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C.S.A. FAQ

“I have a 10 month old son who started eating solids near the start of our CSA share this year. It felt so great that most of his first foods (and all of his first fruits and veggies) came from our local farm. As always, the folks at Applecrest are amazing. Keep it up! “

-Meghan C., Exeter, NH
How do I sign up?

By far, the easiest and quickest means of enrollment is via our website which will take you step-by-step through the process. To sign up now, click here.

Will I get to preview what's in my weekly share?

You bet. Each week just prior to pick-up, we'll email members with our weekly "What's in this week’s share" which spells out all the fruit and veggies featured in that week's FarmShare. Please remember that farmers Pete & Todd make their best estimate of what will be ripe and ready for picking by harvest day. But because Mother Nature doesn't always respect well-laid plans, occasional last minute substitutions can occur which will not be reflected in the newsletter.

Click here for a sampling of what you might find in your C.S.A. box at various points in the season...

What varieties of fruit does Applecrest Farm grow?

We produce over 75 unique varieties of tree fruits, stone fruits, berries and melons, including (but not limited to): 30 strains of heirloom and standard apple varieties, blueberries, cantaloupes, red and yellow watermelon, honeydew melon, Crenshaw melon, yellow and white nectarines, yellow and white peaches, Asian pears, red and purple plums, red and golden raspberries and over a dozen varieties of sweet strawberries.

Click here to see when our crops come to bear.

What varieties of veggies does Applecrest Farm grow?

Our farm is home to upwards of 75 wonderfully distinct varieties over a crop list encompassing nearly every vegetable grown under the sun. It's literally A to Z: arugula, asparagus, basil, green yellow and purple beans, , mixed, red and golden Chioggia beets, , green and purple broccoli, , brussel sprouts, green and red cabbage, purple, white and cheddar cauliflower, purple and orange carrots, , Swiss and rainbow chard, yellow and white sweet corn, pickling and slicing cucumbers, eggplant, red and green kale, kohlrabi, leeks, green and red Boston bib lettuce, iceberg lettuce, green and red oak leaf lettuce, green and red romaine lettuce, mixed loose leaf spring lettuces and, red and yellow onions, Italian and green parsley, parsnips, sugar snap, snow and English shell peas, green, yellow, red, orange and hot peppers, red, , sugar and standard pumpkins, radishes, rhubarb, , spinach, summer and winter squashes, heirloom, Roma, cherry and grape tomatoes, turnips and zucchini. Just to name a few…

What is a Share (and what is it worth)?

Very simply, a "share" represents our farm's commitment to the C.S.A. members. It takes form as a weekly delivered box abundant with the tastiest, freshest and most nutritious food to be had.

In previous years, our members with a Fruit & Veggie Share realized a handsome 15-20% return on their investment. Our Locavores enjoyed an amazing 38% at a value of just over $340.

In many ways, however, that question of “worth” is really more linked with the value placed upon eating local and sustainably grown food, on knowing the farmer who grew it and the plot of land where it all comes from. Throw in factors such as strengthened community bonds, the bolstering of local agriculture and economies, landscape preservation and the many C.S.A. Benefits and, well, the true "worth" of a share takes on new meaning.

Will my FarmShare be less expensive than the grocery store?

One can always find cheap produce somewhere. But, in the unlikely event that your regional grocery chain carries the same quality produce grown with similar farming methods, we're extremely confident you'll be hard-pressed to find better value and price than that offered by a FarmShare.

Below are some notable results from last year’s end-season Member Survey:

  • 49% reported fewer overall WEEKLY TRIPS to the supermarket.
  • 90% purchased LESS produce during those trips to the grocery.
  • 47% noted a decrease in their family's overall FOOD DOLLARS spent.
  • 91% viewed FarmShare produce QUALITY as superior to the grocery.
  • 73% saw the CSA produce VALUE as greater than the supermarket's.

A word of caution: Beyond the inherent difficulties of making such a comparison, it is not recommended to choose a C.S.A. based solely on price. Despite the real potential for food dollar savings, C.S.A.'s are not about cheap food, which is neither nourishing nor grown with care for you or the environment in mind. Potential members should consider all the beneficial aspects of a C.S.A. experience and how it might mesh with their family's spending habits and lifestyle.

How much produce is in a box?

Given the diverse array of crops and varieties that come and go over the course of the growing cycles, there is no standard content, weight or volume that a shareholder might expect on any given week. Watermelons are bigger than blueberries. English Peas carry a higher market value than carrots but, they're lighter. What can be expected is that each week's share will boast upwards of a dozen different varieties of super fresh, hand-picked fruits, vegetables and herbs with a value of appropriate to your selected share size.

Click here for a sampling of what you might find in your C.S.A. box at various points in the season.

What’s the difference between a Full Share and a ½ Share?

