Frequently Asked Questions
What is Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative?
We, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative (LFFC), are a non-profit organic cooperative of small-scale, Certified Organic farms in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Our, now 100+, family farmers originally began as a handful of families who’d realized they were traveling to and competing in the same marketplaces. Rather than continue to compete, the farmers decided to work together as a cooperative, share their resources to better serve their goals, and sustain their livelihood.
As always, LFFC farmers continue to focus on creating nutrient dense, hyper local, healthy, and unsurpassed quality produce from our highly maintained and enriched Lancaster County soils.
Are LFFC member farms sustainable, organic, chemical-free?
Yes! All LFFC member farms are 100% Certified Organic or chemical-free. Each farm keeps meticulous records of all activities on all of their land and growing fields, from weed control to seed suppliers, compost methods, and crop rotation. Aside from the organic certification agencies, LFFC, as a cooperative, has very strict standards regarding land management and animal welfare. Our farmers regularly build up their soil, test plants, rotate crops, and practice pasture maintenance to sustain a healthy environment for our products.
What is CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a produce subscription program wherein individuals and families can purchase a weekly share of the harvest, which allows that person or family to participate in the season’s harvest and receive vegetable items appropriate to the season as weeks progress. Many CSA members find their vegetable repertoire grows with the season as they begin to receive some our personal favorites including unique vegetable varieties and beautiful heirlooms! We are no stranger to phone calls centered on vegetable identification!
CSA members pay for their shares when they register for their share(s) at the beginning of the season and receive weekly portions, or shares, for the duration of the season. Of course, the amount of produce they receive is based on which, and how many, shares they purchased at the beginning of the season. Included in this experience are the intrinsic risks and benefits of small-scale organic farming as affected by the weather of the particular season.
Unique to our CSA, compared to, say, a single, small farm CSA, is the variety of vegetable items we can offer our share holders throughout the season thanks to our extensive base of farmers! Additionally, all thanks to our large farmer base, the risks we mention and you may hear about elsewhere when considering a CSA membership, are much lower because of our large (100+!) farmer base. For example, if one farmer is experiencing tomato blight it is easier for us as a cooperative to manage this for your CSA by looking to a number of other farmers who may also be growing tomatoes.
How many vegetable varieties will I receive each week in my share?
The number of varieties you receive depends wholly on which share type you purchase at the beginning of the season. We do our best to describe the shares and those who’ve been satisfied with them so you, too, can have an awesome experience with us and our farmers’ top notch veggies. Of course, if you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
In the Large Vegetable Share, yes, the largest and most in charge, we harken the fullness of the season’s bounty. With 11 to 12 vegetable varieties weekly, we recommend this share for small families and couples who are avid, enthusiastic vegetable eaters who enjoy a good meal of home cookin’ as well as wide variety of veggie types!
Our Medium Vegetable Share, is anything but mediocre! Still abundant with the Earth’s goodness, one can expect 6 to 8 varieties of vegetables per week—a share one person may not need to share with anyone else! Averaging one veggie type per day, this is a choice of perfection for nightly side dishes for those with reserve, or smaller portions throughout each day!
What will I receive in my share?
We proudly source our vegetables from our member farmers here in Lancaster, PA as well as occasionally sourcing them from local and regional partners. Here are many of the vegetables we offer during our summer season:
May-June: Asparagus, Mushrooms, Micro Greens, Lettuces, Snow Peas, Mesclun Mix, Watercress, Baby Greens, Radishes, Young Kale, Sugar Snap Peas, Rhubarb, Spring Raab, Spinach, Strawberries, Garlic Mustard, Arugula, Braising Greens, Escarole, Stinging Nettles, Scallions, Spring Garlic, Dandelion, Chives, Garlic Scapes, Pea Tendrils, Sorrel, Baby Hakurei Turnips, Bok Choy, Radicchio, Cabbage, Parsnips, Rutabagas, Celeriac
July-August: Slicing Tomatoes, Heirloom Tomatoes, Peppers, Carrots, Heirloom Peppers, Hot Peppers, Sweet Peppers, Kale, Collard Greens, Swiss Chard, Kohlrabi, Asian Greens, Garlic, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Green Beans, Fava Beans, Onions, Leeks, Culinary Herbs, Lima Beans, Okra, Sweet Corn, Tomatillos, Watermelons, Summer Squash, Zucchini, Patty Pan Squash, Squash Blossoms, Cardoons, Globe Artichokes, Saltwort
September-October: Winter Squash, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Celeriac, Garlic, Kohlrabi, Pumpkin, Rutabagas, Sweet Potatoes, Kale, Collard Greens, Cauliflower, Fingerling Potatoes, Potatoes, Swiss Chard, Turnips, Heirloom Mixed Radishes, Spinach, Baby Greens, Lettuces, Onions, Shallots, Parsnips, Cabbage, Fennel, Endive, Leeks, Mustard Greens, Bell Peppers, Roma Tomatoes, Culinary Herbs, Mushrooms, Celery, Sunchokes, Carrots, Salsify
Fall Veggies typically include: Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Bok choy, Potatoes, Cabbage, many kinds of Winter Squash, Kale, Chard, Mushrooms, Carrots, Parsnips, Spinach, Arugula, Tatsoi ( a leafy green) , Microgreens, Garlic, Celery, Celeriac, Collard greens, Mustard greens, Beets, Cauliflower, Fennel, Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli Raab, Gourds, Radicchio, Endive, Leeks, Radishes, Rutabagas, Shallots, Onions, Scallions, Turnips. This is not an all-inclusive list.
