Information for CSA Members

Welcome to Simple Gift Farm’s CSA!
Thank you for supporting our farm. We’re honored to be the stewards of this community-owned land. It is a pleasure to get to know you and all of our neighbors, feed you well, and be part of the wonderful community here in North Amherst.


Frequently Asked Questions

When is the share season? When can I pick up my share?

Click here to see our share calendar page.

How do  I sign up for a share?
Click here to sign up for a share.

Where do I pick up my share?
The pick-up site is at the North Amherst Community Farm, 1089 North Pleasant Street. Pull into the drive on the north side of the farmhouse, by the you-pick garden. Please drive slowly and watch out for kids. We’re also on the bus route  and encourage you to try walking or biking to the farm if and when you can. Click here for directions.

What does it mean that Simple Gifts Farm is certified organic?
Our certification means that a third party, Bay State Organic Certifiers, checks on us every year to ensure that we are meeting the stringent standards set by the National Organic Certifiers Board. Non-certified farms do not necessarily adhere to these healthy and sustainable practices.
The organic standards include:
·    Organic seeds, animal feed, and weed/pest control methods
·    A buffer zone of at least 50 feet between our fields and any field using chemical herbicides or pesticides
·    Waiting periods of at least 90 days (for crops grown away from the ground) or 120 days (for crops in contact with the soil) between fertilizing the soil with manure and planting it with produce
·    No pressure-treated lumber around our animals or crops

How does the cost of a Simple Gifts farm share compare to the cost of buying produce at a market?
Our farm shares are cheaper!  We keep careful inventory of what goes out in the farm share each week, and have found that the share is a 25-30% savings over our produce purchased at market.  And that is not even including the pick-your-own crops!  If you make full use of the cherry tomatoes, strawberries, herbs, flowers, peas, and beans in the pick-your-own garden, the share is a fantastic bargain! If paying for your entire share upfront is challenging for you, please see the next two questions.

Can I use my EBT benefits to pay for my share?
Yes. When you sign up online, you will have the option to pay by EBT.  Have your EBT number ready to send us. Your share price will be divided by the number of months in your share, and payments will be withdrawn from your EBT account on a monthly basis.

Can I use a payment plan to pay for my share?
Yes.  We recommend the no-cost UMassFive Farm Share Loan, which was created to help area residents support local agriculture by becoming farm share members. They will pay us for your share upfront, and allow you to make regular, interest-free repayments to them. Please click here to read more and request a loan. To take advantage of this option, click "will pay by check" at checkout, and the system will send you an automated receipt, which you can take to the Credit Union as proof that you signed up for a share.  We can also set up a payment plan with you directly if the UMassFive Farm Share Loan is for any reason not an option for you.

Are there any potential hazards to be aware of on the farm?
The usual nasties of the great outdoors are here too: poison ivy, ticks, stinging nettles, sharp sticks, and rocks. Be careful and keep an eye on your kids. We have a first aid kit in the CSA pick-up area, just in case. The CSA pickup barn is safe, but please don’t wander around our old barns, as they are in need of repair and this is a slow, ongoing project. Tractors and other farm equipment are exciting, especially for kids, but have dangerous parts even when they are not moving, so please stay off of them. We will give you the chance to climb on the tractors at some of our events, when we can supervise closely. The electric fences are live. They won’t knock anyone out or cause any physical harm, but they do really sting. Be aware that dogs particularly find electric fences very frightening. Animals are smart and only need to test this once or twice before they know to avoid it.

Can I help out at the farm?
Please do! We encourage members to contribute at least 4 hours of farm work each season. This is completely optional, and a great way for you to connect with your neighbors and community, have fun, get a taste of farming, connect with your food supply, and be a big help to our small farm. You can sign up for work shifts at pickup. Kids are welcome and encouraged to help as they can. Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, and bring sunscreen, a drink, and a snack. We need:
·    Tuesday and Thursday morning harvesting 8:00am–12:00pm
·    Farm help on monthly Saturday work days. Saturday work days occur about once a month. Click here to find the dates in our Events page. They will also be posted in our newsletter and in the share barn pickup area. Each is focused on a particular task (e.g. garlic or onion harvest, or cleaning up and planting the front garden).
·    Ongoing assistance tending the you-pick garden at your convenience (weeding, for example). Please speak with us about what is needed before beginning.

Can I walk, bike, or just hang out on the farm?
Please do!  The farm is a public place, and we encourage members and non-members alike to come visit whenever you like. There is a great tire swing on the hill up from the strawberry field ("the festival hill"), and that hill is an especially nice place to hang out as well. Come on by and we will tell you how to find it.

What if I forget to bring my share bag?

We will have plastic bags available of approximately the right dimensions, in case you forget to bring your share bag.

What if I miss a pick-up?
If you know you’ll miss a week, you can have a friend or neighbor pick up your share for you. If you are unable to make arrangements, your produce won’t be wasted; it will either go to the Amherst Survival Center (the local food pantry) or to the farm stand.

How does you-pick work?
We’ll let you know what is available at pick-up, but you are welcome to harvest your own you-pick items at any time. We will have a you-pick board listing items available, their whereabouts, and any limits on quantity. Major you-pick items will be strawberries, green beans, peas, cherry tomatoes, flowers, and some herbs. We encourage you to pick a little bit extra for those who are physically unable to get out and do their own picking. This is can be a nice way to teach your kids about community service.  

Do you offer the same products at farmers markets and in your CSA?
The produce we bring to farmers’ markets tends to fall into two categories: a) surplus from our CSA, and b) more expensive specialty foods grown especially for market. Sometimes we sell one variety of a crop at the market and another is part of our CSA because we did not grow enough to provide both varieties in both places. If you see something at our stand that you wish you had received in your CSA share, please tell us. We may be able to let it swap it out for something you received in your CSA, or we may sell it to you at a discount.

Do you have other products available in addition to the CSA share?
Yes. We also sell our own meat and eggs, plus other locally grown and locally made items at our Farm Store. Click here to see our Farm Store page.

How is your produce grown?
We use organic growing methods and crop rotation to produce nutritious, eco-friendly crops. Click here to read more about our produce.

How are your livestock raised?
Our livestock are grass-fed and raised on pasture. Happy and healthy, they are also employed to help build the soil for our produce. Click here to read more about our livestock.

Do you use manure from your animals to fertilize your produce fields?
Yes, and we exceed organic standards for food safety. Click here to read more about our methods.

How do you communicate with members?
We send out most of our member communications (receipt of payment, newsletters and occasional farm news) by e-mail, most often from simplegiftsfarm@gmail.com. We share information only with the North Amherst Community Farm, the nonprofit land trust that owns our land. The best time to reach us by phone is 7:00 to 9:00 pm. The farm season gets hectic, so it may take us a day or two to reply unless it is urgent.

Do you have a newsletter?

We’ll send a weekly newsletter by email to let you know what is happening on the farm and to offer you some ideas on how to prepare the veggies of the week. Printed copies will be available at pick-up. Subscription to the newsletter is not required. If you don’t want to receive it, simply scroll to the bottom and click unsubscribe.