- Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a model of farming in which the farmer sells harvest shares to customers prior to the start of the season. Shares are then delivered incrementally to members throughout the season – in our case, on a weekly or alternating week basis, depending on location.
- CSAs allow the community to support the farmer by paying up front, which greatly eases the heavy start-of-season expenses and allows farmers to more efficiently and effectively plan and grow the crops. In return, the farmer is committed to the members to bring them the highest quality produce possible throughout the season.
- The Fruit Share CSA starts in August, when we have a lot of variety available to give to members.
- Share length varies depending on pickup location.
- Each week the share will have a balanced mix of seasonal tree fruit including peaches, plums, nectarines, apples, pears, and Asian pears. (We do not grow berries)
- The share contains a nice amount of fruit for a couple or small family, or for a single person who LOVES their fruit!
- Additional Membership Perks: "First Dibs" on Gold Rush apple reservations at the end of the season. PLUS, as always, you'll preferentially receive fruits which are in shorter supply. Our motto? Members first...market customers second!
What is the size of a share?
- A share contains a nice amount of fruit each week for two fruit-loving adults (who each eat about 1 or 2 pieces of fruit per day) or for a small family. If you have a larger family, eat a lot of fruit, or tend to do a lot of entertaining, you may wish to consider buying an additional share.
- The number of pieces of fruit and weight of the share will vary, based on the fruits available (plums vs. Asian pears, for example), but we stick with the above guidelines to provide a nice selection. Weight of share is about 8 pounds a week, depending on fruits available.
- Most Fruit Share members also have the opportunity to order and buy extra fruit if they need it.
What will be in a share?
- What you receive each week will vary over the season, depending on what fruit is ripe.
- We always plan to give you a balanced mix of fruits each week (rather than just 8 pounds of peaches all at once!).
- Tree fruits in the share will include white and yellow peaches, plums, nectarines, apples, pears, and Asian pears (we do not offer berries or melons, and grapes are very limited at this point and may or may not show up in a share)
Examples of what you'll receive over the months include:
- Mid-August: 'Delight' European pears, 'Summer Blaze' and 'Golden Supreme' apples, 'Glowing Star' peaches, 'Mirabelle' plums, and 'Shinsui' Asian pears.
- Early September: 'Encore' and 'China Pearl' peaches, 'Posey' plums,'Crimson Crisp' apples, and 'Hosui' Asian pears.
- Late October: 'Magness' European pears, 'Sugar Snap', 'Winecrisp', and 'Golden Russet' apples, 'Niitaka' Asian pears.
Please review the specific share options available at your desired CSA pickup location (pods below), as there are different options available depending upon location. Some locations offer a 12-week share season, others a 15-week share season. Many also offer and alternating weeks share (1 pickup every other week during the share season). All shares start right around the first week of August.
Each share pickup is $25, and the total is calculated by how many pickups you'll receive.
Payment for your share may be made by debit or credit card or check
We prefer payment in full at time of signup. However, if you desire to pay in installments, that is available by check only, and instructions will be provided once you sign up.
If you have further questions, please contact us.
If you have questions which are not answered here, contact us.
1. Why should I become a member?
- You'll know exactly where your food is coming from. You will be supporting small-scale local farming and helping to maintain some of the few remaining acres of farmland in this area.
- Because we are local, your food will be as fresh, ripe, and flavorful as it can be.
- Receive a weekly email detailing what is in your share each week. Hints and tips regarding use and storage are included.
2. What happens if I can't pick up my share on a particular week?
- We suggest you have a friend, relative, or neighbor pick up your share.
- If, for some reason, you cannot pick up your share on a given day, please let us know in advance. In that case, we may be able to arrange a different pickup option for you or double up your share on another week. Or we could donate the share The Chester County Food Bank.
3. Can I choose which items I get in my share?
- We will choose the items for you, selecting those we think you will find to be the most enjoyable and interesting.
- Selections each week will consist of a balanced mix of what our farm has ripe and ready.
- You will be able to order extra items when you need them.
4. What is my commitment? Am I expected to participate on the farm in any way?
- We do not require any work commitment from our members.
- We do ask that you make the financial commitment and pay in advance for your membership. This eases the early-season financial burden for us tremendously.
- We may ask you for feedback from time to time in a survey or questionnaire. Many of the varieties we grow are either new or heritage varieties. Your comments and preferences will influence the future of what we grow on the farm.
- Encourage your friends and neighbors to buy local. If they are not local to our CSA or farmers' market locations, a great resource for nationwide sources of local food is localharvest.org.
5. What happens in the case of a crop failure?
Because we are a diversified farm with a very experienced farmer at the helm, it is highly unlikely that a total crop failure, farm-wide, would occur. Occasionally, certain particular crops or varieties may not do well due to weather conditions such as hail or extreme cold or drought, but where some crops may fail, others often thrive. Diversity is the key to ensuring a good supply of produce through the season.
