- Is everything organically grown?
- How and when do I pick up my share?
- What if I cannot come on my regular pick-up day?
- What is the Make-Up Share or Deferred Share?
- How much food is in a share?
- What is a unit?
- How does fruit figure into my share?
- What is a Swap Box?
- Do I need to pay for my share all at one time?
- May I come with my family to see and participate in activities at the farm?
- What are the Farm Rules for visitors?
- May I volunteer to help at the farm?
- May I harvest some crops for myself?
- Are there special events for members?
- What is seasonal eating?
- Is CSA seasonal eating right for my lifestyle?
- How much does a share cost?
- Can I buy products from the farm even if I am not a CSA member?
- What is Dwolla?
- What is Farm Market style?
1. Is everything organically grown?
We grow all of our vegetables, following organic principles, without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or sewage sludge. We use crop rotation, cover crops and compost to enrich our soil so it will support a teeming soil biology that, in turn, supports healthy plants. We use the term “naturally grown” to describe our sustainable growing practices.
In our orchards, we practice IPM (Integrated Pest Management). We choose to apply cultural techniques where possible, allowing us to minimize the number of sprays needed per crop. We monitor special traps baited with a pheromone lure to determine if we have an insect infestation that might concern us and harm the crop. This helps us determine the best timing to apply a control e.g., spray), if need be. When we find it necessary to spray, materials are selected on the basis of efficacy, safety and minimal impact to the environment. We might choose to spray an organic material or, if deemed necessary, a non-organic material. We regularly apply sprays of organic nutrients along with application of our own compost to the base of the trees to enhance the health of the trees and minimize insect and disease issues.
At this time, we have chosen not to seek organic certification. We feel that the trust in, knowledge of, and access to the farmers who grow your food makes certification an unneeded expense at present. Why pay for something you don’t need? Unlike the grocery store, if you have questions about our growing practices, you can just ask us directly. And you can come to the farm to see exactly where and how your food is grown. We’ll show you LIVE soil, a beautiful, and rare sight these days!
2. How and when do I pick up my share?
When you are filling out your online membership registration, you will be asked to select the location and day you will pick up your share. Full share and mini share members pick up weekly. Bi-weekly share members will pick up every other week. You will receive an email reminder the night before your pickup. Here are the details:
Vollmecke Orchards Location
Come to the farm on the day of the week that you selected, either Tuesday or Friday. Pick up time is between 3:00 and 7:00pm.
We suggest that you bring your own box or bags to pack your produce. Shares will be “Farm Market Style” which means you will pack your own share by choosing from the bulk containers in the Share Shed. Often we will have a choice between several kinds of produce; this allows you to customize your share to fit your needs. A chalk board will list the week’s produce and the amount of each item that belongs in your share.
A few crops will be designated as PYO (Pick-Your-Own), such as cut flowers, blackberries, red raspberries and peas.
Pick up Site (Non-Co-op)
This year the bottling room in Downingtown is a pick up location. We will pre-pack your share in either a CSA shsare box or a tote bag. Please either off-load your produce or bring your box/bag back the following week. A swap box will be provided so you can trade produce items if you wish.
If you will be picking up your share at one of our co-op locations, you will find your share awaiting you, pre-packed in a plastic share crate (or a bright green market bag if you ordered a Mini Share). We re-use these crates and bags and have a limited quantity of them. We ask that you pack your share items into your own bags at the site (Mini Share bags can be returned the following week). When you first arrive, sign-in, then check the “What’s In My Share” sheet. Often we have a choice of produce. If you see a choice on this list, know that 1/2 the boxes are packed with one item, and the other 1/2 contains the other choice. There is a Swap Box at each site. This allows you to swap one item from your share with one of equal value from the Swap Box.
Plan on visiting the farm when PYO crops are available. These will be announced in the weekly reminders.
