FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS!
Sola Gratia Farm: FAQ 1 of 10!
What is a CSA?
CSA stands for “community supported agriculture” and is a partnership between you as a consumer and us, your local produce farm! Folks sign up with us before the Spring growing season, usually between November and April (or until shares run out…and they will!) and then get weekly boxes of fresh produce, grown following organic practices, during the growing season. Payment (installment plans available) is at the front end of the season, so seed, supplies and labor are available when needed. Pickups are at the farm, the Champaign Farmers Market or can be delivered, for a fee. In addition to our veggies, we have “add-on” shares of local mushrooms, bread and flowers and will offer sales of local fruit, eggs, honey and sustainably-raised meat.
When you sign up for a veggie box with us, you are supporting your local economy, committing to healthy eating, trying new kinds of food, eating fresh and in season and saving money. You also have an opportunity to volunteer on our farm and access to our events, including farm-to-table dinners, workshops, cooking classes and tours.
By becoming a member with Sola Gratia Farm, you are also helping your neighbors in need. Our farm was started by St. Matthew Lutheran Church in order to improve food security in our community. Nearly 1 in 6 people in Champaign County are unsure of where their next meal is coming from and are less apt to spend limited food dollars on vegetables, while nutrient dense but perishable. Our farm fills an important need as we donate as much as 30% of our harvest each year to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, Daily Bread Soup Kitchen and area food pantries, totally over 65,000 pounds over the last seven years.
Join Sola Gratia Farm for a weekly box of the tastiest, freshest and most diverse veggie box around and be a part of building a strong, equitable food system as well.
Sola Gratia Farm: FAQ 2 of 10!
So, what do you grow?
Sola Gratia Farm grows nearly 50 different types of vegetables and over 150 different varieties! Each week in our CSA and at market, our offerings are a little bit different. Some of our crops are only available for a few weeks at a time (i.e. leeks and Brussel sprouts), some make repeat appearances in the Spring and Fall (i.e. broccoli and beets), and some are considered more of a staple crop and once they start producing, are available until frost takes them out (i.e. tomatoes and peppers).
Generally, our crop plan will look something like this…
Sola Gratia Farm: FAQ 3 of 10!
What are your growing practices?
Sola Gratia Farm employs organic production methods that focus on growing an abundance of nutritious, and delicious fruits and vegetables, while enhancing soil structure and biology. We are committed to following organic practices in order to protect our workers, our customers, our neighbors and our shared environment. We practice crop rotation to break pest cycles and balance nutrient cycling; use cover crops and organic fertilizers to build healthy soil; employ integrated pest management techniques such as barriers, trap crops, beneficial insects, bait and traps to reduce the need for insecticide use (and then, only with organically approved insecticides). Our seeds are always non-GMO and organic, as available, for the crops we grow.
We are in relationship with each of our customers through the CSA, farmer’s market and wholesale and retail accounts and being an urban farm, have a very high level of transparency and accountability. Therefore, at this point in time, we have opted not be audited and certified by a third party and so technically, are not “certified organic”.
Sola Gratia Farm: FAQ 4 of 10!
Do members have choices about what produce they receive?
YES! Many choices! We usually have been 6-8 vegetables available for partial shares and 8-10 for full shares. When we offer head lettuce, our members can often choose between leaf and romaine, red or green. When we offer loose greens, our members can often choose between salad mix, spinach, arugula, mustard or baby kale. When we offer roots, the choice will often be between carrots, beets, turnips, salad turnips, potatoes and kohlrabi. When we offer bunching greens, members can choose between red and green kale, Swiss Chard and collard greens. Herbs are always a choice of whatever is seasonal. Pinted veggies are offered as choices, often between cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, hot peppers, onions, okra, lunchbox peppers, etc. Choose between Asian and Italian eggplant. Colored or green peppers. French breakfast, icicle, rainbow or round red radishes. Slicing or pickling cucumbers. Zucchini, summer squash or pattypan.
When walking through our CSA line, we have each bin of veggie mixed with the available choices and labeled with signs that tell our members how many of each to take. So within the number, you can mix and match. For example, 6 peppers could be 3 green and 3 red. Two pints may allow okra AND cherry tomatoes to go home for dinner. Four summer squash might mean two patty pans for grilling and two zucchini to bake with!
