With an order to stay at home as much as possible, some New Yorkers are turning to CSA’s to get fresh produce without leaving their apartment.
CSA’s, short for community supported agriculture, bring produce from local farms straight to you. With long grocery lines and more people needing to cook at home both to save money and because we need to limit our time out of the house, some people are turning to CSA’s to replace or supplement their grocery shopping.
Farm to People is a Brooklyn-based CSA. They typically get 60 new subscribers in one week, but from March 12-19, the week public schools finally closed, they got over 300 new subscribers and had to more than double their delivery days.
This spring is a complete change from last year for Farm to People.
“We are the opposite [this year],” said Rachel Steinhauser, marketing director at the company. “We have more orders. We’ve had to expand our operations very quickly by adding delivery days and sort of getting more team members which is difficult especially now, but also not, because all these people have been laid off.”
Millions of people have registered for unemployment across the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began, while essential businesses, like CSA’s, grocery stores, and pharmacies, are seeing the opposite – they need employees now more than ever.
“We have to be very careful because we’re dealing with food and there’s a pandemic virus, and it’s not an easy job packing the boxes,” Steinhauser said. Each box at their CSA, and many others, is customizable and made to order. “They’re all different. And we were just slowly growing.” Steinhauser has worked there for over a year and says their business has been growing steadily since they began their current inception as Farm to People in early 2019. But the growth they’ve seen in the past few weeks is completely unprecedented.
Last Monday, March 23, they made the call to stop accepting new subscribers. They now have a waiting list for when they are able to start taking new orders, but at the moment they are at their limits. This month, they’ve gone from delivering just on Mondays and Wednesdays to running daily deliveries Monday through Friday.
“We’re exhausted, but we’re excited for these people that are finding us now through necessity to learn about what we do and how it’s different,” Steinhauser said. “And how they can – when things are back to normal – how they can choose to spend their money in a way that supports … farmers who care about our environment and the health of us.”
Small farms are struggling due to the coronavirus epidemic. Many restaurants are regular customers for local farms, and have closed down or are limited to pick-up and delivery.
You can get on Farm to People’s waitlist here.
Here are some other options:
- Local Roots NYC is another local CSA still accepting new subscribers, and have expanded their delivery days as well.
- Brooklyn Grange Farm, which will begin distributing produce in May, as well as
- Brooklyn Bridge CSA,
- DUMBO + Vinegar Hill CSA, and
- Park Slope CSA, whose seasons will get started in June, are also all still accepting members