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The producers; As more community-supported agriculture operations crop up, farm-fresh foods are becoming easier to acquire

After years of watching the number of subscribers to their Little Valley organic farm rise, Stew and Deb Ritchie decided to go digital.

"Just this year, we set up an online signup, which has been great," said Deb Ritchie, who handles the records and bookkeeping for their Native Offerings Farm. "We brought in some software that keeps track of everybody and our accounting."

Native Offerings' organic vegetables reach more than 400 customers every week of the season through drop-off sites in Buffalo, Amherst and Orchard Park. The new software "creates easily filtered lists, so we can just talk to the people from Buffalo if we want to," said Ritchie.

Native Offerings was one of the first community-supported agriculture (CSA) farms in Western New York. At CSA farms, customers pay from about $200 to $600 up front for a season's worth of extraordinarily fresh produce.

Every week their allotment of vegetables, fruit or flowers is waiting at the farm -- or more likely, at a satellite drop-off location closer to home.

In 2005, Native Offerings had about 200 subscribers, and was one of three CSAs in the area. Now it has "well over 400," Ritchie said.

The last seven years have seen expanding interest in locally grown food and organic vegetables -- there now are at least 16 such operations in the region. Nine of the farms aim to serve 100 families or fewer, taking the grower-eater relationship retail.

The proliferation of vegetable-season subscription options was further broadened this year when Farmers and Artisans, a Williamsville local foods emporium, started offering a store-based, CSA-like service.

"One of the factors is the convenience," said co-owner Julia Blackman.

Instead of going to a farm, stranger's home or parking lot at the appointed hour to pick up their vegetables, Farmers and Artisans subscribers will come to the store, in the heart of Williamsville, for their vegetable share.

"We want to get this terrific local produce to people," said Blackman, whose Blackman Homestead Farm in Lockport will supply some of the produce. "Because of very busy schedules and lives, there has to be a convenience to it."


The following places are still accepting subscribers for the upcoming season. (Promised Land in Corfu and Root Down Farm in Clarence are fully subscribed.)

Read their websites or call and talk to someone to make sure a farm's produce fits your needs. Find out where the drop-off locations are, and what day the shares are distributed. A few places may require participation, like hauling vegetables. Policies differ on what happens to your share of produce if you miss a pickup.

>Arden Farm, 1821 Billington Road, East Aurora

Still accepting customers. (Dan Roelofs, 341-1268)

Sites: On-farm pickup, delivery available.

Cost: $410-$610, 20 weeks.

Customers: 50

To sign up: Call for details or check website.

Crops: Vegetables. Meat (pork, chicken and lamb) available.


>Becker Farms, 3760 Quaker Road, Gasport

Still offering shares. (Amanda Vizcarra, 772-2211, Ext. 104)

Sites: On-farm pickup, sites in Niagara Falls, Amherst, Williamsville.

Cost: $22 or $39 per week in 10-week blocks.

Customers: 100

To sign up: On website with credit card, or by check.

Crops: Vegetables and fruit.


>Busti Cider Mill CSA, 1135 Southwestern Drive, Busti

Accepting customers until May 1. (Judy Schultz, 484-7300)

Sites: On-site pickup.

Cost: $275-$525 for 20-26 weeks.

Customers: 50

To sign up: Call to get registration form.

Crops: Vegetables and a little fruit.


>Canticle Farm, 3835 South Nine Mile Road, Allegany

Offering shares for summer and fall. Spring sold out. (373-0200, Ext. 3358)

Sites: On-farm pickup.

Cost: $180 to $640 depending on size, duration.

Customers: 110

To sign up: Call or check website under "Be a shareholder." Credit cards accepted.

Crops: Vegetables.


>Farmthisway CSA, 11086 Brant Reservation Road, Brant

Bushel-sized shares available until end of May. (Marty Rosiek, 549-1038)

Sites: On-farm pickup, Blasdell, delivery for fee.

