faq

 

FAQ slide csa faq

What is a CSA and how does it work?

A CSA is a way to get produce directly from a farmer, as fresh as possible. It stands for community-supported agriculture, and is a mutually beneficial relationship for the consumer (who gets a diversity of super-fresh veggies delivered over a period of months. They’re even ORGANIC– in the case of Tecolote’s CSA) and also for the farmer (who gets paid in the lean winter months part of the cost of the CSA in order to buy seeds, pay workers to plant and weed, and heat the greenhouses before the season begins).

 

 What is the size of the weekly basket, and what comes inside? Amount/examples?

The weekly basket is a beautiful array of 8-12 different seasonal vegetables (and occasionally fruit, such as strawberries, blackberries, and melons and watermelons), artfully filling a half bushel wooden basket. The veggies are enough for a vegetarian household of 2-3 people, or an omnivorous family of 3-5. Many of our customers share their basket weekly with another couple or family in order to not be overwhelmed with vegetable goodness.  The basket is a great value, brimming with vegetables, and no one ever complains that it’s not enough. Check out our facebook page for the latest look at what’s going in our baskets.

How will I know what types of veggies will be in the baskets? Is there an ability to swap veggies out if there is something in particular I can't eat?

We send out an email the day before with what’s in the basket, and we do not swap out veggies. Each customer gets a full mix of what we have that week, as well as a newsletter with cooking ideas. Many of our customers share their basket with another household, so they swap and trade a little amongst themselves.

How long does the CSA season run? What are the dates? What if I start late?

Our spring and summer season runs from 18-20 weeks, typically late March (or early April, in colder years) through early August. If you start after we’ve begun, you should make the minimum payment due. The farm will pro-rate your balance due.

What day of the week do deliveries come?

Deliveries arrive on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays. Each of those days serves a different geographic area. Please see our webpage, “My Delivery Day” for the specifics.

How do I know if there is a delivery hub near me? List of current hubs/how to start a new one?

Please see our webpage, “My Delivery Day” for the hub addresses. Always check with the farm at tecolotefarm@gmail.com and provide your address if you don’t see an appropriate option. There may be new hubs formed which have not yet been added to the website.

How does a hub delivery work? Is it delivered at a certain time and then I can pick up at anytime after that? Do I have to pick it up by a certain time?

A hub may be a residence (front door alcove, screened back porch, inside if host works at home, etc.), or a business (climate-controlled store or office). After the first week or two of our season’s deliveries, the time of arrival is more refined and can be anticipated. We ask customers to pick up their baskets as soon to delivery time as is convenient, in order to keep the produce in its pristine and amazingly fresh condition. They are vegetables, after all, and will not stand up to Texas summer heat.  In the case of customers needing to pick up the basket after work, we recommend a hub which has air-conditioning.

How do I return the basket for more veggies next week?

Some customers arrive to their CSA hubs with bags or other containers into which they transfer their bounty. This keeps the basket return a non-issue.  However, Tecolote’s wooden CSA baskets are aesthetically pleasing, so many customers prefer to take the basket home with them from the hub.  In that case, they simply return their empty baskets to the hub EVERY week when they return to the hub to pick up a full basket. Late-returned baskets cost $2 to the farm, and wet, damaged or lost baskets incur a $4 replacement charge.

What if there isn’t a hub near me?

We deliver to most edges of the City of Austin. If your neighborhood is not yet on our route, we will find the nearest hub convenient to your work, home, or daily routes. Additionally, we welcome our basketeers to post our CSA availability to their neighborhood email lists, HOA listservs, community newsletters, bulletin boards, workplace newsletters, etc. When a group of 5 or more is ready to begin, we can start a new hub, assuming it is within a reasonable range of our existing routes.

Does someone need to be home at the time of delivery?

We can deliver to your home or a hub even when you’re on an errand, at work, sleeping, on vacation, or swimming at Barton Springs! So long as someone is planning to tend to the vegetables asap, it’s fine if no one is home.  Some customers leave out an ice chest with a couple ice packs inside, and we will transfer your vegetables to the cooler for no additional charge.

What happens if I am out of town on a delivery day or week? Can I schedule my delivery to skip a week?

A CSA is a continuous delivery program, thanks to the ways of Mother Nature giving us “hay while the sun shines”. Due to having planned our crops on our CSA membership numbers, we need to continue deliveries through the 18-20 week season. Here are a couple of options: 1. We we will donate your basket to a needy family if you tell us not to deliver one week.  2. CSA members can find a home for their vegetables while they are away; for instance, pay the housesitter with produce, ask a friend or relative to enjoy the bounty as a gift,  or offer it as a one-time “trial” to an acquaintance, kind of like subletting your apartment!)