3. What if I cannot come on my regular pick-up day?
Harvesting takes place according to the number of members expected on a given day. If you cannot come, send a friend or relative and make sure they know about pick-up time and procedures. However, if this isn’t possible, we have a way to make sure that you don’t miss out on your share–a Make-Up, or Deferred Share (see below). If you are going to miss a pickup date, email the farm ahead of time (at least 2 days if possible) to defer your missed pickup. This will allow you to pick up a share at the end of the main CSA season. If you forget and do miss a week, your share will not be wasted—it will be donated to a family in need, a lucky neighbor, or a local shelter.
4. What is the Make-Up share or Deferred Share?
If you know you are going to be away and will miss your pickup day, you can opt to defer one pickup (per CSA season) to the end of the season–usually the first week in November. To take advantage of this feature you will need to email the farm ahead of time (so we don’t harvest and pack a share for you). At the end of the season, you will get an email reminding you to come pick up your share on the designated day. The contents of the deferred share will obviously be different than what you may have missed out on in June or July, but this is a great way to make sure you don’t miss out on any of your shares!
- Weekly Share (WS) – $855. 8–12 units, picked up weekly, 22 share distributions per season. We have designed the weekly share to feed two adults with two young children, or two adults who really like their fruits and vegetables.
- Bi-Weekly Share (BWS) – $435. 8–12 units, picked up every other week,11 share distributions per season. We have designed this share option for two adults who consume a moderate amount of fruits and vegetables or two adults and two children who want to enjoy fresh local produce but only cook a few nights a week. This share is the same size as the weekly share, but picked up every other week. Because our produce is so fresh, most of what you bring home will last for two weeks as long as it is properly stored.
- Mini Share (MS) – $340. 4–5 units, picked up weekly , 22 share distributions per season. This share is designed for a single person, a couple that doesn’t cook very frequently, or a family who wants to get their feet wet in the world of CSA. This option is available for pickup on a weekly basis only.
Here is a typical example of what might be included in a week’s share during different times of the season:
Note: Quantities are approximate and will vary from week to week.
Typical Early Season Full/Bi-Weekly Share:
- Pea Tendrils: 1 bunch
- English Garden Peas: 1lb.
- Snow Peas: ¾ lb.
- Spinach: ¾ lb.
- Green Onions: 1 bunch
- Bok choi: 1 large or 2 baby
- Lettuce: 1 or 2 heads
- Apple Mint: 1 bunch
- Asparagus: .85 lb
Typical Mid-Season Full/Bi-Weekly Share:
- Peaches: approx. 3 lbs.
- Swiss Chard: 1 bunch
- Peppers: 3
- Green Beans: ¾ lb.
- Beets: 1 bunch
- Melons: 1 cantaloupe or specialty melon
- Summer Squash: 2
- Red tomatoes: 3 lbs.
- Sweet corn: 6 ears
- Herbs: 1 bunch
- Cucumbers: 2
- Eggplant: 1 lb.
Note: PYO blackberries & raspberries available at a special membership price.
Typical Late Season Full/Bi-Weekly Share:
- Apples: approx. 3 lbs.
- Tomatoes: 1 lb.
- Cabbage: 1 head or Kale: ¾ lb.
- Parsnips: 1 lb.
- Carrots: 1 lb.
- Herbs: 1 bunch
- Peppers: 3
- Onions: 1/2 lb.
- Garlic: 1 bulb
- Winter Squash: 1 or 2
- Potatoes: 1 qt.
- Apple cider: 1/2 gallon
Remember: Farming is both dynamic and unpredictable. Extreme weather conditions such as a late or early frost, too much or too little rain, rain at the wrong time or a hail storm, may interfere or alter crop quality and availability. Being a CSA member means sharing in the risks as well as the bounty. Nevertheless, be assured that even in the most challenging of years, we will work hard to provide you with quality produce. The farm’s investment in greenhouse, irrigation and cooling facilities and our co-operative production with a few neighboring farms greatly reduces the risk to members and farmers alike.
