Owners: Shannon and Wade Pregitzer
Season: July-October, 14 weeks
Pick-up: Thursday afternoon Ann Arbor Westside Farmers Market; Friday at the farm; Tuesday Jackson “duck pond” park and water treatment center on Lansing Ave.; Wednesday Chelsea Hospital Farmers Market and Stockbridge Veteran's Park
Cost: Full share (4-6 person) $395, Half share (2-3 person) $250, Every-other-week share (1-2 person) $155
Cost per week: Full share: $28/week; half share: $18/week; every other week share: $22/week
Growing practice: Conventional tillage and Integrated Pest Management. "We still use some commercial pesticides if we have to, but are using more organic methods all the time, and getting into more sustainable farming with cover crops like clover and rye to put nitrogen back into the soil. We don’t have to spray for weeds because we mulch with plastic. We’re not going as far as being certified organic because it’s such a huge process. This is a lot easier, a lot less paperwork. We’re honest with our customers and they trust us."
Note: Pregitzer Farm also offers processed, frozen chickens. Order in advance. And Pregitzer offers egg shares. Full share: $38 ($2.70/dozen); half share: $20 ($2.80/dozen).
Shannon Pregitzer says that in their CSA program from their Munith area farm, “customers like that they get a lot of summertime favorites: cukes, tomatoes, peppers and sweet corn. We put our top quality produce in the CSA box. It’s been really successful. And people like that we put information and recipes in the boxes - that has been a hit. Eggs have been a huge hit. We’re going to do more chickens this year, and hopefully have more egg shares. We want to have at least 40 egg shares available.”
Pregitzer says they had heard about the CSA model and thought about it for a few years before they decided to give it a try. Their first year was in 2006 and they started with about 10 members. Next year they plan to have 150 members.
When I talked to a smiling and friendly Wade Pregitzer at Ann Arbor's Westside Farmers Market last summer, he said that people have been known to drive more than 100 miles to get his super- delicious sweet corn. And he offered a great price on heirloom tomatoes if I was willing to come out and pick them myself; he had lots that he wasn’t going to be able to get to. Both the corn and the tomatoes were excellent, by the way. When I asked him if they specialize in something with their farm share he said they put in the “real meat and potatoes vegetables and stay away from those exotic leaves.”
Shannon Pregitzer says they did include some kale and collards last year, but she “doesn’t know how far we’ll go with the greens.” The implication seems to be that theirs is a CSA that doesn’t focus a lot on the green leafy end of things.
Shannon Pregitzer says they try to accommodate their members’ likes and dislikes, noting “we do offer some substitutions. If you aren’t ever going to eat something, we’ll put something else in if we can. We did that last year. Some people couldn’t eat corn - they got a couple ears for other people in the family, then more zucchini, cucumbers or tomatoes. Some didn’t want any cabbage, or green peppers. We don’t guarantee it, but when I’m out packing I try to keep it in mind.”
They currently have 3 heated and one unheated greenhouse on their 25 acres of land. They’re considering putting in another two or three unheated coldframe greenhouses so that they can start to get some crops earlier: like broccoli, kohlrabi, snap peas, radishes, and spinach.
Members are invited to two main yearly events - their spring membership party and a big fall open house, which includes tours of their greenhouses and farm, with a hayride, a corn maze and a free trip to the pumpkin patch to pick out a jack-o-lantern.
Pregitzer also notes “we are offering a working share this year. We don’t have a standard number of hours, but we’re offering it to people if they want to come and work some hours to offset the cost of the CSA. We’ll pay what we pay our other workers and take that off their total. For some of our customers money is a little tight right now. This might be a way to help out a little bit.”