Because we grow such a large variety of veggies, we know our members will get something in their box they won’t be familiar with. Our staff are always available at the time of CSA veggie box pickups and at market to share cooking ideas. For our CSA members, we distribute a weekly newsletter including a list of what is in the box each week, ideas on how to prepare them and we include a few recipes weekly. We also offer cooking classes to our members that coincide with the seasonal offerings and two catered farm-to table dinners for additional inspiration!
CSA veggie boxes are a great way to each fresh, seasonal and expand your palate!
Sola Gratia Farm: FAQ 5 of 10!
How did last season go?
VERY WELL. We totally rocked 2018.
Read all about it in our 2018 "wrap-up" newsletter below.
(Posted January newsletter article)
Sola Gratia Farm: FAQ 6 of 10!
How do I sign up?
We make it super easy to sign up with us.
Option 1) Visit our website and sign up online. Follow up by putting a check in the mail to us at 2200 South Philo Rd., Urbana, IL 61802
Option 2) Visit our website and download a form. Print, fill out and put in the mail with a check to us at 2200 South Philo Rd., Urbana, IL 61802.
Option 3) Fill out one of our green membership forms you might find posted around town, fill out, add a check and you guessed it…mail it in to the address listed above.
Option 4) Stop by the farm office in St. Matthew Lutheran Church and we’ll set you up with a form and you set us up with a check. J
*Payments can be made in installments, if needed. We’d like for everyone to pay the first 1/3 of the total expense at the time of sign up. The 2nd 1/3 should be paid sometime this Spring. The final 1/3 should be paid before the CSA season begins.
** We offer multiple share sizes and seasons, delivery and add-on shares (more on that in the next blog!). Please let us know if you have any questions about payment for these!
Sola Gratia Farm: FAQ 7 of 10!
What add-ons does our farm offer?
We LOVE to partner with other small, sustainable farms to bring our members the best this community can offer! This year, our CSA members will have access to fresh baked bread from Rick’s Bakery, gourmet mushrooms from Flyway Family Farm, gorgeous and lovingly grown flowers from Delight Flower Farm, sustainably raised meat and eggs from Bane Family Meats, fresh heirloom apples from Red Crib Acres, top notch blueberries from Reheboth Blueberry Patch, a variety of fresh berries and melons from Meyer Produce, honey from Second Nature Honey, and heritage turkeys from Seven Sisters Farm. Some of these products are available as “add-on” shares to our veggie boxes. Some of these will be available ala carte at the time of your veggie box pickup. Read below for more info!
Add-on shares: Sign up for a season’s worth of weekly bread, mushrooms, flowers or apples and pick them up at the same time as your veggie CSA!
Rick’s Bakery offers a variety of fresh baked loaves of bread that can be picked up alongside your veggies each week. For $100, members will get to choose a loaf each week for 20 weeks from a selection of whole wheat, seven grain, French, sourdough, rye or baguettes (2).
Flyway Family Farm grows a variety of gourmet mushrooms that will be available every other week during the 20 week season for $100. All portions will be close to 1 lb and will look like close to 1½ - 2 quarts. Their indoor, climate controlled facility allows for year round cultivation of exotic, gourmet mushrooms including shiitake, oyster, lions mane, king trumpet, chestnut, pioppino and more.
Delight Flower Farm grows sustainable and gorgeous flowers, harvested the day of pickup. When you subscribe to their weekly flower CSA share, you get to experience the season through flowers and see the unique blooms and colors that change throughout the week. Many CSA members report flowers lasting long into the next week's share pick up time- making for a house FULL of flowers. Sign up for either the 10 week ($200) or 15 week ($300) season for more beauty in your life! Contact Maggie Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Red Crib Acres is offering an Apple CSA lasting between 10-12 weeks long with pickups likely beginning sometime between mid Aug and early Sept depending on when the first apples ripen. Throughout the season there will likely be more than 30 varieties available to choose from with most weeks having around five to pick from. The CSA will have two size and price options at $125 and $200. The $125 half-share will allow you to pick up a total of 10 1/2 peck bags of apples and the $200 full-share will get you a total of 20 1/2 peck bags. Each share will be allotted points to represent the total number of 1/2 pecks available throughout the season and will allow freedom to pick how many bags you want each week giving you the flexibility to skip a week or stock up. Contact John Williams at email@example.com with any questions.
