Details for summer 2011
Full share: $700
Half share: $425
Duration: 25 weeks
Notes: Fruit share and flower share available. Offers a Community Supported Medicine (herbal supplements) program and a Four Season Harvest program (other foods and goods available for purchase, to be delivered with CSA box).
Overall, the website is easy to navigate and nice to look at, which is all one can really ask of a website. They have descriptions of what they provided in a full share last year, which is very useful when making a decision, although pictures or links to a customer's pictures would be even better. They are also all fully certified organic, which is over all a good thing, although I have been skeptical of the label having read horror stories of less-than-scrupulous farmers following the letter but not the spirit of the law. Nevertheless, I prefer to believe that trust is not a bad word, and so although I have not gone to visit any of these farms in person - the ideal situation - I am going to trust these are farmers who are following the spirit of the law.
Although there were other CSAs who made the short list, we decided to go with Lancaster because I found a lot of reviews online, either from Local Harvest or from independent blogs who featured pictures of weekly boxes. The pictures were especially useful because it gave me a sense of how much produce I could expect in a full size share and of the variety of produce I would potentially receiving.
Another aspect of Lancaster that appealed to me is its co-op nature. As a cooperative of 75 farmers, I expect that they will be able to provide a greater variety of produce since they have a group of 75 different farms from which to draw. Of course, most CSAs will list on their website what their harvest schedule is like and what vegetables they grow, so if you find that a single farm CSA grows what you like, there's no reason not to go with a single farm CSA.
Finally, Lancaster has been quite good in the customer service department. Their e-mails are friendly and informative, and not incessant. Furthermore, they're very prompt in answering questions. There was a typo in an e-mail I received from them, which stated that I had a half share although I had signed up for the full share. A quick exchange cleared that up, and I'm so far quite satisfied with the level of communication from Lancaster.
Below are a few links to independent blogs and websites I've found that have pictures of Lancaster's CSA boxes. Hopefully, you'll find them as useful as I have!
http://harlemcommunityfarmshare.wordpress.com/category/5-share-lists/ - Full and half shares from 2010. Full shares are called pantry shares, and half shares are renamed full shares.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/esseppis/4770090384/in/set-72157624197656436/ - one customer's flickr photoset of her shares.
http://farmtophilly.com/index.php/site/C13/ - Pictures from 2010 deliveries, also has pictures of other CSAs.