I have been reviewing Bay Area produce delivery services for the past few weeks and will provide a comprehensive ranking at the end of the process. I look forward to experiencing a few more local farms’ produce box and CSA offerings as I continue on this journey.
Last week I embarked on a new type of delivery service, Imperfect Produce. This company sources produce that is not fit for retail due to one physical imperfection or another, and sells it to the consumer. I do not know any other company who follows this model. The closest I’ve seen was an imperfect produce shelf at my local produce stand. I found slightly bruised peaches there for fifty cents per pound - what a deal!
Moving on to…
SELECTING MY SEVENTH PRODUCE BOX DELIVERY
I researched a family-owned local farm located in Half Moon Bay which is just outside of San Francisco. Greenhearts Family Farm is their name, and they focus on providing well curated CSA boxes to their members. Their goal is to foster and grow a community that is aware of the importance of sustainable farming and possess a willingness to commit to local agriculture.
THE WEBSITE EXPERIENCE
The homepage features a photo of the farmers at Greenhearts along with a warm, personal message explaining their CSA program and their mission. For their CSA boxes, the farm combines produce sourced from their farm along with a few others in the Bay Area. I read that receiving a Greenhearts produce box is like “getting the best of the farmer’s market delivered right to your door”.
They have one price, one box size, but the customer can choose frequency of delivery. They offer a variety of add ons such as eggs, chicken, beef, lamb, bread, honey, kombucha and flowers, depending on availability. The website is simple, straightforward and therefore extremely easy to navigate.
There is a tab on the website titled “Order A Box” that I clicked on to build my order for my Greenhearts Family Farm review.
Every Other Week: $78 monthly
Single Payment CSA Boxes:
Week to Week: $40
Every Other Week: $646 for 17 boxes
Every Week: $1,275 for 34 boxes
This made the ordering process quite simple as there were not an overwhelming amount of choices. I looked forward to checking out what types of produce would be a part of my delivery!
No need to take time customizing my box for my Greenhearts Family Farm review. Paul and Aurora, the two owners, spend time curating the weekly selections. They work with accomplished neighboring farms to deliver a well-rounded offering by choosing quality crops that make it into each box.
An email was sent to me the week of my delivery. It listed each type of produce I would receive. There was also a list of add ons with pricing, available on a first come, first serve basis: olive oils, honeys, meats, krauts, kimchi, kombucha, eggs and fruit.
For my Greenhearts Family Farm review, home delivery was my only option. They service San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, Silicon Valley, Coastside, and Peninsula.
I received a call on the day my box was dropped off from the delivery driver. The process went on without a hitch.
I was overwhelmed by the beautiful bounty I received from my Greenhearts Family Farm review box. There was a stellar mix of seasonal fruits and vegetables, most of which I was familiar with, but one in particular I had never bought before (kohlrabi). Included in the box was a short letter from farmer Paul. It told about his interactions with other farmers and his experience collecting produce throughout the week. This truly connected me to his process and I felt as if I was on his weekly ride through the California farms.
Also of notice, Paul picks his favorite social media posts each week and gifts them a certificate for a free box! That was reason enough to encourage a tag of the farm for my Instagram post - I want more Greenhearts!
Here are the items I received as part of my Greenhearts Family Farm produce box:
Strawberries: 1 full pint of gorgeous berries in a variety of sizes, completely ripe and red from stem to end.
Cucumber: very large and screaming to be made into scoopers to scoop up some oil based dips.
Nantes Carrots: 1 bunch with the greens still in tact.
Red Leaf Lettuce: 1 full bunch made up of some insanely deep green and purple hued leaves.
Zucchini: a whopping 11 in total! These veggies will have to be split up amongst several meals in order to even make a dent.
Lacinato Kale: The leaves are tall, thin, and a deep deep green. I am excited to use them in some salad preparations.
Kohlrabi: 3 in total with leaves. I have never owned a kohlrabi before. They look like small purple cabbages - and I mean small.
Green Onions: 1 large bunch of thick and powerfully strong onions that will be garlicky toppings for many many meals.
Blueberries: 1 small container of sweet blue joy.
Spinach: handful upon handful of fresh tasty leaves.
Artichokes: 5 small ones - I cannot wait to get after those hearts!
PREPARING THE FOOD:
Those carrot top greens will make their way into a version of vegan pesto sauce I like to experiment with - no need for those tops to go to waste! The artichokes will definitely be steamed, with their hearts popped out and in to my mouth. Those green onions, beefy, with small bulbs at the end of them, will be roasted to release their sweet flavor. The kale, spinach, and red leaf lettuce will be worked into several salad ideas I have in mind for this week.
I immediately dunked the kale stems into a mason jar filled with some water. I separated the kohlrabi and carrot top greens from the roots and wrapped them in a damp paper towel for proper storage. This ensures longer shelf life for the root vegetables. If the two are not separated prior to storage, their tops take up too many of the nutrients and they will not stay fresh as long.
