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Want to support local farmers and gain access to fresh produce, meat and locally sourced food items? Consider joining one of Lancaster County’s CSA programs.

Community Supported Agriculture programs divide produce, meat, herbs — and other add-on options such as dairy, baked goods and flowers — and offer it to shareholders at designated locations (some offer home delivery) typically on a weekly basis. Shareholders pay an upfront cost, but some programs have pay-as-you-go options, discounts and prorated shares.

It can seem costly, but consider the benefits of having access to fresh produce, along with the ability to reduce the distance between where your food is grown and your kitchen. And there’s the added benefit of directly supporting, and oftentimes meeting, the farmers that grow the food.

According to the Penn State Extension, CSAs began on the East Coast in the 1980s. It’s estimated that between 30,000 and 50,000 U.S. consumers belong to a CSA.

Here’s more information about nine CSA programs with pickup locations and delivery options in Lancaster County. They are arranged by sign-up deadlines.

2017 CSA

A produce share from Old Homestead Farm has vegetables, herbs and fruit.

LANCASTER FARM FRESH COOPERATIVE

What you get: Organic produce from more than 100 family farms, mostly based in Lancaster County.

New this year: Small shares and CSMs (Community Supported Medicine organic herbal medicine shares).

Season: 27 weeks, April 29 to Oct. 28.

Pickup locations: More than 20 in Lancaster County.

Cost: A small share (4 items) is $445; a medium share (7 to 8 items) is $650; a large share (11 to 13 items) is $890; a fruit share (2 to 3 items for 21 weeks) is $210; organic herbal medicine (5-6 items; 4 shares throughout the season) is $250; a meat share (1-3 items, 3 pounds) is $950; a chicken share (1-3 items, 3 pounds) is $540; a weekly egg share (1 dozen eggs) is $180; biweekly egg share (1 dozen eggs) is $98; a flower share (1 bouquet) is $285; biweekly herbs share (2 bunches) is $60; a biweekly cheese share (3 pieces) is $350; a bread share (1 loaf) is $203; a gluten-free bread share (1 loaf) is $230; a yogurt share (1 quart per week) is $115.

Deadline: April 19. Shares purchased later will be prorated.

More information: lancasterfarmfresh.com; 717-656-3533 ext. 2.

Tomato Barn tomatoes

Tomatoes ripen in the Tomato Barn in Washington Boro.

TOMATO BARN

What you get: Produce from Washington Boro-based produce stand and cooperating local farms.

New this year: Full and small flex shares. Can make pickups Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Season: 12 weeks, June 11 to Aug. 28.

Pickup locations: The Tomato Barn in Washington Boro.

Costs: A full share (serves typically 2-4) is $255; a small share (serves typically 1-2 people) is $130; fresh salsa add-on (one pint of hot, medium or mild per week) is $68; local cheese add-on (choice of one 8-ounce block/sliced of multiple varieties) is $60; free range eggs add-on (dozen brown eggs per week) is $36.

Deadline: April 30. Late registration runs from May 1 to June 11, with an extra $25 for full share and extra $10 for small share.

More information: tomatobarn.com; 717-684-2597.

Meck's

These are peppers at Meck's Produce in Central Market September 1, 2017.

MECK’S PRODUCE

What you get: Fresh produce from 62-acre Strasburg-area farm.

New this year: Now offering add-on local raw whole milk shares.

Season: 22 weeks, June 4 to Oct. 30.

Pickup locations: Meck’s Farm Market, Lancaster Central Market.

Cost: Complete season: a full share (8 items) is $506; a small share (6 items) is $330. See website for more add-on options, including fresh desserts, baked breads, local raw milk cheese, grass-fed beef and local raw whole milk shares. 

Deadline: May 4.

More information: mecksproduce.com.

2017 CSA

Produce shares from Herrcastle Farm have vegetables and local fruit.

HERRCASTLE FARM

What you get: Produce from the Holtwood farm specializing in heirloom tomatoes.

New this year: New drop-off location at Lancaster County Farmers Market in Wayne.

Season: 20 weeks, May 31 to Oct. 8.

Pickup locations: Herrcastle Farm or three farmers market locations. New locations may be added if 15 or more shareholders are in a specific area.

Cost: A full share (8 vegetables, 1 fruit, 1 herb) is $575; a half share (4 vegetables, 1 fruit) is $300. There is a 10 percent reduced rate for shares paid before April 30.

Deadline: May 25. Shares purchased later will be prorated.

More information: www.herrcastlefarm.com; 717-284-3203.

CSA

Community-supported agriculture shareholders get months of local produce and at some farms, can pick their own.

LEMON STREET MARKET

What you get: Fresh local produce including chemical-free, non-GMO vegetables, fruits and herbs from farms in Lancaster and York counties.

New this year: Full-share members are eligible for two “skip weeks” and half-share members are eligible for one. Let the market know in advance and receive a $25 gift card for the store in place of a CSA share.

