Since we’ve started sharing our concept for the Cool Beans CSA with friends, who have forwarded the information to their friends (hey!  we’re viral!) several people have mentioned that they’re already in a CSA and considering switching.  Or, sometimes, they’ve asked us for our opinions about the other CSAs in the area.

Judi and I are huge fans of all of the local CSA operations.  We count many of their owners among our friends.  We will never, ever, say anything bad about any of them.  If you’re a member of another CSA and you’re happy, stay there, because you’ve found what works for you.

If you’re a member of a CSA already and you’re not happy, think about your reasons before making any decisions.  If you weren’t thrilled with last year’s tomatoes, for instance, you need to remember that last year was probably the single worst tomato year in recent memory due to a widespread blight.  Nobody was happy with their tomatoes last year.  If some of your weekly baskets weren’t as full as others, well, that’s the nature of a CSA – you’re in a partnership with the farmer, and you share in the ups and downs.  Some weeks will have a little more, some a little less.  (My job, as the detail-person, is making sure it evens out for you.  And it will.)

If your reason for considering a switch has to do with timing or location, or the overall size of the CSA, then we might be the right fit for you.

By some estimates, local food accounts for less than 3% of what’s on the collective dinner plates in our community.  There is plenty of room for Cool Beans and many other CSAs in central PA.  Our friends who manage CSA programs all have waiting lists.  They’ve offer to share their plans with us, to trouble-shoot our ideas.  They’re good people, and they’re not worried about competition.

Each CSA offers a slightly different experience for the consumer.  (In CSA-speak, consumers are referred to as ‘eaters’, by the way.)  There are pros and cons to any CSA.  Our job is to make it clear what we can and cannot do – and your job is to compare us with other CSA programs and find the right fit for you.

We know a few things we didn’t know a week or two ago, simply based on the phenomenal feedback we’ve received so far.   We are looking at a Friday pickup or delivery, based on our other obligations.   If Friday is not workable for you, you’ll find CSAs with other options – I’d suggest you check Local Harvest (, at which you’d type in your zip code and find options near you.)

We know we’ll offer on-site pickup at Judi’s farm in Duncannon and at mine in Dauphin, and that we’ll have at least one delivery site.  Now, this is where it gets complicated – we can’t commit to a delivery site without a minimum number of members, and the minimum required is going to hinge to an extent on the location.  Time is at a premium during harvest season, and making deliveries takes time.  So we have to all work this out together – not just Judi and me, but you, our ‘eaters’.  Talk to us, tell us what will work or not work for you. (There’s an email address for me, Katie, in the earlier post.)

I believe that what Judi and I will offer at Cool Beans will be a unique, very personal relationship between eaters and farmers.  We both loved the suggestion that we offer workshops in food preservation, and I’m already looking into options for that and other related workshops.  We fully intend to host occasional social events so our members can get to know each other.  We hope to share member’s recipes in addition to our own.  If someone finds a wonderful source for local food we don’t know about, we’re going to share it with everyone.  You’ll have the option, on this blog, of seeing pictures and reading about what’s happening at both farms every week.  If we get bogged down one week because one of Judi’s little ones is ill, or something else happens, we’ll put out an S.O.S. for bean-picking help or whatever we need.

In short, our members will be part of our families.  If that’s a scary thought, you’ll want to look at a big CSA, where you will receive wonderful food at a fair price just like you will with us, but perhaps not be on a first-name basis with everyone else.   Find what works for you and your family.  If we can answer any questions, even in this formative stage, that will help you decide, please contact us.


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