Cost: $849 plus $99 membership for 24 weeks, $449, plus $99 membership for 10 weeks.

Customers: 100

To sign up: Sign up on website; credit cards accepted.

Crops: Vegetables, grapes and plants.


Farmers and Artisans, 78 East Spring St., Williamsville

Offering subscriptions. (633-2830)

Sites: In-store pickup.

Cost: 22 weeks of vegetables, $395; flowers, $175; 20 weeks of fruit, $250.

Customers: 50

To sign up: Call for details or check website.

Crops: Vegetables, fruit, cut flowers.


>Fenton's Produce, 3323 Pratt Road, Batavia

Shares available until May. (Paul Fenton, 585-343-9491)

Sites: On-farm pickup.

Cost: $425 for 23 weeks.

Customers: 150

To sign up: Check website. Credit accepted by phone.

Crops: Vegetables and blueberries.


>Gong Garden Farm, 3488 Webster Road, Fredonia

Shares available until May. (Sarom Heng, 679-9853)

Sites: On-farm pickup.

Cost: $275-$500 for 20 or more weeks.

Customers: 15

To sign up: Go to website for registration form and email, or call.

Crops: Vegetables.


>Good Food Farm, 3818 Route 77, North Java

Accepting customers. (Damian Huber, 585-535-0487)

Sites: On-farm pickup, Holland Farmers Market.

Cost: $300-$525, 19 weeks.

Customers: 30

To sign up: Call or email for details.

Crops: Vegetables. Chicken, turkey available.


>Harvest Patch CSA, 611 Route 20A, Strykersville

Shares available until May. (Ashley Meyer Howe, 585-322-3106)

Sites: On-farm pickup, East Aurora, West Seneca.

Cost: $340 until April 30, $360 till May 30; 17 weeks.

Customers: 25

To sign up: Call for details or fill out application on website; credit cards by phone.

Crops: Vegetables and apples. Maple syrup available.


>Native Offerings, 8501 Maples Road, Little Valley

Amherst, Buffalo sites sold out, but Orchard Park and on-farm shares available. (Stew and Deb Ritchie, 257-3006)

Sites: On-farm pickup, delivery available.

Cost: $260-$625, 22 weeks for vegetables; $240 for 20 weeks of fruit.

Customers: 400

To sign up: Online at website; bank transfer or mailed check.

Crops: Vegetables, fruit. Meat (pork, beef) available.


>Porter Farms, 5020 Edgerton Road, Elba

Accepting new subscribers. (585-757-6823)

Sites: 17 sites in Erie County, Lockport, on-farm pickup.

Cost: $330 for 22 weeks ($310 before April 15), farm trips required

Customers: 900

To sign up: See website for registration form, mail check.

Crops: Vegetables and melons.


>Sinemus Farms, 6959 Norton Road, Elba

Still accepting customers. (Herman Sinemus, 940-1386)

Sites: On-farm pickup, Tonawanda, Wheatfield

Cost: $370 for 20-24 weeks.

Customers: 40

To sign up: Check website for registration, or call to use credit card.

Crops: Vegetables.


>Roots & Wings Family Farm, 523 Kent St., Cherry Creek

Subscriptions available for nontraditional by-the-week CSA. (Jessica Runge, 338-6153)

Sites: On-farm pickup, Jamestown, Fredonia.

Cost: $35 membership fee, then order vegetables by week.

Customers: 30

To sign up: Go to website.

Crops: Vegetables, flowers, eggs, herbs, pork.


>Thorpe's Organic, 12866 Route 78, East Aurora

Still accepting subscribers for vegetable and fruit shares. (655-4486)

Sites: On-farm pickup.

Cost: $485-$620 for 21 weeks.

Customers: 550

To sign up: Website for registration form.

Crops: Vegetables and citrus fruit. Fruit share, eggs and meat (pork, beef) also available.