Season: Full-share season is 17 weeks (June 6 to Sept. 26); half-share season is 8 weeks (June 13 to Sept. 19 with pickups every other week).

Pickup location: Lemon Street Market, 241 W. Lemon Street (every Thursday from 10 a.m to 7 p.m.).

Cost: A full share (8-10 items) is $500; a half share (8-10 items) is $250.

Deadline: May 30 (or until 30- participant limit is reached).

More information: lemonstreetmarket.com; amy.lemonstreet@gmail.com.

Homefields Care Farm

"Homefields Care Farm offers a CSA share with on farm pickups. In addition to receiving veggie shares, shareholders can pick their own herbs and flowers." 

HOMEFIELDS CARE FARM

What you get: Fresh produce, herbs and specialty items and add-ons available from this Millersville-based nonprofit farm. Homefields provides adults with disabilities and special needs with employment opportunities.

New this year: New on-site farmer Kathryn Landis is available to answer any questions.

Season: 25 weeks, June to mid-November.

Pickup locations: At the farm., 150 Letort Road, Millersville. Pickups available on Thursdays, 3-7 p.m.; Fridays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Cost: A full share (7-12 items) is $695; a half share (smaller portions of the 7-12 items) is $425. Access to a pick-your-own field with hot pepper, cherry tomatoes, herbs and more included with shares.

Deadline: June 5. Shares purchased after the season starts will be prorated.

More information: homefields.org/farm; 717-871-3110 or farmer@homefields.org.

MIRROR IMAGE FARMS

What you get: Grass-fed beef, chemical-free, non-GMO grain, pastured pork and chicken from a farm in Bainbridge.

New this year: New pickup location for pastured chicken share is at the Horn Farm Center in York.

Season: Meat CSA is year-round, divided into three 4-month seasons (June-Sept.; Oct.-Jan; Feb.-May).

Pickup locations: Three Lancaster locations, including Homefields Farms vegetable CSA, Millersville, and The Horn Farm Center in York (chicken share only). New locations may be added if a group of shareholders are in a specific area.

Cost: A standard whole share (three kinds of meat, 20 pounds per month) is $600; a standard half share (10 pounds per month); is $335; a whole red meat-only share (10 pounds of grass-fed beef and 10 pounds of pastured pork per month) is $660; a half-size red meat-only share (5 pounds of beef and 5 pounds of pork per month); a pastured chicken share (each share is about 12 pounds per month and includes 1 whole chicken, 2 packs of legs/thighs, 2 packs of boneless skinless breasts, and once a season a pack of wings) is $320; egg share (a dozen eggs per week from June through November and available to Homefield Farm shareholder only) is $96.

Deadline: June 10.

More information: mirrorimagefarms.com/meat-csa; farmers@MirrorImageFarms.co; 717-517-6068.

Doorstep Dairy

Doorstep Dairy delivers milk and more, including farm shares throughout northern Lancaster County.

DOORSTEP DAIRY

What you get: Home delivery of locally grown produce, fruit, flowers, dairy and baked goods from farmers and food businesses based in Lancaster, Berks and Chester counties.

New this year: Pay-as-you-go option. Not obligated to order every week.

Season: 38 weeks, April 1 to Dec. 16.

Pickup locations: Home delivery. See website for delivery area.

Cost: A regular farm produce share (5-plus items) is $28; large farm produce share (8-plus items) is $38; fruit share (2-3 items) is $18; flower share (1 bouquet a week for 20 weeks) is $18. A fee of $6.95 is charged for every delivery less than $60; free delivery for orders over $60.

Deadline: Orders for fruit and farm shares are finalized on Friday for delivery the following week.

More information: doorstepdairy.com/specials/csa-season; 717-283-4060.

crawford organics17.jpg

Jim Crawford picks carrrots at Crawford Organics.

CRAWFORD ORGANICS

What you get: Organic produce from family farms in Ephrata and Paradise.

New this year: New pickup location in Sinking Spring.

Season: Three seasons: 4 weeks, April 9 to May 6; 16 weeks, May 7 to Aug. 26; 16 weeks, Aug. 27 to Dec. 10.

Pickup locations: Crawford Organics and more than a dozen other locations including in Ephrata.

Cost: Prices for April shares: a standard vegetable share (7-9 items) is $108; a mini-vegetable share (5-6 items) is $88; add-on egg share is $22; add-on yogurt share is $21. Prices for May 7-Aug. 26 shares: a standard vegetable share (7-9 items) is $528; the mini-vegetable share (5-6 items) is $352; an add-on egg share is $88; an add-on yogurt share is $94.50 and a fruit share (18 weeks) is $185. A 2% discount for fall season shares is available for orders made by the end of July. More discounts on the website. All shares are available with a biweekly option for half price. See website for Aug. 27-Dec. 10 share prices.

Deadline: None. Shares purchased later will be prorated.

More information: crawfordorganics.com; CSA@crawfordorganics.com; 717-445-6880.