The Full Share is designed to keep your average family flush with fruit and veggies for an entire week. The ½ Share will typically consist of all the same produce items as the Full Share, but in quantities designed for smaller families, retirees or single person households.

What if I don't like beets? (Or peaches? Or spinach? Or squash?) I don't want to waste food or spend money on produce I'm not going to eat.

It's inevitable and unavoidable: not every member is going to like every single item each and every week. However, one of the many upsides of FarmShare C.S.A. is our extended growing season with its strong focus on universally appreciated fruits and veggies. This means we grow what you like. And we do it all season long. That's not to say we don't grow some unique or less widely popular crops and varieties but, they're offered only periodically and in well-balanced moderation.

To further combat "I-hate-beets-but-adore-leeks" syndrome, we offer "The Swap Bin". If at pick-up time on any given week there's a particular item you don't want, it may be placed in this bin and swapped out for something more preferable. The Swap Bin is stocked with an excess cross-section of that day's harvest and offers a welcome degree of choice and flexibility with very little fuss. An honor system ensures that fellow members can enjoy the Swap Bin throughout the pick-up day. Due to logistics, this option is offered for pick-ups at the main farm only.

I already grow some of my own veggies. How does a C.S.A. share fit me?

Many of our customers currently have their own backyard gardens. Because of space limitations (not to mention time), these small plots typically tend towards basic staple items, can be susceptible to heavy losses due to pest pressure and very rarely include fruit. Any staples that might be duplicated in your weekly box will provide an assured flexibility for meals during the week. In addition, a C.S.A. share also provides a breadth of produce items and varieties rarely found in small home gardens.

Will all the produce in my share come from Applecrest?

Some C.S.A.'s don't actually grow anything; they just market and distribute other farm's products. It is our goal and self-imposed challenge to be the sole producer of all the fruit and veggies you'll receive from our C.S.A. That in mind, crop failures can (and will) happen and we want to be sure our members are satisfied. So, in the event we find a need to bring in produce, rest assured it will be only of the highest quality sourced from other premium local growers with whom we've cultivated partnerships.

What if I don't know how to use (or even recognize!) an item in my weekly box?

Not to worry! A trove of botanical info, recipes, storage, handling and prep tips are archived on our website blog and are an invaluable tool in acquainting members with our fruits and veggies and all their culinary possibilities. We are also always available by phone or email, (and yes, in person, too) to answer any questions you might have. We love talking about our produce and how to make it family friendly and delicious!

Do you wash the veggies?

Most, but not all, of our produce is given a clean water bath after harvesting. But, because Applecrest follows a low-spray policy and grows some crops organically, your box may occasionally contain a hitchhiker – or two – and your veggies will look like they were grown by real people, under real conditions. So, as with all produce (organically grown or otherwise), it is always recommended to wash items before consumption.

How do I best store my produce so it doesn't spoil?

A great question... with a myriad of answers. Always wash that, don't trim this and never store X with Y. Keeping track of all the little rules can be daunting. But, knowing how to properly handle and store your produce is super critical in retaining the freshness and vitality of all those nutrient-packed goodies in your share. Our Newsletter and blog will serve as an invaluable tool throughout the C.S.A. season with its ever increasing archive of produce guidelines, helpful tools and tips and other secrets of the trade.

What if I'm not the greatest Cook? Do you have any good recipes?

The secret to good cooking is great ingredients. The second secret is simple and reliable recipes. Luckily, we've got you covered on both fronts. The website blog contains scores of recipes that coordinate with your weekly box contents.

I just love your sweet corn and tomatoes! Can I get more?

Of Course! While the contents of the weekly share box are fixed, our farm stand is just yards away from the pick-up site and always well-stocked with the latest and greatest from that day's harvest. So, if you're having guests, throwing a party or simply just can't get enough, drop on in and we'll be happy to help. Remember to mention you’re a CSA member when checking out at the register so you can benefit from a 15% discount every time you shop!

Why would I want to join the C.S.A. if I can shop anytime at the farm?

The Applecrest Farm Stand has been a vital community resource for nearly a century and we have every hope it will continue to be so for another hundred years. But, FarmShare, C.S.A. came about because it was something our loyal customers asked for. It seems that the beneficial aspects of the entire C.S.A. experience fill a need beyond the simple ability to drop-in and shop when you please. And while both approaches are valid and equally contribute to our overall farm viability, the C.S.A. just proves a better fit with our member families and their lifestyles.

How do I know if joining a C.S.A. is right for me? I don't want to pay all that money and then be disappointed.

The most common reason given for quitting a C.S.A. is that people cannot use all the vegetables. Be realistic about your family's lifestyle: if you eat out often, travel heavily during the growing season or consume a lot of pre-prepared foods, a C.S.A. may not work for you. If you live by yourself and think a full share may be too much produce for your needs, consider starting with a ½ share or splitting with a friend, neighbor or co-worker.