Ala carte items for sale: Week by week, we’ll make the best the season has to offer available for sale at veggie CSA pickups.
Sustainable raised meat and eggs from Bane Family Meats: http://www.banefarm.com/
Fresh fruit as available, including berries, plums, peaches, melons, apples from:
Meyer Produce: https://www.instagram.com/meyerproduce/
Red Crib Acres: https://www.facebook.com/redcribacres/
Reheboth Blueberry Patch: https://www.facebook.com/events/189458561231129
Responsibly grown honey from Second Nature Honey: www.facebook.com/secondnaturehoney/
Heritage turkeys from Seven Sisters Farm: http://7sistersfarm.com/
Sola Gratia Farm: FAQ 8 of 10!
Do you have any events coming up?
Yes indeedy…a broad array of events- something for everyone!
March 7: Happy Hour at Riggs Beer Co., 6p
March 30: Seed starting workshop, Sola Gratia Farm, 1-3p
April 21: Invited speaker: “Eat healthy! Leaning towards a plant-base diet.” Riggs Beer Co., 6p.
May 10-19: Spring Plant Sale (Also seed and tools/supplies swap!), Sola Gratia Farm, 9a-5p
June 12: Farm to Table Dinner at Riggs Beer Co, 6p
July 24: Cooking class on pickling, Sola Gratia Farm
August 21: Cooking class on roasting peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, squash, etc., Sola Gratia Farm
September 18: Cooking class on making sauces and canning, Sola Gratia Farm
October 2: Farm to Table Dinner at Riggs Beer Co., 6p
October TBA: Sola Gratia Farm Harvest Party/Farm Olympics
TBA: CSA Fair and Yoga for gardeners/farmers!
Sola Gratia Farm: FAQ 9 of 10!
How can I support Sola Gratia Farm and your mission, besides joining your CSA?
Purchase a CSA share for donation to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank!
Shares can be purchased here: http://www.solagratiacsa.com/2018-csa-member-form. Fresh produce will be donated to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank and distributed to those in need throughout the 17 East Central Illinois counties served by EIFB.
Shop from our stand at the Farmer’s Market!
We sell our beautiful produce weekly at:
Champaign Farmers’ Market every Tuesday 330-630p, mid-May through the end of October at the corner of Neil and Main St., Champaign
Urbana’s Market at the Square every Saturday 7a-12p, May through October at the corner of Illinois and Vine St., Urbana.
We’d love to meet you, help you pick out something special for upcoming meals, talk about growing techniques, etc. Markets are a wonderful way to connect with what we’re up to and take home some delicious veggies.
Shop our Spring Plant Sale!
Our biggest fundraiser of the year is our Spring Plant Sale! This year, it will be held May 10-19 at Sola Gratia Farm at 2200 South Philo Rd., Urbana. We grow nearly 150 different varieties of vegetables and herbs at the farm for the sale- all non-GMO and all grown following organic methods. We also partner with a family-run greenhouse out of New Baden, Illinois to offer you annual and perennial flowers for your garden beds as well as hanging baskets and patio planters. Perfect time to get your garden started and buy beautiful flowers for Mother’s Day!
Sign up for our newsletter!
Stay current on farm happenings, learn about sustainable farming techniques, hear about what we and our partners are doing to address food insecurity in our community and find out about upcoming events and volunteer opportunities! Weekly newsletters May- November, monthly December to April.
Volunteer! On the farm or at a special event!
Volunteering is a very special way to get involved on our farm. Come once a month or season, take a weekly shift, or feel free to show up every day of the week if you’d like! There is always something to do…from planting or weeding in the field to washing or packing vegetables, planting seeds in the greenhouse or helping out at markets or special events. We’ll teach you everything you need to know and promise you’ll have a good time, meet some great folks and contribute to meaningful work.
And finally, Donate! Either stop by our website or our facebook page and push that cute little “DONATE” button. You’ll be guided to our Guidestar page where you can make a monetary donation. 100% of funds donated will go towards 1) produce donations to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, Daily Bread Soup Kitchen or C-U Public Health District, OR 2) programming to address food insecurity in our community. Monetary contributions are tax-deductible as allowable by law so long as no goods or services were given in exchange for your gift.
Sola Gratia Farm: FAQ 10 of 10!