Boston,  Cooking

A summer with Siena Farms CSA

This year we signed up for a CSA box because it had always been my one true dream to have a bunch of vegetables handed to me to deal with as I could muster. My friend offered to split a Siena Farms weekly box which was perfect because it took me two weeks to make my way through all of them every time. 

Siena Farms must be the biggest, loveliest, and ritziest csa in the Boston area. They have over 500 members and their CSA program comprise 3/4 of their income. The rest is made up by their farmers market appearances and their year round retail space in the South End. Their vegetables are often the most beautiful at the market with colors, varieties, and tastes that you won’t see on other tables. Consequently their prices are higher, a 12 week csa box costs $550 or $46 a week.

(a sample box from September:)

And last week they held a thank-you party and tour of the farm for all their members.

My favorite part of the csa was the weekly emails that recapped the week at the farm, showed photos of the harvest, and recommended uses for all the vegetables in the box. Sometimes I really couldn’t believe the amount of work it had taken to get the vegetables to my table. The planting, the re-planting, the harvesting, the washing…it was amazing.

Visiting the farm was even cooler—to see the enormous fields of carrots, or long rows of mixed greens that I usually receive packed up neatly in bursting plastic bags.

The farmer’s wife is chef Ana who runs Oleana and Sofra, Cambridge middle eastern/Mediterranean inspired restaurant and cafe respectively, that specialize in warm atmosphere with flavors you’ve probably never encountered before. She writes remarks on the week’s vegetables and includes recipes in the email. I loved getting ideas straight from a wonderfully skilled chef like that.

Lux got a lot of “this little guy loves his carrot!” remarks. What can I say, most of the good warm stuff is “boy” themed! But it’s all hair length anyway, if she had longer hair peaking out under that cap everyone would find her adorable.

After touring the fields and grow house, we gathered back to have carrot soup with greek yogurt, hot dogs, and nibble on baguettes spread with Sofra toppings. A bonfire was started in one corner, and wine was abundant. There was a line of people waiting to sign-up for next year’s boxes.

If you are considering signing up for 2013, their prices are much better before November 1st. If you love to cook but don’t live close to the big farmers markets, or don’t have time to shop for produce during the week, I recommend it. The vegetables are so fresh that they keep easily for two weeks in your fridge. This year they are launching a full year share, 48 weeks of CSA! If you sign-up by November 1st, it’s $1600 instead of $2000.


  • Allison L

    I have always wanted to do a CSA but we were a little late jumping in this year so we didn’t end up signing up. there are some great CSAs here in the Boston area! That is good to know that prices are lower in Nov. I may look around here and see if that is the case here too. I want to find one that lets you do pick your own as part of the CSA (I think appleton farms in Ipswich does that).

    • Rachael Ringenberg

      Well said, Boston does have loads of great options! It’s really hard to choose, I think, other than the convenience of where they drop off. And I think the pick-your-own is the best! Especially when it comes to herbs.. Because we live downtown, I’m actually not going to do one next year, even though I liked it so much. The farmer’s markets just offer so much, I want to get to know all the tables.

  • Hannah

    Oh my, what a lovely CSA! Our current CSA has been great, with charming emails from the farmer every week with recipes and tips. We tend to get an abundance of kale/chard (is that just an Indiana thing?), which I love but Snuggles hates. Have you checked out the book “Simply in Season”? We use it nearly every night during CSA season. It’s organized by season, and lists the main veggies used in a recipe along the edge of the page. I highly recommend it.

    I must admit- by the middle of October, I’m ready for the CSA to end. I feel guilty about the stray veggies we couldn’t use up that are going bad in the fridge. I always find myself throwing, “And I let all those radishes go to waste!” at the end of my mental list of my maternal/wifely short comings.

    • Rachael Ringenberg

      I totally know what you mean, that need to accomplish. To its enormous credit, Siena Farms was careful about the kale. (Though the drought was much easier on MA than IN.) But I did read a great thought once—a woman said she would rather have to throw vegetables out than not have plenty around the house for easy eating.
      And simply in season! We must have gotten 5 copies of that as a wedding gift. It’s a good one, though I’d love to know what your favorites are.

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