Our customers vary from students to singles to large families to retirees. Some are vegetarians or vegans, but most are simply interested in fresh, locally-grown, nutritious and flavorful food. For many, joining Applecrest's FarmShare, C.S.A. will herald a whole new way of cooking, eating and sharing food. Members soon find a deeper connection to their nourishment, making more dishes and meals "from scratch" and a renewed interest in trying new foods and different ways of preparing them.

Can I get a ½ share or split a full share with a friend?

Absolutely. If a full weekly share seems a bit daunting for your particular household needs, a ½ share or split share can be a smart and economical work-around that still gives you access to fresh and sustainably grown local produce. Friends, family, neighbors or co-workers would all be great candidates for such an arrangement.

I started the season with a ½ share but it’s proving a bit skimpy the family. Can I upgrade to a full share mid-season?

No problem. If you find that your present volume is inadequate for your band of ravenous locavores, you always have the option to upgrade to your own full share. We will simply prorate the cost of the increase. Please email us at CSA@applecrest.com and we'll help you with the transition.

I'm looking at splitting a full share with my friend. How does sharing a box work?

We leave this responsibility entirely up to the shareholders and their potential box mates. How and when they split the produce or handle shared costs is their individual decision. All we ask is that one primary shareholder is designated. This lead person would handle the FarmShare enrollment, account management and be responsible for all payments.

We also need to be kept informed of who is sharing with whom. Applecrest will record the complete contact information (mailing address, phone numbers and email address) for all persons involved in splitting a box. This is to ensure that all parties are informed about general farm news and events, as well as any specific changes or notices that are necessary to communicate to our shareholders.

How do we actually go about divvying up a share?

Again, the actual physical process of splitting a box falls to the responsibility of the shareholders involved. But we do have the following guidelines which might serve to make the process move smoothly: First, the shares (which are packed in a single box) must be picked up all at once. We strongly encourage shareholders to take their whole box home and then split it with box mates; this is by far the easiest way. Another alternative is to "divide" the share by just having box mate's pick up on alternate weeks.

Can someone else pick-up my box for me?

Absolutely. As part of the sign-up process, primary members are able to designate additional people authorized to act as their "agent." Whether they be neighbors, friends, family members or coworkers, these individuals will be "on-the-list" and able to pick up your share in the event you are unable.

What if I'm on vacation or going to be out of town on my designated pick-up day?

If leaving for vacation and unable to find someone who wants a free box of fresh, delicious produce, FarmShare members can easily reschedule to an alternative pick up day or place their share "on-hold" while they are away. Basically, this means that we do not build your share and, as a member, you forgo the share and its value for that time period your share is on-hold. Please understand that we cannot double up in subsequent weeks or allow for ‘make-up’ shares.

What if I forget to pick up my box?

FarmShare boxes will be ready for pick-up at the farm on the designated date and time as established by each member upon sign-up. The box is guaranteed during these pick-up hours. If no prior arrangements have been made and you (or your agent) do not pick up during designated hours, your box will be considered a donation to the local food bank.

Please note: Late pick-ups and/or forgotten shares will not be eligible for replacement or credit. There are no exceptions to this policy.

How about a pick-up day carpool list?

At the start of the season, a carpool sign-up sheet will be made available at the pick-up site. If you are interested in connecting with other members for carpooling, please add your contact information. We will distribute the sign-up sheet to interested members, and then the rest is up to you. Thanks for helping to save fossil fuels.

Can I try out a membership with a sample share, maybe for a month or so?

Unfortunately, we are unable to offer sample shares. Our hope is that word-of-mouth and our descriptive materials will give prospective shareholders a well-rounded picture of what our FarmShare program entails, what to expect and the scope of commitment involved.

If I decide to cancel my membership, do I get any refund?

This is a touchy subject... and the short answer is no. Here's the good reason why: a C.S.A. membership benefits you in many ways, but it also benefits the farmer because we have an up-front and exact budget on which to plan the season. That means by the time the growing season starts, we've already allocated the funds from our membership fees to pay for the seeds, supplies, equipment, labor and so forth that will allow the season to come to harvest. While we'd sincerely like to accommodate special circumstances, providing a refund would jeopardize the season for all of our members. If you find yourself in an unfortunate circumstance mid-season, contact us to make us aware, and we will recommend that you arrange for someone to take over the remainder of your weekly shares. You will, of course, want to arrange payment details between yourselves, but we can help you determine the value of those remaining shares, and assist in the transition any way we can.

Applecrest Farm | 133 Exeter Road (Rt.88) | Hampton Falls, NH 03844 | Phone 603.926.3721 | info@applecrest.com