As a member of a CSA, you are assuming some amount of risk. The threat of total crop failure due to disastrous weather conditions or major pest invasion is there, but unlikely. After growing crops for 30 years, we feel confident that the supply of produce you receive will be what you'd expect. However, if we get completely nailed by a disaster such as Hurricane Sandy, which literally destroyed fall crops on many farms in New Jersey in 2012, we know you will understand that is completely out of our control and we may, in extreme circumstances, not be able to supply what you were expecting.
Members in 2020 shared with us a crop loss due to a major freeze event which occured on April 22nd. Although that event limited the number of Asian pears and certain apple varieties, we were committed to our CSA members, and provided to them all the fruit we could. This meant, in turn, that customers at our farmers' markets locations often came to the market to find little-to-no fruit available for sale. In 2020, as in all years, our CSA members always come first!
The 'good years', of which there have been many, more than make up for the occasional 'bad year'. As a member, you join us in sharing that risk.
The Fruit Share was started in 2003 to supply members with some of the finest and most unique varieties grown here at North Star Orchard.
Members often receive special varieties which we have in limited quantities and are not necessarily available to market customers. When we have limited quantities of Asian pears, plums, and peaches, for example, CSA members get them first.
Farmer Ike's experience growing fruit dates back to his high school days when he worked at a small local orchard. Since then he has been growing fruit wherever he has been able to (including in his college apartment!).
Since starting North Star Orchard in 1992, he has been able to focus his interests not only on fruit growing in general, but on growing very unique and heritage varieties, fruit breeding (to develop his own varieties), and using the newest technologies in training and pest management systems.
Are we organic? No, our fruit is not certified organic.
We grow most of our fruit using what Farmer Ike calls "Certified Sensible". We mindfully select what we consider to be the most sensible approach to crop protection to protect ourselves, our customers, and the environment by:
- Planting disease-resistant varieties
- Monitoring and trapping insects
- Encouraging insect-eating birds by providing more than 90 appropriately-sized birdhouses
- Participating in an insect-eating bat study being conducted on the farm by the Rodale Institute
- Using OMRI-certified (Organic Material Review Institute) spray products
- Using conventional chemicals when needed, if a traditionally organic approach is not available or effective
Many orchards call what they do "IPM" (Integrated Pest Management), which when properly practiced includes all of the methods above.
(The picture here shows some of the gadgets and gizmos we use for insect monitoring and trapping.)
Why not organic? In our climate on the East Coast, we have growing conditions (in particular, high humidity, wet weather, and newly-introduced insects like the brown marmorated stink bug) which make it very difficult to grow truly high quality fruit consistently using only organic methods.
In making our decisions in fruit crop protection methods, we take into consideration both environmental and safety concerns. Every year there are new and better products that can be used (both organically approved and conventional), and we constantly re-evaluate and update our methods.
Due to all of these decisions, and our concern about safety and the environment, we have an orchard which provides us with relatively undamaged fruit. Plus, the farm is abundant with insect, mammalian and avian life, all of which we like to see! (and we've got plenty of naturally-occurring grass and weeds, too)
"We have had the awesome opportunity to be members of the Fruit CSA for several years. The team at North Star Orchard love their orchard. It is evident in the fruit, the emails, the photos, and their new beautiful barn. The selection of fruit we receive is amazing in taste, freshness, and selection. We regularly purchase 'extras' to hold us over till the new year and each jar of apple sauce and peaches is like opening up sunshine on a cold winter day!" -CSA Member Christine D., 2017
"I love all your fruit. It taste so much better than grocery store fruit. So glad that I got a share." -CSA Member Carol, 2015
"This is one of the best investments we've made!!!" -2010 Member Erin B.
"Your fruits are the most delicious I've ever tasted! I'm so excited to receive them, and greatly appreciate all your hard work!" -2014 & 2015 CSA member Jim F.
"Your fruits are wicked good!" -2005 Member Shelly R.
"We found the fruit CSA to be a great way for the kids to explore new fruits and their varieties! There was always something for everyone and usually a great balance of fruit types!" -2015 Member Kelsey J.
"The quality of the fruit from your farm is outstanding." -2010 Member Stephanie
"The fruit this summer is just fabulous!! Thank you so much!! I thought I hated white peaches because they were always completely lacking any flavor other than sickeningly sweet. But yours are wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Peachy and sweet and juicy and perfect." -CSA Member Kathleen, 2015
"I just wanted to let you know how fabulous it was to get the first delivery of your incredible, amazing fruit this week! I was so looking forward to it, and now am savoring every single bite. It's so wonderful to bite into a peach and have it taste like a peach rather than sawdust (some of those market peaches look so gorgeous, but YUCK, are such a disappointment to the tastebuds!). And those plums... Yummmmm. I ate several of them straight from the bag; they didn't even make it into the bowl on the counter! Anyway, just a note to thank you and tell you that your orchard continues to EXCEED expectation!" -2009 Member Vicki S.
Please contact us if you have more questions!
Click on your desired location below for full info and to join!
Note that some partner locations (Blooming Glen, Two Gander, Flying Plow, and Homefields Farms) have signups on their own websites for our Fruit Share. See links to those farms below)