Spring is here and we are all ready for some fresh fruits and vegetables! For busy on-the-go workers, students and parents, fresh and affordable produce can be difficult to come by. However, you can now get a box full of delicious goodies delivered straight to your door by utilizing what’s known as a “farm-box subscription.” Farm-box subscriptions offer consumers another way to get their fruits and veggies that doesn’t involve going to the grocery store.

Picture By: Flint Ingredient Company

Unlike Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), which (usually) requires an upfront fee of a couple hundred dollars for 20 weeks of food, farm boxes are a pay-as-you-go weekly subscription that doesn’t have to be from one particular farm, though sometimes they are, and subscriptions can be stopped at any time.

Here in Flint and surrounding communities there are a host of options besides visiting the Flint Farmers’ Market, Davison Farmers’ Market and Grand Blanc Farmers’ Market.  I personally subscribed to Flint Fresh Veggie Boxes.  The prices for different-sized boxes are $15 for a Small Farmer’s Choice Box or Small A La Carte Box, and $30 for a Large A La Carte Box.  The Small Farmer’s Choice box’s contents varied based on availability and season, but the A La Carte Boxes allowed you to select from available fruits and vegetables of your choice.  The best part is, you can pick-up your box or they will deliver it to you!

Flint also offers residents the option to grow their own garden produce for a nominal fee of $20.00 through Edible Flint.  The Garden Starters Kits includes 100% organic seeds and 9 varieties of transplants.  A maximum of 2 kits may be ordered per garden and/or group.  Garden Starters Kits are only available for gardens located in Genesee County while supplies last, and you have to complete an application on their website before purchasing.  Distribution day for these starter kits is quickly approaching on May 16th, so if you want to test out your green thumb, now is the time to apply.

What’s In the Box?

A recent box I received contained two avocados ($3 each), lettuce ($3), kale ($3), a zucchini squash ($3), a green bell pepper ($3), a yellow squash ($3), a red bell pepper ($3) and three bananas ($3). Note: Prices aren’t listed individually, so I divided $27.60 by each type of item. Each avocado was listed separately in the order.

Curious, I went to my local Whole Foods to compare prices. Avocados were four for $5 (on sale), lettuce was $2.99, kale was $2.99, zucchini and squash were each $1.99 per pound, green bell peppers were $1.79 per pound, red bell peppers were $1.49 per pound and bananas were .77 cents per pound. Although the grocery-store produce was less expensive, the items weren’t necessarily local like five of my farm-box items were. Plus, farm boxes don’t charge for delivery, so you’re saving on gas and time.

Other Things to Consider:

  • You should be prepared to cook at home more in order to use all your veggies. Start with a box that is smaller than you think you’ll need to test whether you actually can finish the produce before the next box arrives.
  • Consider whether you want a standard box or customizable one. A standard box might bring you veggies you aren’t familiar with and might not know what to do with — for the adventurous home chef!
  • You’ll likely still have to go to the grocery store to get things not available in a farm box, or you might select a company that offers more than produce.
  • There are often incentives to signing up, like receiving $10 off your first box, or even getting one free.

If you’d like to add more fresh produce to your meals, search for farm-box subscriptions in your area, or at sites like Serious Eats, which provides a run-down of the various services provided by state.  The MSU Extension also offers a host of local resources and information.

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