From Soil to City


1. What does CSA stand for?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Local Roots NYC partners with 15 sustainable and organic farmers and food producers to offer diverse, affordable local vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, cheese, eggs, milk and more through 12-week CSA shares.

2. Is everything organic in the CSA?

Our growers and producers all practice different sustainability measures specific to their farms and surroundings.

Our vegetables are either Certified Naturally Grown, a grassroots alternative to the USDA’s National Organic Program (Taproot Farm), or Organic (Norwich Meadows Farm). While the standards and the labels are the same – organic – the USDA Organic Program favors medium to big-sized farmers, and the Certified Naturally Grown program is better suited for small farmers. The Certified Naturally Grown label was created in 2002 in response to the USDA labeling, which is expensive in terms of time (paperwork per crop) and application fees. The Certified Naturally Grown program has farmers review fellow CNG farmers and prioritizes the exchange of feedback and ideas for growth.

Check out our Farm page for more information about each producer with whom we work.

3. What is the difference between going to the farmers market and getting a CSA?

While both farmers markets and CSAs are both great places where you can find local food, the CSA model is advantageous to the farmer and to you! Here’s why: small-scale sustainable farmers are inherently at a disadvantage in our food system which favors large, conventional growers. At the farmers’ market, a customer chooses an item and there is a direct financial interaction that may or may not happen again. CSA, on the other hand, is subscription-based and the customer (member) pays all at one time for a season’s worth of produce, enabling farmers to better plan their farm with income and commitment early on in the season, and enabling members to pick up fresh, local and organic food every week.

3. Why isn’t your fruit organic? What does Integrated Pest Management mean?

Weather conditions in the Northeast make growing organic tree fruit in large quantities near impossible. Though many local fruit growers are not certified organic, most small, local farmers will follow good growing practices because avoiding the use of pesticides means preserving their farm land and protecting their own family from toxic materials.

To ensure safe growing practices, farmers use a method called Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This method is an environmentally sensitive approach to growing fruit that reduces or eliminates the use of pesticides, while at the same time managing pest populations at an acceptable level. Potential pests that may endanger the fruit are first analyzed; strategies are then decided on the best way to deter these pests from the crop. Strategies of IPM include using mechanical trapping devices, natural predators (e.g., insects that eat other insects), insect growth regulators, and mating disruption substances (pheromones). Though IPM has no public certification, a farm’s IPM program is closely monitored by an agricultural institution, such as Cornell Cooperative Extension, to ensure the most strategic and least toxic methods are being used. Many times, however, farms will not become IPM certified because the cost of certification is expensive.

4. I am bored of getting the same fruit three weeks in a row in the beginning of the season. Why can’t we have more variety?

We provide food that’s seasonal and fresh. There may be a stretch of time when only one or two fruits are available (most likely when we transition from berries to stone fruits in mid-summer) because not many fruits grow abundantly in the area local to New York City. Unlike vegetables, fruit is quite limited. However, we’ll see more variety as the season progresses.

5. How come I see certain varieties of fruit or vegetables available at the farmers market or grocery store that we don’t have at the CSA?

Grocery stores purchase produce from all across the world that travels for long periods of time, losing much of its flavor and nutrients along the way.

At the farmers market, you’ll see produce considered “local,” which usually means that it comes from farms within 150 miles of NYC; food coming from as far south as New Jersey or as far north as upstate New York. Availability and abundance differs; climates can be drastically different between two farms even a few miles apart. New Jersey farms, for example, tend to be one month ahead of the growing season of upstate New York, which explains why you might see blueberries from our CSA but not at the farmers market.

Being a part of a CSA means that you’ll get fresh, nutritious food and find out what makes the regions we work with and live in unique.

6. Sometimes it feels like some items are less expensive at the grocery store or farmers market. Why is that?

At the grocery store or places such as Fresh Direct, organic foods are usually imported from overseas or California, which are cheaper because those USDA organic farmers are big enough to afford a more mechanized process and cheap labor, and the grocers are big enough to negotiate low prices. Those farms might grow organically according to the USDA National Organic Program (see question 2), but the specific guidelines they follow are not necessarily sustainable. According to the USDA definitions, ”organic” does not mean “no spray”, or even “sustainable”; USDA organic producers are typically medium to large-scale producers that might farm acres and acres of just one crop. Through a CSA, you are able to visit the farm yourself or ask the farmer about their growing practices. There is far less anonymity when purchasing local.

At the farmers market, all the farms are local; however, the majority of the farms are not organic. It’s always important to ask a farmer their growing practices if this is a concern to you. Because our farmer is organic and does not use any spray, some items may be more expensive due to the extra labor required.

It’s always good to remember that the CSA is priced at an average over a 3 month season. Weekly bounties may differ depending on farm conditions but we’ll always ensure that you receive a healthy harvest of food.

7. I don’t live/work near any of your CSA locations, but would like to join one. What do I do?

You can either send us suggestions for new locations, join a pre-existing CSA, or start your own CSA!

8. Will I be able to pick what I get in each share?

Every week, the farmer and producers inform us on what they have available, and we select items to feature in the CSA that week based on variety and what our members suggest. Sometimes, you’ll have an opportunity to choose between items if the producer doesn’t have enough of one single option. For example, you may be able to chose between white peaches or yellow peaches in a fruit share or between kale and collard greens in a vegetable share. Having a choice between two items always depends on what members choose during the distribution time, and members who arrive later might only see one option left but we will always do our best to accommodate late comers.

9. I would like a CSA at work. Do these exist?

We offer several workplace CSA deliveries in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Email us at [email protected] for more info.