Frequently Asked Questions

Traditional Community Supported Agriculture is an agreement between a single farm and members who share the risks (crop failure, bad weather, etc.) as well as the benefits (bumper crops, great food) of the farmer. This may mean limited variety, or overabundance of certain items. Fair Shares, being a Combined CSA (CCSA), gathers food from many farmers, offering fantastic diversity with little risk.

Membership in Fair Shares is a commitment to the farmers so they have the security of knowing what we ask them to grow will be sold. We're sharing their risk and their bounty, and we're encouraging more farmers to grow food (vegetables), instead of commodity (corn, soy).

New members, sign up here

Current members, sign up here.

 

Check the list at your pickup site to make sure you get what you are supposed to receive. You are responsible for making sure that you get all your food. When you come to pick up, we will go through with you and hand you each item for you to pack your own bags. Then check the list at your pickup site to make sure you got what you were supposed to receive.

The list at your pickup site may be different from the list in the newsletter because sometimes, things happen–deliveries don't come as scheduled, the dog eats our homework, or somebody else messed up.

Note that lists at are in order of frozen items, then refrigerated items, followed by dry, to help you know how to store your food properly. If you are unsure how to store your food properly, just ask--we want you to experience the food the way our producers want you to enjoy it!

Speaking of bags, new members will receive two Fair Shares bags per membership fee paid. Please bring your bags every week! If you prefer to use your own bags, a box, or a cooler, that is up to you, but please, keep something in your cars to carry your groceries home in for those unexpected days when something comes up.

The food lists will be numbered and labeled with a pickup group, and will include the producer and the item. For instance:

1. FSA

American Grassfed Beef--ground
Del Carmen Black Beans
Heartland Methuselah Cheese
MO Grain Project Wheat Flour
River Hills Poultry Alliance Eggs
San Luis Tortilla Chips
Gringo's Salsa
Black Bear Bakery Bagels

The list above is in order of frozen (ground beef) to cold (black beans, cheese, flour, eggs) to dry (chips, salsa, bagels).
What, refrigerated flour? Yes! The flour and mixes we get are ground fresh locally and will keep longer and better if kept refrigerated. If there is any ambiguity in the list, just ask! And by the way, if you won't be eating all your bread in a day, slice it and freeze it. No preservatives means it doesn't stay fresh for a week!

We love organic, but unfortunately, there are not enough farmers growing organically to supply all of our needs. We do, however, have the majority of our produce grown by farmers who are either certified organic, or who grow organically (or even beyond organic), but who are not certified. We don't care much about the ceritification when we know the farmers personally and they know that they are selling their reputation and their integrity because their name is on their food.

Some produce, particularly fruit, is very difficult to find organically grown in our area, due to the humidity and heat, and the resulting abundance of fungus/mold and pests that can ruin a crop. We source as much organically grown produce as we can find, and even the farmers who don't grow organically strive to be sustainable and may spray only in dire situations, especially since chemicals are expensive, as well as undesireable.

We let our members know that a bug in their produce is a good thing because if a bug doesn't want to eat it, why should we? And a live bug only means that the produce is especially fresh!

 

 

Like laws and sausage, Fair Shares is an organizational feat that nobody really wants to watch in process. The easiest way to get the basics on how Fair Shares works is to come in for a two-week trial so you can personally see it in action. But here's a rudimentary explantion:

We create several different food lists with meat, dairy, grains and other non-produce foods and then fill in with whatever fresh produce the farmers have to offer. We assign members to specific pickup groups based on their pickup location and share size. Then we rotate the pickup groups through the food lists, allowing us to give all the pickup groups the same food in a several-week period. Of course, the produce changes week to week throughout the seasons, so that won't be consistent, but we keep track of what each pickup group receives and try to make sure all groups gets to try everything.

In this way, you can peek ahead to get an idea of what food you will receive in the coming weeks. For example, in the newsletter, each pickup group is listed with a number before the food list; if it's a 2 this week, it will be a 3 next week, so you can look at the pickup group that has the 3 listed to see what food you'll get the following week (half share members will need to look two numbers ahead).

When members sign up, they create an account in our Farmigo system, which allows them to select their pickup location, day and share size. Then they select a payment plan and enter credit card information. A one-time $50 membership fee is included in the first payment. The payment plan amount is added as pre-paid credit on the account and weekly shares and extra purchases are automatically deducted from the credit. When the credit falls below the $75 minimum, it triggers an additional payment.

The non-produce items may be traded back in and other items may be selected. The entire trade value must be spent each week; credits may not be held over. Each Tuesday, we fill the online carts with the share items, and members then go into their accounts to make trades through our online store. The trade items will then be pulled and available at your pickup. You are always welcome to add on extras, either through the online store or at your pickup.

You have been assigned to a pickup group, as determined by your pickup site or Delivery Group (Fair Shares = FS, U City = UC, or Kirkwood = KW) 

With over 300 shares to fill each week, breaking them down into smaller groups allows us to deal with fairly small farms that cannot supply 300 shares of food, but can supply 40, 80, or 120, for example. This also allows us to purchase a consistent amount weekly throughout the harvest season without overwhelming everyone with the same food every week. This provides a much better variety for members, and allows many farmers to grow what they grow best.

