Sick of your Trader Joe’s produce going bad two days post-purchase? Want to eat more sustainably, but don’t have the time or energy to think about it? Scared because the president-elect doesn’t believe in climate change, and you want to do something to help the environment? Look no further, The Farmbox Collective is here to provide delicious, fresh, local and organic produce to UCSB students every week!
Inspired by a class she took in the environmental studies department, Kate Columbus, a third-year sociology major, took it upon herself to bring a Community Supported Agriculture program to UCSB which is customizable for UCSB students, staff and faculty. The Farmbox Collective, a CSA program operating in the Goleta and Santa Barbara areas, is now available at the Gaucho Certified Farmers Market every Wednesday.
Traditionally, CSA programs are run by a single farm; you commit to purchasing a box of fruits and veggies from that farm every week for an entire season. The boxes are filled with the produce that is in season and ready for harvest at that time, making each week a lovely surprise. Now it’s your chance to be your very own “Chopped” Champion.
What makes The Farmbox Collective so unique compared to other CSA programs? Columbus says, “It’s unique in the sense that for most CSAs, you pay $200 for the season and it only comes from that farm and you can’t change it.This CSA is different because it’s a collective, so there are farmers from Carpinteria, Ojai and all around Santa Barbara. People can pick and choose what they want in their box and have the option to change it on the website.”
This CSA is different because it’s a collective, so there are farmers from Carpinteria, Ojai and all around Santa Barbara. People can pick and choose what they want in their box and have the option to change it on the website.
As Kate went on this endeavor to bring a CSA program to the farmers market, she took into consideration the needs of her fellow college students. The farmers market location is the newest addition to The Farmbox Collective.
“This location is neat because I worked out a deal with Kristi Curtis, who started The Farmbox Collective. For everywhere else but here, the CSA is way more expensive. I told her that students aren’t going to pay more than $20 for groceries, so we negotiated down to $16 with a $2 fee that goes towards the market itself.”
The Farmbox Collective also allows you to put your box on hold if you’ll be out of town, and you can choose to be billed every week or over a different number of weeks.
The boxes are also customizable; you can replace that delicate squash with some colorful chard or swap your potatoes for some more fresh fruit instead. Because everything is freshly harvested, your bounty will stay good in your fridge for a longer time than the produce that was shipped to Albertson’s from all over the world.
“You get about six to seven items, and it’s all local, organic and seasonal. It comes with one leafy green like lettuce, and then two or three other vegetables, and a fruit,” Columbus said.
The fruits and veggies are conveniently placed in a tote bag that you can sling over your shoulder as you bike off into the midday rush. Everyone will be swooning over the kale poking out of tote, admiring you as an environmentally conscious member of society (who loves to cook!).
At $18 per student box, this is a fantastic deal for everyone to get their veggies in for the week while supporting local and sustainable agriculture. You can also opt for a slightly bigger family box to share with your housemates for $23 plus a $2 fee.
“The family box feeds two to three people. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian who goes through a ton of veggies, it’s a pretty good deal,” Columbus said. “So far everyone I’ve talked to loves it!”
Joining a CSA is a perfect way to do your part to help the environment while getting delicious and nutritious benefits in return. Large-scale factory farms ruin the land, encroach on indigenous communities, pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and utilize intensive human labor. By eating locally and organically, you can help change this cruel system. The CSA at the Gaucho Farmers Market makes it so easy for us Gauchos to do our part. Not to mention, fresh produce is infinitely tastier than the bland, out-of-season stuff at your standard grocery store!
The CSA currently has 17 patrons. The Farmbox Collective is willing to work with you and answer any questions you have in order for you to have the best experience possible, which I can vouch for from chatting with the friendly and helpful Kate Columbus. For more information about the CSA and the farmers market in general, check out their Facebook page! For more information go to thefarmboxcollective.com