Selecting a CSA

PACSAC hosts a directory of CSA farms that serve Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties. Take a look at the tips below to help you decide what is most important to you about CSA. Use the directory and other resources to compare farms and find the one that matches your needs and interests. To become a member of a farm or sign up for a share, contact the farm directly. Questions? Email us.

Connect to Local CSAs

  • The PACSAC Directory lists CSA farms that provide food to Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties.
  • Local Harvest is a resource for finding CSA farms and other sources of local food anywhere in the country. You can search for farms by name or by zip code.
  • Farm Finder can help you find a CSA in Washington or Oregon along with other farm direct purchasing opportunities.
  • Oregonsnapcsa.com lists CSA farms that accept Oregon Trail cards/SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits as payment for CSA shares.

Is CSA right for you?

CSA is a wonderful way to connect with the freshest seasonal produce and local farms. People join CSAs for many reasons: to eat the freshest produce available, to educate children (and themselves!) about where food comes from, to improve health, and more. Before joining a CSA, think about what draws you to CSA, and what you want from the experience. Here are some qualities we have found help people get the most out of their CSA:

  • You have an interest in cooking – Chef skills are not required, but many vegetables require some preparation and time in the kitchen. Many farms provide recipes and suggestions, especially if including items that might be unfamiliar.
  • You already eat several meals containing vegetables each week – If you are already a vegetable eater, the shift to seasonal eating through CSA is a simple step.
  • You’re open to trying new vegetables – Sorrel, kohlrabi, celeriac anyone? A great benefit of a CSA is the chance to try unfamiliar vegetables along with tomatoes, squash and other vegetables you might be more familiar with.
  • You know you should or you’ve been told you need to eat more vegetables – It is so much easier to learn to love vegetables when they are so fresh, usually picked the day you get them. They’ll also last much longer in your fridge.

Of course, these things are not requirements for joining a CSA. We offer them as ways of thinking about how CSA might change or challenge the way you eat now.

Find Your Farm

Now that you’ve decided CSA is right for you, here are some things to consider to help you find the farm that is right for your household. The PACSAC directory and farm websites should provide most of this information along with examples of what will be grown during the season.

  • Size of the weekly box – Share sizes range greatly. Some are designed for single people, some for two to three people, others for large families.
  • Length of season – From 18 weeks to 50, different farms offer different options for seasonal eating. A few distribute year round; some only operate in the winter.
  • Share distribution days, times and locations – Does the farm drop off shares at a place and time that is easy for you to get to on a weekly basis?
  • Experience – Some farmers have more than twenty years of experience and some are just getting started. Joining a new farm will most likely be a rewarding experience, but all CSA memberships come with the risk that goes along with the unpredictable nature of farming.
  • Add-ons – For additional cost, some farms offer eggs, meat, flowers, coffee, honey, ice cream or other items.
  • Growing practices – Some farms are certified organic, some use sustainable growing methods, and some are conventional.

Contacting the farmers and asking questions about the farm, growing practices, history, etc. provides valuable information about the food you are considering signing up for and the farm you are considering supporting. You can also ask to speak with existing CSA members to get a sense of what their experiences have been. Some farms offer open houses or farm days. Farms are busy places. Always contact a farm first to ask about visiting.

About CSAs and Risk

Weather, pests and disease can all have negative effects on farming, and as a CSA member you will share in some of the risks farmers face in their jobs. The diversity of CSA farms means that even if one crop fails, there is often something else that can take the place of that item in the share. Farmers want to stay in business and do their best to provide you with the best produce available. In more than twenty years of CSA in the greater Portland area, only three farms have failed during the growing season. PACSAC cannot guarantee any farm or the amount of produce from CSA farms. We strive to educate about both the rewards and risks of CSA membership so that you can make informed decisions.