Lancaster CSAs

Community-Supported Agriculture Co-Ops in Lancaster, PA

With the weather turning warmer, my thoughts turn to fresh produce. And with that, CSAs come to mind. A CSA is a program of community-supported agriculture put together by a single farm or by several farms working together, in which non-farming families/individuals can buy shares of whatever is harvested throughout the growing season. Once a week, you go to a designated pickup location, grab a box or two or three stuffed with fresh-grown, fresh-picked vegetables, and take them home to enjoy. By paying for your share up front, you are being more than a consumer. You’re investing in a local farm and the people that run it with their own hands and minds.

Vegetables from a Lancaster CSA
Tomatoes on display at a pickup location for the Goldfinch Farm CSA in Lancaster, PA

People in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, and D.C. go to great lengths to get shares in CSAs from right here in Lancaster County, PA. There is probably nowhere in the world where the opportunities through buy fresh and local, particularly through a CSA, are more abundant.

Here is a list of the Lancaster County-based CSAs that have well-maintained websites with accurate and up-to-date information. In most cases, you can apply for a share this year online. Move quickly, though, because in many cases the first harvests begin this month (April).

I’ve included information on the pickup locations for each CSA, as well as the price of a full share. Please note that comparing prices isn’t apples to apples (so to speak). No two farms grow the same vegetables, and the growing season lengths vary from one farm to the other. Most CSAs in this list offer half shares for a little more than half the price of a full share. Half shares are ideal for individuals or couples with no children.

Most of the produce from these farms are not certified organic but are grown without chemical insecticides or fertilizers.

A few of the community-supported agriculture programs listed here offer “accessory” shares. That is, they sell CSA shares of eggs, fruit, flowers, and even meat.

Have you participated in a CSA before? Was it one listed here? Are there any Lancaster CSA farms missing from this list?

Goldfinch Farm CSA –  $510 for a full non-working share. Working shares are available and include a discount. Pickup locations are on the farm in Wrightsville, in Lancaster city, and west of the city off Columbia Ave.

Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative CSA – A nonprofit organic farmers’ cooperative of fifty member farmers in Lancaster County. $775 for a full share. Half shares, fruit shares, vegetable shares, and medicinal herb shares available.

FirstWatch Farms CSA – Pickup at the farm in Lititz. $530 for a full share. Half-shares and fruit shares (strawberries and blueberries) available.

Wilmer’s Organics CSA – Blue Ball/East Earl pickup location. $850 for a full share. Half shares, flower shares, and egg shares available.

Goodwill at Homefields Farm CSA – Millersville farm and pickup location. $650 for a full share. Half shares available.

Crawford Organics CSA – East Earl and Lititz pickup locations. $775 for a full share. Egg and flower shares available.

Kauffman’s Fruit Farm – Bird-in-Hand. $480 for full share—fruit only.

Breakaway Farms – Manheim. $500 for a full share—meat only.

Buckhill Farm – Lititz. $675 for a full share. Shares for 2010 are sold out.

B&H Organic Produce in Morgantown has canceled its 2010 season.

For a great directory of CSAs around the United States, check out

Lancaster County births in 2008

According to preliminary reports [pdf] from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 7,229 babies were born in Lancaster County in 2008. Only Philadelphia County, Allegheny County, and Montgomery County had more. There were a total of 148,927 births in PA last year, which means that five percent of children born in Pennsylvania last year were born in Lancaster County. August was the month with the most births (677), which I suppose means parents were feeling both festive and pent-up in December 2007.

Here’s a snapshot of the trending of Lancaster County births since 1994.

Lancaster County, PA birth rate, 1994 through 2008
Lancaster County, PA birth rate, 1994 through 2008

The impending death of ‘organization man’

I think we are witnessing the decline of the organization in the United States. I see two primary underlying causes:

  1. The rise of what is essentially an economic noble class
  2. The spreading adoption of social media by individuals

When Alexis de Tocqueville visited the U.S. in the 1830s, he was surprised and amazed by the sheer number of civic and social associations—”religious, moral, serious, futile, general or restricted, enormous or diminutive.” He said they exist and thrive because in a true democracy like America, the equality of all individuals is so consistent that no one person has enough influence to make any large impact on society on his or her own. So, Americans naturally form associations, with the intent that a larger number of citizens can be more effective than any single citizen can be.

This was so notable to Tocqueville because in his home country of France, and elsewhere in Europe, there was no such civic equality. A single nobleman could make a great impact on society of a degree that no ordinary group of ordinary folk could rival.

Things have changed since the 1830s. Loose associations crystallized into formal organizations, thanks in no small part to a Supreme Court (mis)interpretation of the Constitution in 1886 that recognized incorporated entities (which are legal fictions) as “persons” under the law, incentivizing informal, organic groups of people to structure themselves as corporate organizations. With this change, over time the citizen who belonged to associations evolved into the “organization man” identified by William Whyte in 1956.

10% of the population controls 71% of the wealth in the United States.
10% of the population controls 71% of the wealth in the United States.

What’s more, the inequality of wealth in the United States has reached such an extreme that we are now living with an economic ruling class. (See graphic, representing information from the Economic Policy Institute.) Think of how that affects social and civic organizations (we’ll leave aside political associations, as de Tocqueville did in this instance). One person can sponsor, say, an entire season at a performance theater more easily than 90 people working together can. We all know how much work it takes to organize the efforts of 90 people. Why bother, when hooking the right one person would take care of things just as effectively?

I know I’m just scratching the surface of the issue here, and I’m treating it reductively. The point is, at least in monetary terms, it takes a lot of ordinary citizens working together to equal the influence of a single member of the economic noble class. That’s a strong disincentive to associate with the hopes of getting anything done.

Economic inequality, meet social media: But what if it suddenly became a lot easier to form associations? What if a bunch of people could get together for a common purpose without the need for a lot of beaurocracy and a lot of money? It would be a good bet that you would see people disaffected by the inequality of power in our society take another shot at teaming up with their neighbors to do something good.

I think it’s obvious that social media makes these very things a lot easier. To take just one example, who’s in charge of Lancaster tweetups? No one. Is there a set system for organizing them? No. Is there any money behind it? No. But, are they well-attended? Yes. Can anyone initiate one? Yes.

In the face of something as powerful, widespread, and simple as Facebook events and Twitter, and in the face of formal organizations of ordinary citizens having far less power than entrenched individuals and corporations, I think we are beginning to see an important trend. The formal organization, inefficient and impotent, is on its way out. The (extremely) loose association, easy and far-reaching, is on its way back in.

I’ll write more about the effects I anticipate in this new social context. If formal organizations are on the decline, we will still have many organizations among us, but the “organization man”—anyone whose identity is defined by participation in formal organizations—will be a dying breed. One of the most important effects of that I anticipate is that “leadership” will become less important and necessary, and followership will take its place.