I will either sneak the berries as a snack, or they will be the star of an upcoming vegan breakfast crumble that I cannot get enough of these days! I will have to research a bit on this kohlrabi before I attempt to cook with it as it will be my very first time experimenting with the vegetable.
MEAL #1: VEGGIE PAD THAI WITH ALMOND BUTTER TAHINI SAUCE
I absolutely love noodles with peanut sauce, but for a few years I have not been consuming any peanuts. Therefore, I made a quick switch in nut butters for this recipe. By adding equal parts soy sauce/amino acids, almond butter, and tahini, plus a bit of lemon juice, ginger, garlic and seasoning, I achieved a spectacular sauce for my noodles that was satiating and flavorful.
I grabbed a bunch of produce from my Greenhearts Family Farm review box including spinach, green onions, carrots, and zucchini. I used my vegetable peeler on the carrots and zucchini since I do not own a spiralizer. I added these shredded veggies to an oiled pan and cooked them down a bit. Then, in went the sliced green onions. At the very end, I tossed in the spinach to wilt it down for just a few minutes. Removing my pan of vegetables from the heat, I poured in my homemade sauce and stirred it all together until each and every veggie was fully coated.
MEAL #2: QUINOA BLUEBERRY PANCAKES & ZUCCHINI - CARROT PATTY CAKES
What a treat to receive some fresh blueberries in this week’s produce box. I experimented with a higher protein pancake recipe this week by using quinoa as a base. I lightly toasted and then blended my quinoa to create a flour. The result was a pancake that was much denser, but still enjoyable. I absolutely love blueberries inside of pancakes, or any baked good for that matter. They become soft underneath a tough skin, so when you bite into them, they literally burst with flavor inside of your mouth. Who needs Skittles when you can taste the rainbow using these little berries!
My zucchini and carrot patty cakes have been a recent go to of mine when I have an excess of certain produce and I crave for a creative way to consume it. I used my cheese grater and grated both veggies. I then pressed them between a towel to wring out as much water as possible. No egg needed to bind, I seasoned them with salt and pepper, formed tight patties between my two hands, and dropped them into a pan covered in oil. I lightly fried them in the pan until they turned golden brown on both sides.
The taste of the patties is very unique and special to me. It reminds me of the potato latkes I ate for years throughout my childhood at Nana’s house for the holidays. Plus this recipe could not be simpler - and in my opinion - a great way to intake some veggie-producing vitamins.
MEAL #3: RED LEAF LETTUCE VEGGIE TACOS
I was in the mood for some sort of taco, but I knew I had a bunch of red leaf lettuce from my Greenhearts Family Farm review sitting in the fridge. I decided to tear off a few of the large leaves that, after a quick rinse, would double as the taco shell. I sliced up some zucchini and roasted the slices in the oven along with a few cherry tomatoes and sweet peppers, releasing their sugars.
I then rinsed, drained and mashed a can of chickpeas together with a bit of oil, lemon juice, raw sunflower seeds, paprika, salt, and pepper. I have been recreating renditions of this dairy-free mix, and it is a good substitution for ground beef or tuna fish salad (ok, maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but a mix of seasoned, mashed chick peas and sunflower seeds has a nice texture and packs a bunch of flavor).
After I built my lettuce leaf taco, I drizzled a simple lemon vinaigrette on top for some extra seasoning. This one included:
1 tbsp EVOO
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp spicy brown mustard
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
I will most definitely create this dish time and time again. For me, lettuce tacos are much more interesting to bite in to than a plain ole salad, and much easier to get through as well!
My experience with Greenhearts Family Farm’s CSA program felt extremely personal, like visiting a boutique shop as opposed to a department store. There was only one sized box to choose from, and no swaps allowed. I happened to like the variety and all of the contents that were inside. There was a note in the produce box from farmer Paul, which included a few anecdotes about his journey collecting of all of the items for the weekly box. I enjoyed following along; it gave me a glimpse into his routine.
My Greenhearts Family Farm review box delivered some extremely fresh produce, with a solid mix of both fruits and vegetables. I recognized the majority of items in the CSA, but there were also some that were much less familiar. The quantities were plentiful. For example, there were eleven zucchinis and five artichokes in the box. These, along with the kale, green onions, and red leaf lettuce, lasted me well over a week. I incorporated a little here and there and still had plenty remaining.
Communication with the farm went on without a hitch, both by phone and email. I felt part of a small, tight knit community with my Greenhearts Family Farm review box.
Check out my final ranking here!
ONE SIZE BOX AVAILABLE
EASY TO CANCEL
GOOD COMMUNICATION WITH THE FARM
VARIETY OF AD-ONS AVAILABLE
CANNOT CUSTOMIZE (Normally I would list this as a dislike, however I was impressed by the way Greenhearts curated my box. The balance and variety made sense to me and it worked: root vegetables to leafy greens, leafy greens to fruit, and multiple quantities where applicable such as zucchini and artichoke.)