return, members are allowed weekly pickups of fresh and locally grown vegetables, rather than having to buy them at a grocery store, which creates a large carbon footprint.

This year, Whippoorwill Farm offers both small and full shares. A small share consists of enough food (for those who eat vegetables regularly) each week to feed one to two adults, and a full share feeds at least three adults.

Whippoorwill Farm offers three share programs between July 12 and October 11: one five-week small share is $145, and one five-week full share is $225.

Call 508-693-5995 for more information or to sign up, or visit

The FARM Institute (TFI) also offers meat and produce CSAs in one, three, and six-month shares. For produce, you will generally buy enough food to feed two adults who eat a plentiful amount of produce for a week, or four adults eating an average amount of produce. Produce and meat shares are available June through November.

A full season produce share is $600 and monthly shares are $150. CSA vegetables include greens, onions, leeks, radishes, eggplant, squash, peas, watermelon, turnips, garlic, beans, corn, tomatoes, and more. TFI grows non-certified organic produce on eight acres and in two greenhouses, using no chemicals or pesticides.

Meat includes chicken, beef, pork, and lamb. A sample ten-pound share may include two pounds hamburger, one-pound sausage, one-pound breakfast cut (bacon or breakfast sausage), a chicken (about three pound), two pounds of lamb cuts (eight ground, shank, or chop), and either two beef steaks (T-bone, Porterhouse, London Broil, New York, or cube) or two pork chops. If you don’t like lamb or pork, chicken can take its place.

Meat rates vary between a one-month, 10-pound share for $80, to a six month, 20 pound share for $780. All six-month shares include a turkey for Thanksgiving, which valued at $100 in 2009.

All the meat is raised at TFI. Chicken and turkey are processed there, and lamb and beef are grass-fed with a supplement of The FARM’s own hay in the winter. Pork, chicken, and turkey are all pasture-raised and fed locally-milled grains from Taunton. Beef, pork, and lamb are processed at the Adams Farm slaughterhouse in Athol, which is USDA inspected and humane certified.

TFI’s livestock are humanely treated and live in open pastures. Grass-fed meat is higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and nutrients, and is lower in total fat when compared to grain-finished meats.

Shares can be picked up on Tuesdays or Fridays from 3 to 6 pm, and Tuesday pickups are in Chilmark. When signing up, you will pick a day and location to pick up your shares.

And you can buy shares (meat only) if you live on the Cape. For Cape Cod pick-up locations call TFI. To sign up, call 508-627-7007, ext. 103; email, or visit