6. What is a unit of produce?
What constitutes a unit varies according to the season. A unit could be a bunch of beets, a head of lettuce, a quart of potatoes, or 3 tomatoes one week, a quart of tomatoes another, or 5 lbs on yet another week—it all depends on what is ripe for picking and able to be harvested. Typically, our greens are in 3/4 lb bunches, similar to, or slightly larger, than what you find in most grocery stores.
7. How Does Fruit Figure Into My Share?
We grow both fruits and vegetables at our farm. Fruit is included in the cost of our shares. Cantaloupes usually begin ripening the middle of July; watermelons in August and early September; peaches are going strong in August; and September and October is apple time. When in season, members can pick their own red raspberries and blackberries at a nominal fee.
We do not grow strawberries and our blueberries are not yet bearing fruit, but we are sometimes able to get some of these fruits from our local grower friends and offer them for sale on CSA pick-up day. Each fruit has its season — when there is an abundance you can plan on seeing it included in your share. There are times when there just isn’t enough for everyone, so we offer smaller quantities for sale to those who wish to purchase or supplement their share.
8. What is a Swap Box ?
A “swap box” is provided at each pick-up site to give members the ability to customize their share. If there is something you are not crazy about, you can exchange for one item of equal value. For example, you might trade your cabbage for spinach, or trade a bunch of beets for an extra melon.
We often experiment with growing new crops or varieties of crops, so the swap box will sometimes contain items not found in the weekly share. This offers interesting share options, and an opportunity to try something new! We ask that members be fair to those members who will come later in the day by exchanging items of like value.
9. Do I need to pay for my share all at one time?
Although we encourage lump sum payment to keep our administrative costs down, we do offer payment plans. See Sign up Now! for details.
10. May I come with my family to see and participate in activities at the farm?
Yes. We encourage participation and realize that seeing where your food comes from is a valuable educational opportunity for children as well as for adults. Harvesting and weeding are wonderful ways to participate and work side-by-side with family and other members. We will announce, through email, special working days at the farm.
Special Note: Keep in mind that we are a working farm, and safety is paramount. Proper supervision of children is necessary at all times. To ensure the safety of all visitors please read the Farm Rules (below) and share them with your family and/or fellow visitors.
11. What are the Farm Rules for visitors?
Please be respectful of your surroundings, the animals and other people during your visit. For your safety, we ask that these rules be followed:
- Parents need to supervise their children at all times.
- No rock throwing.
- No chicken, dog or cat chasing.
- No running or playing in the growing fields.
- The pond, farm equipment, and the barn are off-limits.
- Beware of electric fencing around the chicken coop and farm fields—it will give a strong shock.
- Stay out of tall grass and un-mowed areas. There might be poison ivy and ticks in the tall grass.
- Park in designated areas only.
- If you have a question, please ask.
- Have fun.
12. May I volunteer to help at the farm?
We welcome assistance with our work projects from time to time and know that our members enjoy participating. We plan to schedule special work days during the season when member assistance will be most helpful. We will send an e-mail to announce work day dates and times in advance.
13. May I harvest some crops for myself?
Although your share will be pre-harvested, you can always add to your share when Pick-Your-Own crops (PYO) are available for harvest. Items available for PYO vary and will be posted at your pick-up site, and by e-mail announcement. Examples of PYO crops that are included in your share are garden peas and flowers. PYO red raspberries and blackberries will be available at a special member price.
14. Are there special events for members?
We often hold a pre-season Open House that includes a behind the scenes look at the greenhouse, growing fields and orchards. Look for fun and educational happenings during the season. Some of these activities depend on available help.
15. What is seasonal eating?
Seasonal eating means consuming foods that are grown in your local area and eaten when they are just picked (e.g., peas in June, tomatoes in August). This way of eating assures peak flavor and nutrition. It goes without saying that our produce, which only travels from our field to your plate, is going to be fresher and better for you than something that has traveled more than 1,000 miles.
