When Life Gives You Lemons (or COVID-19), Start a CSA

Lemon Creek Winery launches a Community Supported Agriculture program

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A Lemon Creek Winery CSA box. (Photo courtesy of Lemon Creek Winery)

Many farms have been offering CSA programs for years.

With a Community Supported Agriculture share, customers pay to receive regular orders that contain an assortment of produce and other products, depending on what the farm offers.

Now Lemon Creek Winery in Berrien Springs has launched a CSA program of its own.

“I realized as I was doing research starting up our new wine club that nothing like that existed in this area yet,” says Lemon Creek Wine Club Manager Kait Lemon. “Having been a fruit farm for the past 165 years, as well as a vineyard and winery, we wanted to be able to produce the same platform that we were offering with our wine club.”

The COVID-19 pandemic was another factor. Many of Lemon Creek’s farm market customers are in the high-risk category, so the winery’s CSA program allows them to pick and choose the items they would like. Lemon Creek grows 60 acres of produce in addition to 170 acres of wine grapes, so members can choose from wines, fruits, vegetables, breads, jams/preserves, honey, cheese, sausage and other gourmet foods that are combined into a box for quick pickup.

“We wanted to be able to guarantee that they had access to fruits and vegetables with the convenience of being able to pick up prepackaged boxes and limit personal exposure,” Lemon says.

Customers can sign up at Lemon Creek’s website, where they can customize their share to include the types and amounts of wine, produce and other items to suit their tastes and needs. An order form can be downloaded and emailed back to the winery, which will follow up by phone.

Aside from the convenience of a prepackaged box, providing this opportunity gives Lemon Creek the ability to show off products local to West Michigan. The wines, fruits and some of the vegetables will be produced at Lemon Creek, with the additional items like breads, cheeses, jams, honey and the like being locally sourced from small businesses and farms.

“West Michigan’s agricultural abundance is truly something worth celebrating and we hoped to use these CSA boxes to do so,” Lemon says.

The CSA start date is June 21 — a little late but designed to ensure safety and health for staff and customers, Lemon notes. Customers can choose from biweekly and monthly pickups, with the program running through the end of October.

Pricing will be based on what people order.

“The hardest part about allowing folks to customize their boxes so extensively is that it is then hard for us to give appropriate cost estimates,” Lemon says. “Each box folks agree to will be billed to a credit card on file the week prior to pickup.

“Before being charged, we will send them a copy of what they will be receiving and how much it will cost.”

And as more people turn to online shopping for groceries and other things, Lemon sees the CSA concept being a natural — and local — addition.

“I think they are going to really enjoy the convenience of it,” she says, “and the ability to access all locally sourced products.”

 

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