Can I purchase more of certain veggies?

Being a CSA member gives you special access to certain on-farm events made available to our farm members either first, or sometimes exclusively. For instance, when we have bumper crops of tomatoes, CSA members get first offering for u-pick tomato days at highly discounted prices. When our okra or pickling cucumber or tomato “seconds” are going gangbusters, we will offer discounted pricing on large bulk orders of them, to be delivered with your CSA basket and labeled with your name on them.

Where can I get more Tecolote goodness? Farmers Markets?

Our produce is found on the menus of some of the best restaurants our food-centric city of Austin has to offer. Visit our Partners page to find out where Tecolote Farm’s organic, specialty produce can be found.  Additionally, in the CSA off-season, or during the season when you just need extra of something, we can be found at the Cedar Park Farmers Market (at Lakeline Mall) and the Sustainable Food Center Downtown Market (4th and Guadalupe, at Republic Square Park), both on Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm. Also on Saturday, the Sunset Valley Farmers Market (at the Toney Burger Center) has traditionally been one of our haunts. Look for a new regular presence of Tecolote Farm at the Mueller Farmers Market on Sundays sometime in summer 2015!!

This is a lot of food! Can I change the size of my basket?

We like to make our CSA shares plentiful, abundant, interesting and diverse. A little share might not accomplish that goal. We have kept our quality high, our prices low, and our CSA community eating together for years through offering just one size CSA basket. How does that make sense, you may ask. By streamlining our system, our prices stay low. By sharing a CSA basket, our customers share their healthy-tasty-food-love with more friends! Over a third of our basketeers “share their share” and divide the veggies up with a basket-sharing partner. We’ve seen friendships develop over basket-sharing time, and more than one happy hour got happier as a result. There are a variety of ways to split up your shared CSA share. Here are just a few:

  1. Each partner gets the whole basket every other week. (pro: easy; con: you won’t each taste every single item over the season’s course)
  2. Divide it up evenly each week (pro: you each get to try everything; con: it takes a little time, and some things are big and whole, like melons or butternut squash)
  3. Divide it up each week depending on what you each like (pro: you each get only what you like; con: harder to determine what’s even or fair)

How do I store and care for these gorgeous veggies?

We send out a newsletter via email the day of your delivery with descriptions, tips, and storage information. Because our produce is so much fresher than anything you could find at the grocery store, luckily, you’ll find it lasts much longer than store-bought. The shortest farm-to-table time imaginable is the beauty of a CSA. Another bonus is that vitamin and nutrient levels in produce are highest when closest to the time of harvest. Your body will feel the difference eating this way!

 

Whoa! I have never heard of some of the items in my basket. It’s like a produce safari in here, and I love it! Any tips on how to cook and enjoy some of the lesser known basket goodies?

The beauty of that safari ride is that as you learn to navigate the new veggie jungle, you’ll enjoy a new spontaneity in the kitchen that will make eating and cooking fun and adventurous again. Like falling in love… Like a good matchmaker, we’ll guide the process, though! The newsletter will have recipes, simplest cooking ideas, links to good recipe websites, etc.  We are expanding the section on tips, ideas, suggestions, and recipes on our website as well.

 

 

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farm faq

How long has the farm been around?

More than 20 years! Tecolote Farm is a pioneer of organic farming in Central Texas. We purchased the land from a dairy operation in 1993, and began delivering CSA shares in 1994. Prior to that we grew produce in central coastal California and Alaska.

Who runs the farm, anyway? Do farm fairies or garden gnomes grow this delicious kale?

We wish those wee elves would lend a hand now and then, but luckily we find enthusiastic helping hands every year to keep the Tecolote Veggie Train running smoothly. Our Farm Crew consists of a number of year-to-year farmers, and also of seasonal workers coming to learn the ancient and ever-important trade of growing food. The application to join our crew is listed under the page “Farm Crew”.  David Pitre is the jefe around the farm with the superhuman farming gene, while wife and partner-in-production, Katie Kraemer, holds the reins on marketing, sales, harvest counts, partnerships, and the calendar.

Where is the farm located?

Tecolote Farm is conveniently cradled in the comfortingly fertile Blackland Prairie, just east of the city limits. Our original home farm consists of 65 acres of cropland, improved pasture, and woods, and is graciously bisected by the perennial Decker Creek. Due to water shortages beginning in 2007, it was necessary for us to expand our cropland to an area with a more abundant groundwater source. We also have a small farm in Bastrop County along the banks of the Colorado River where we now enjoy a sandy loam soil as well. With a variety of soils to choose from, we are able to grow different crops in the ground best suited for taste, texture, sweetness, and growth form.

 

Still have questions? Contact us by email here

Many thanks to Keeshi + Photo and Twisted String for their photography contributions