Farm & Garden

Montalbano Farms CSA: It’s Not Too Late!

May 13 2014 - 9:00 AM

Farmers markets are opening across the city this month, and after a never-ending winter, such signs of spring life are more than welcome.

For many Chicagoans, these trips to the market aren’t just a chance for some fresh air, but constitute a major part of the week’s grocery shopping. Market stalls stock seasonal, locally-made produce and products, and are manned by the very people who grow and care for the food; there are few better opportunities to talk to – and support – independent farmers and crafters.

Montalbano_Farms_SignBeyond the stalls, though, there is another way to support a farm. Purchasing a community-supported agriculture (CSA) share helps a farm get an infusion of cash early in season – when it’s most needed – and then provides you with a steady supply of produce, week-in and week-out.

If you are looking to get in on the fun, there is still time! One of the best programs in the area is the CSA share run by Montalbano Farms in nearby Sandwich, IL. Farming team Rob Montalbano and Christina Goy have been hitting markets around the city for several years now, but in 2014 are switching to a CSA-only model instead of staffing the stalls. In order to break even, though, the farm needs a few dozen more customers. It’s the CSA share I have subscribed to for the last few years and it offers many great features for everyone from the bachelor studio-dweller to the family of eight.

Custom Shares
First, Montalbano offers custom shares, solving the most common CSA complaint,… “Kale again!?!” Don’t want lettuce? No problem. Got gazpacho on the brain? Pick out eight pounds of tomatoes.

Rather than receiving a fixed box of whatever the farm is trying to get rid of, Montalbano offers up their inventory and lets customers pick. Money in your account can be spent as you see fit — double up on weeks when the offerings look especially good or skip deliveries altogether if you know you’ll be out of town. The indecisive or adventurous need not despair, though; there is always an option to let the farm construct a mixed case for you.

Farmer Rob

Long Season
Second, Montalbano’s CSA shares extend over one of the city’s longest seasons from mid-June to Thanksgiving. Spring greens, summer watermelons, autumn squashes and all-season herbs let you experience the full variety the Midwest has to offer.

Flexible Commitment
As another great feature, Montalbano lets customers buy in at several different levels. For those looking to just augment their normal grocery shopping, the Bronze Level at $325 buys earns you 1/3 of a bushel (about half a grocery bag) for 16 weeks, while those going all in at the Gold Level can get an average of more than a bushel (about two grocery bags) for 24 weeks at $1185. In my house — two folks who try hard but live across the street from a pretty good pizzeria – we get by very well in between at Silver for $645.

And, if you prepay the full amount for the year, Montalbano will add some bonus cash to your account.

Convenient Pick-Up

Finally, there are nearly two dozen pick-up locations across the Chicagoland area, including nine in the city itself. Different days and different times allow you to find a site that works best, and each order is picked and packed fresh before delivery.

Montalbano_Farms_Martha

If you are interested in signing up, check the site for details, or contact Rob and Christina directly to chat. Both are always ready to talk about their passion and the produce!

All photos courtesy of Montalbano Farms Facebook page. From top to bottom: Montalbano at the Logan Square Farmers Market, the Montalbano Farms sign, Farmer Rob tending the fields, and Martha driving the tractor.

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