Cool Beans is a CSA based at Stoney Creek Valley Farm in Dauphin, PA. The majority of the food for the CSA is grown here, but a few things are contracted out to nearby farmers with similar practices and values. Your Cool Beans produce will be raised sustainably and organically, with respect for the land and the people involved in the process. I have not filled out all the forms and paid the (substantial) fee to be officially certified organic, but I do follow organic practices.
At its most basic, a CSA (community supported agriculture) is an agreement between a farmer and an ‘eater’ in which the customer pays ahead of time for a weekly share of seasonal produce from the farm, sharing in both the risks and the windfalls of the farm’s year. Cool Beans has tweaked that basic formula just a bit so that our members don’t receive overwhelming amounts of any one item by setting up informal agreements with other sustainable farmers. If I grow too much of one thing and not enough of another, or if something fails here, I’ll swap with another farmer I trust so that things even out a bit more for our Beans. (I don’t want to eat Swiss chard twice a week all summer, either.)
Members pick up weekly shares at a pre-determined location (I offer several options). If you can’t pick up your share because of another commitment, you can have someone else pick it up instead or let us know to simply cancel it for that week. It’s important that your schedule allow you to pick up your share during the time indicated, so look over the options before making a decision. Your bags will be safe at the drop sites, but the quality of the produce can’t be guaranteed if you don’t pick them up within a few hours.
There are numerous CSA programs in the southcentral PA area, and we think highly of all of them. We are occasionally asked why the Cool Beans CSA would be the best choice for someone considering a CSA, and the simple answer is that it might not be the right one for you. Each CSA has a slightly different twist – different pickup options, different share sizes, etc. – and we encourage everyone to look into all of the local options before choosing a CSA. Cool Beans tends to offer more different items per bag, but smaller amounts of each item, than many local CSA programs.
The Cool Beans farmer is committed to providing members with the same fresh, healthy, safely grown food that she feeds her own family. The things we don’t grow ourselves are purchased or bartered for from farmer friends we trust, so that our members have a wide range of items each week. Our bags will include vegetables, fruit, and occasionally value-added items, such as freshly ground wheat flour, baked goods, or cheese. (I do not include meat products in our CSA, but I can point you toward several wonderful farmers in the area who raise safe meat.) My goal is to introduce members to the wide range of locally available options for awesome food.
Another unusual feature of Cool Beans is that members are encouraged to learn about growing their own food to the extent that they’re interested in doing so. If you have space for them in your yard or on a deck, I’ll give you tomato and herb plants. You can purchase other seedlings here at Stoney Creek at a special discounted price each spring.
Two sizes of shares are available this year. A full share is designed for a family or for two people who love vegetables. A small share is designed for singles or for someone who might have large backyard garden. I strongly recommend full shares as your best value and suggest that you consider splitting a full share with a friend or neighbor, and either sharing each week’s basket, or alternating weeks. A full share is $500, and a small share is $300; this is for 24 weeks beginning on Tuesday, May 14, and running until Tuesday, October 29.
An egg option is available as an add-on. For $86, you’ll receive a dozen farm-fresh eggs each week; for $50, your share will include six eggs.
Some additional items may be available occasionally a la carte as the season progresses, and I’ll make that information available to members as the opportunities arise.
There is no typical weekly basket, since it all depends on seasonal availability, but you’ll receive a variety every week, and the overall amount you receive will have a monetary value greater than the cost of your share.
I have several pickup options this year, all on Tuesdays:
At Katie’s (Stoney Creek Valley Farm, 1170 Stoney Creek Rd, Dauphin) after 3 pm
- Harrisburg (Penbrook area, 304 N 30th) 3:30-8:00 pm
- Camp Hill (19th St, near the library) 4:00- 8:00 pm
- Mechanicsburg (108 E Locust St, 4:30-8:00 pm)
- New Cumberland (2nd St) after 7 pm (or at the NCTB rehearsal Tuesday nights)
Seventy five shares will be available in 2014 and based on feedback from 2013 members and the waiting list, I expect to sell out, so I recommend that you reserve a spot early. A fifty dollar check, made payable to Cool Beans CSA and mailed to Katie College, 1170 Stoney Creek Road, Dauphin PA 17018, will hold your spot. You’d be welcome to pay in full up front, or you can pay half of your balance by the end of February and the remainder by April. My ‘payment plan’ is a bit informal – I would like you to make the arrangement that works best for you, but which also acknowledges that I can’t purchase spring supplies and pay my helpers if you wait until the last minute. Just let me know what your plan is, so I know what to expect. This year, it would be especially helpful if you could pay in full when you sign up because I’m financing a large farm project, but if you can’t, that’s fine.
It’s impossible to include everything here that you might want to know – so please don’t hesitate to email with any questions you might have. You may also wish to read through some of the blog entries, which range from informative essays on my philosophy about food safety to hastily dashed-off last minute messages to members on delivery days.
The 2014 season will be fourth for Cool Beans. I can safely sum up my CSA by telling you that I love what I do, I work my butt off, I mess up sometimes but always do my best to fix problems, and I truly love my members.