How can I plan ahead for meals and what about recipes for those unique veggies?
We’ve got you (or, your dinner table) covered! We love planning ahead and learning new recipes, too. You will receive a newsletter from us about 2-3 days before you are to pick up your share. Newsletters include a list of vegetables our farmers predicted will be in your share based on their crops to-date so you can plan accordingly, and we also include a few recipes in each that we center on the more unique vegetables in each share to help streamline your meal planning. We love cooking at home, too, and we know sometimes recipe searching takes tons of time! We also include periodic storage tips as well as a get-to-know-your-farmer profile articles!
Please look for these great resources of information! We hope you have as much fun reading them as we have publishing each one! Also, to build community we love sharing members’ recipes in newsletters, too! If you have a tried-and-true or heirloom recipe you’d like to share for one or more of the veggies, please share away!
Never heard of Community Supported Medicine shares before?
Prepare to be amazed! Unique to our cooperative’s CSA program is our Community Supported Medicine share (CSM). LFFC member farmer Lancaster Farmacy is proud to offer the freshest Certified Organic herbal medicine. Knowledgeably grown by trained herbalists and harvested, and prepared, with care right here in Lancaster County, PA. With the CSM share, Lancaster Farmacy, works to support our bioregion and enable all living beings access to health through food and herbs by growing their own herbal medicine and restoring natural healing traditions.
This monthly share is one of the most anticipated and heralded deliveries within our own staff and also our members! Each month we excitedly receive this CSM share which includes 3-5 items (more on this to follow!) as well as a handmade newsletter explaining the history and use of each of the share’s contents—a coveted piece of art itself! In addition to the newsletter, CSM share contents include a variety of hand-crafted organic herbal products. You can expect tonics to aid digestion or detox, skin healing salves, therapeutic skin oils with fresh infusions, fresh or dried beneficial tea blends, an occasional dried or fresh herb, and even herbal bath salts to soak in. Like any of our shares at LFFC, the CSM, too, is variable by season. Enjoy!
Will fruit be included?
Fruit is not typically included in our vegetable shares; however, when in abundance, it may be included as an item in some of our vegetable shares. For example, if our farmers have a surplus of watermelons, veggie share members may receive a watermelon in their vegetable share.
One of our most popular shares is the fruit share which typically begins the 6th week of the summer season. Those who have purchased the fruit share will receive 2-3 fruit types or value-added fruit products in each weekly share delivery. Fruit types are also wholly dependent on our region’s weather patterns, late spring yields sweets like cherries, strawberries, rhubarb (we argue this is a fruit for fruit’s sake!) blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Yum!
As the temperatures rise and the season progresses so does the life stage of melons! Prepare to be delighted by canary melons, French heirloom cantaloupes, seedless watermelons, yellow watermelons, and other exciting heirloom varieties!
Like usual, what goes up must come down—including temperatures—typically right around the time we’re ready! As those summer temperatures cool, the fruit shares begin changing, too. We begin receiving grapes, kiwi berries (one of our favorites), pears and apples all sourced from our farmers and partners—both local and regional. Fruits are either Certified Organic or raised with the environment and consumer-sensitive Integrated Pest Management (IPM) standard. Periodically, if need be, fresh fruit will be substituted by locally prepared items like our famous applesauce, fruit butters, and jams. Sweet!
Integrated Pest Management? IPM, what?
In our Mid-Atlantic region, tree fruit is extremely difficult to grow organically. With notice, some of the fruit you receive in your fruit share will be grown using an IPM program. An Integrated Pest Management is an approach of four different categories that are often described as a continuum. The four parts to an IPM growers’ program are a) when to decide to take action as the sighting of one pest doesn’t require immediate action; b) after a pest is sighted, the farmer needs to monitor and identify the pest; c) practice pest prevention which may mean crop rotation and other natural methods; and d) utilizing a means of control which may include a use of pheromones to deter the identified pests, or, if natural pesticides have been deemed ineffective, then using a synthetic pesticide that is least harmful to people and the environment.
How does the price of a CSA share compare to shopping at the grocery store?
Conventionally grown produce that is available at the grocery store is sometimes less expensive than purchasing Certified Organic produce from LFFC. However, there are many “hidden costs” associated with conventionally grown produce. This produce is heavily treated with chemicals and increasingly genetically modified, negatively affecting our environment and our health. Certified Organic produce that is available at the grocery store is far more expensive than purchasing Certified Organic produce from LFFC. This produce is often marked up 50 to 150%, and much of it isn’t even local! Because the CSA model connects consumers directly with farmers, the price of each item in a share is comparable to wholesale pricing.
Will there be a small veggie share for Summer 2016?
Instead of offering 4 veggies in the small veggie share, we will be offering more veggies through our online store giving members options in the season’s variety. You’ll have your choice in an abundance of summer’s fresh veggies, giving you the freedom to choose what suits you for the week. This is a great way to support your local farms while also ensuring you’re only getting the vegetables that are convenient to your needs. Alternatively, if you enjoy getting a mixed bounty of your farmers harvest, the Medium and Large shares are available and will continue to be the best way to support your local organic farms while getting a great deal in weekly produce.