By eating local food in season, you become better attuned to nature and appreciative of its ebbs and flows. Did we have a warm spell in early spring that initiated an early harvest of all the green leafy lettuces and cooking greens? Was it hot or rainy during Spring planting, thus shortening a certain crop harvest?
Eating seasonally means thoroughly enjoying particular fruits or vegetables at their peak. You become so satisfied that it becomes an unworthy compromise to eat something that has been shipped in from some far away place and lacks flavor. As each produce item nears the end of its season, you can choose to let it go until the next year or you might creatively preserve the abundance by canning or freezing to extend your favorite quality produce into another season.
Our philosophy is: Eat and enjoy everything thoroughly while it is in season and then wait until it comes into season again next year. Let your body tune into the rhythms of nature.
16. Is CSA seasonal eating right for my lifestyle?
Picture yourself eating from your own garden at home, then look to the farm as a larger garden, from which you get more varieties of vegetables, as well as fresh fruits and herbs. Seasonal eating from your CSA is simply fresh-from-the-garden eating on a larger scale and with greater diversity.
Here’s an example: Pea season generally lasts for four to five weeks, and includes all varieties like snow peas, sugar snaps and garden peas. They come ready at approximately the same time of year. Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming to a CSA member to have so many different kinds of peas in the share around the same time. Here’s what a seasonal eater will do: assemble a collection of good recipes involving peas, reserve a little time to plan and prepare meals, then perhaps freeze some to use at a later date. Share the adventure of new recipes and new varieties of foods with the family.
If you’ve not eaten from a garden, seasonal eating can take some adjustment. But the rewards of eating things when they’re at peak flavor and nutrition are immeasurable. As a CSA member, you will learn what is currently in season where you live and how long it is available. You will appreciate eating fruits and vegetables while they’re truly fresh, then enjoying the nice memories of each until next year. You move throughout the seasons eating fresh, seasonal foods as they mature for the harvest. This is the adventure of eating well!
As a seasonal eater, your perspective will evolve from “planning a drive to the supermarket to buy ingredients for a specific recipe” to, “Cooking with what you have.” Involving your children in this process can be far less difficult than you think when your own attitude is inclusive. In fact, many of our CSA member children who did not ordinarily eat peas love eating them after helping to pick and shell them.
Simply put, the first year of CSA participation might be more of a challenge for families who often travel, eat out or bring home “take-out” meals, than for families who like to cook at home from scratch. It may take a season or two, but once you get into the swing of CSA seasonal eating, it will be hard to imagine eating in any other way!
17. How much does a share cost?
A full share, meaning 22 weeks of produce is $835 if paid in full. A bi-weekly share, 11 weeks of produce, is $435 if paid in full. Our mini share, 22 weeks, is $340. If you choose a payment plan, administrative fees may be added. Sign up early and get a discount!
18. Can I buy products from the farm even if I am not a CSA member?
Yes! We are open for retail during regular CSA pickup hours, Tuesdays and Fridays from 3:00 – 7:00 pm during the CSA season. Off season (November to May), we are open the first and third Saturdays of the month, from 10:30 am – 12:30 noon. If these times are not convenient for you, just give us a call and we will find a time that works for both of us!
19. What is Dwolla?
Dwolla is a payment network that provides, quick, safe and low-cost online and mobile payments. Instead of charging a minimum or percentage fee, Dwolla charges a flat $0.25 on payments over $10.00. Dwolla helps us by reducing the amount of fees we would otherwise be paying to credit card companies on all online purchases.
If you don’t have a Dwolla account, you can check out as a guest to complete your online order. As a guest, you’ll be able to make a one-time payment directly from your bank or credit union. When you make your payment, Dwolla uses secure connections and the latest encryption standards to ensure that your data is safe as it passes through the Dwolla system. Your financial information is not shared with Vollmecke Orchards.
20. What is Farm Market style?
Farm market style is designed to be similar to shopping at a farmers market. Members will select their own produce from bulk bins, following the guidelines on the whiteboard in the Share Shed each week.