Give a gift that keeps on giving this year with subscriptions for Alabama-grown meats, vegetables, fruit, eggs, and honey.
Farmers across Alabama offer shares of their harvest through Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscriptions, while state meat producers tend to sell in bulk with processed sides or offer quantities of retail cuts and sausages through butcher boxes.
CSA subscriptions are a great way to support your favorite local small family farmer while getting the best food that’s grown nearby. You pay ahead, providing the farmers much-needed up-front money for the crop. In return, you get a share of the week’s harvest. A “share” generally lasts 10-12 weeks. Delivery can be arranged, but most farms have pick-up spots in the state’s population centers.
The CSA concept, introduced to the United States in the mid-1980s, is a step above shopping at a pop-up farmers market. CSA members get the best of what gets picked, and a bumper crop means bonus food in your prepaid box. (Of course, the opposite is true when the weather or other factors cause a poor harvest.)
When buying a cow or pig by the half- or quarter-carcass from Alabama meat farmers, you have some control over how it’s processed into chops, steaks, ground meat, and other uses.
Subscription meat boxes often follow themes – grilling, holiday dinner, tailgating – or focus on a particular animal or cut. Most also sell individual packages of steaks, chops, sausages, or other cuts.
Many of these farms also sell their products at nearby farmers’ markets. But a CSA is think-ahead grocery shopping. Availability is limited, and some of the more popular programs sell out quickly. If the farm is out of stock, gift cards allow you to give now, and sign up when replenished.
Inquire with your favorite farmer, or check out some of these CSA programs around the state:
Lovelight Farm in Shelby County is a Certified Naturally Grown farm that grows more than four dozen varieties of vegetables, fruit, peppers, and herbs. Its CSA includes full (April-October), and seasonal options for baskets. Pick up at designated locations.
Seasons in the Sun farm in Baldwin County allows CSA clients to sign up at any time during the season. Weekly boxes include vegetables, fruit, herbs, and “surprise” items including baked goods. Boxes include eggs when available and cut flowers periodically.
Snow’s Bend Farm near Coker offers home delivery to the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham for an additional fee, along with designated drop-off spots in those areas. Spring or fall subscriptions are available; full year general runs from mid-April through Thanksgiving. Additional salad or flower add-on options are available.
Bois d’Arc Farm, better known as BDA, specializes in beef, pork, and lamb raised on pasture using regenerative practices. The Essentials subscription boxes provide varied cuts periodically – every other week, monthly, or every two weeks. Bulk boxes – ground beef, cuts, sausages, lamb, or a pork-beef mix – are available. Free shipping for orders above $199.
Fatima Farm near Huntsville use regenerative practices to raise animals. CSA subscriptions include chicken, pork, beef, and lamb. Egg subscriptions are an option. Pick up is at the farm in Hazel Green; labor shortages forced it to drop offsite delivery locations for the 2023 CSAs.
Heritage Hills Farmstead near Cullman sells gift cards, custom mixed-meat bulk boxes, shares of pork (half-carcasses), or grass-grazed beef (wholes, halves, and quarters). Individual cuts and poultry also are available. Meat can be shipped or picked up at the farm.
Purely Pastured Farm near Foley pasture-raises chickens (for meat and eggs), pork, and seasonal turkey. Buy pork by the whole, half, or quarter animal, or bundle boxes with sausages, for grilling, or with breakfast favorites. Gift cards are available.
Trinity Farms in Lowndes County raises grass-fed and naturally finished Angus beef, and pork raised on non-GMO feed. Custom and standard processing is available for beef and pork sides and quarters. Individual cuts, when available, are sold online. No subscriptions.