Courtesy of Oyster Company of Virginia
Over the past decade, the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model—where customers pay in advance for a share of a farm's harvest—has brought fair prices to farmers and fresh produce to customers across the country. But many of us can't live on plants alone. Luckily, some enterprising producers have expanded the CSA model, selling pre-orders of delicious ingredients like dry-aged steaks, oysters and chocolates. Here are some of the unique offerings popping up in the US.
Dry-Aged Beef; Walnut Hills Farm, TN
This pesticide-free farm sells monthly local distributions of dry-aged beef steaks, roasts and ground sirloin from hormone- and antibiotic-free Limousin cattle raised on Tennessee pastures. Full share: $700 for 10 months. walnuthillsfarm.com.
Oysters; Oyster Company of Virginia
Starting this year, the oyster farm is selling "Oysters for Life Cage Packages," a lifetime share of a Chesapeake Bay oyster cage for a one-time fee. Out of the nearly 2,000 oysters that can grow in each cage annually, members receive two dozen fresh oysters (shipped anywhere in the US) each year, for the rest of their lives. Lifetime share: $175; oysterva.com.
Sheep-Milk Cheese; Shepherd's Way Farms, MN
A Minnesota farm with one of the largest flocks of dairy sheep in the country, Shepherd's Way makes a range of handcrafted cheeses that are available for monthly pickup at locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The 1 1/2-pound assortment includes selections like pungent Big Woods Blue and garlic-and-herb-flecked Shepherd's Hope. Traditional share: $180 for six months. shepherdswayfarms.com.
Seafood; Siren SeaSA, CA
A Fillet Full share includes enough local and sustainably caught seafood for four people, including skin-on fish fillets, oysters, squid, sardines and mussels; available for pickup at multiple Bay Area locations. Information about each week's catch—along with recipes and tips—is available on the website. Fillet Full share: $40 weekly. sirenseasa.com.
Bacon; Damn Fine Bacon, CA
Stephen Pocock, the salumiere at San Francisco's Boccalone, runs this artisanal bacon club. Each month, members can retrieve a pound of handmade, smoked bacon (plus samples of Pocock's latest bacon flavor) from various pickup points in the city. Full share: $39 for three months. damnfinebacon.com.
Coffee and Chocolate; Flying Rhino Coffee, OH
After 17 years practicing the art of glass-blowing, Flying Rhino owner Ralph Behrendt found a new passion in chocolate-making and coffee-roasting. Local CSA members take home a half-pound bag of hand-roasted coffee beans every other week and a monthly variety of handmade chocolate truffles and chocolate bars. Full share: $300 August through January. flyingrhinocoffee.com.
Beer; Brewlab, CA
Every five weeks, Brewlab members receive an assorted pack of 6 or 12 beers crafted by a group of Bay Area home brewers. Since law prohibits the group from charging for the beers, members donate what they see fit. The beers can be picked up at a location in the Mission, but delivery within San Francisco is also available. By donation. brewlabsf.com.
Wild Mushrooms; Hatchet Cove Farm, ME
The Oyster Creek Mushroom Company has partnered with Hatchet Cove Farm, an organic family-run farm, to offer a mushroom CSA to Hatchet Cove's members. Those who opt for the mushroom add-on receive weekly shipments of a pound of locally grown wild mushrooms like hen-of-the-woods, chanterelles and even morels. Multiple local pickup options are available. Full share: $190 for 18 weeks. hatchetcovefarm.com.
Lamb; Bluescreek Farm, OH
Serious lamb enthusiasts in the Columbus area can receive an entire lamb—including the heart, kidneys and liver—over the course of four months. More familiar cuts, such as loin chops and leg roasts, are also included. Full share: $249. bluescreekfarmmeats.com.
Condiments; Cheryl Wixon's Kitchen, ME
Cheryl Wixon creates sauces, jams, pickles and other condiments from locally grown produce. Available November through April, a monthly share, which can be picked up locally or shipped anywhere in Maine, includes a selection of pasta and pizza sauces, fruit sauces, pickled vegetables, dressings and homemade condiments like organic ketchup. Full share: Pick up $50 per month; mail order $60 per month. cherylwixsonskitchen.com.