In order to make sure everyone gets the great variety, we create food lists, numbered one through 5, which we rotate the pickup groups through, and then change up the lists every five weeks. There are particular food lists that have items on a consistent basis (lists one, three, and five always get eggs, e.g). Pickup groups will be rotated through the food lists, which tell you what each pickup group will receive for the week.

This weekly rotation allows us to give all the pickup groups the same food in a five-week period. In this way, you can peek ahead to get an idea of what food you will receive in the coming weeks. For example, in the Weekly Shares lists, each pickup group is listed with a number before the food list; if it's a 2 this week, it will be a 3 next week, so you can look at the pickup group that has the 3 listed to see what food you'll get the following week (half share members will need to look two numbers ahead, and Mini and Deliverd share members need to keep in mind their shares are smaller and won't include as many of the items listed in full size shares).

The newsletter via email is how we communicate with our members and it will be sent out the night before pickup so that we know our lists are as accurate as they can be. We try to get this out in a timely manner but the amount of prep for the shares sometimes means the newsletter doesn't arrive in your inbox until later in the evening.

Since emails and newsletters are how we get important information to you, we ask that you share with all others involved in getting the food. To add another email address to your account, log into the website and click Edit Name and Address link under your member account.

You may trade any non-produce items in your shares. You may also add items to your share, and extras and trade overages will automatically come out of the credit on your account.

Why can't you trade produce? Unless we could guarantee that the produce we purchased for your shares will be purchased by other members, we would lose money if we end up with lots of fresh produce each week that we then have to donate. Therefore, only items we can hold over are tradable. An exception to this rule is mushrooms, which we allow you to trade.

We post the food lists in the newsletter, which goes out Tuesday evening. We load all the tradable items in your share into your online cart. When you delete items from your cart, it will show the value of trades as "credit" and you select other items from the store that add up to equal or greater value. Credit is not carried over, so you must spend at least the value of the trades. If you'd like to make trades online, you must do so by 11a.m. Wednesday. You may make your trades on site at pickup if your pickup site is UCA or the Fair Shares Mothership, otherwise, you'll need to make trades via your web account.

You may reschedule with advance notice, but we don't guarantee or necessarily save the fresh produce for you. You may put your share on hold by logging in to your account, but you must do so before the Monday morning prior to your pickup.

You can send someone else to pick up your share (tell them your pickup group, name, and to bring bags!), sell your share to someone (give them the necessary info), donate it back to us or give it as a present (let us know so we can make the arrangements, or give the recipient of your choice the necessary info). We especially like getting potential new members in to see how we work, so naturally, this is our first choice. 

Have a good vacation!

 

If we do not hear from you within 24 hours of missing your share, we'll donate it. If you contact us within 24 hours, we will give you alternate hours on Friday or Monday that you can pick up your share.* We allow rescheduled pickups with advance notice--we need to know by the Sunday before so we don't order produce for you on Monday morning. If you have an ongoing issue, contact us, we will work with you as best we can. If you are a half share and want to switch weeks* for a vacation, please give us a lot of advance notice--at least the week before.

*This is an occasional option only, not something we can do on a regular basis.

If you miss your pickup and need to rescedule, you must come to the main Fair Shares site (aka the Mothership) to get your food.** If you pick up at KW or UC and miss your pickup time, you may come to Fair Shares up until 7:00p.m. the day of your pickup (if it's after 7:30, call Sara at the number below, we may say come on in). If you know you will not be able to make your pickup, please email us before noon that day, or call Sara at 314.852.5743, because we are not in front of the computer much between noon and 7:30p.m. on pickup days.

If you pick up at the Mothership, we can easily accommodate a Wednesday or Thursday pickup, meaning, if you can't make your regularly scheduled Wednesday pickup, you can come Thursday. If you know you can't come Thursday, you can come on Wednesday. Please just let us know by emailing info@fairshares.org.

If you will be late for your pick-up at Fair Shares, we don't lock the door at 7:00, so call the number above to if you will be later than 7:30.

** Some fresh produce may not hold over until your rescheduled time, or may no longer be available. We'll give you what is available from your missed share.

 

If you find you are going to be late for your regular pickup, we may still be able to get you your food that night. Here's What you should do:

Kirkwood Pickup Members:
If you will be late for your Kirkwood pickup, you may contact Lindy before 6p.m. on her cell at 314-662-0872 and let her know if you would like her to leave it at the brewery in a cooler box (which you may bring back at the next pickup). We are not responsible for left shares. Alternately, you may come to the Fair Shares Mothership to retrieve your share when Lindy returns with it up until 7:15p.m. or email info@fairshares.org to arrange pickup the following day.

UCity Pickup Members:
If you will be late for your UCity pickup, you may come to the Fair Shares Mothership to retrieve your share when Stephen returns with it up until 7:15p.m. or email info@fairshares.org to arrange pickup the following day.

Fair Shares Pickup Members:
If you will be late for your pickup at the Fair Shares Mothership, you may just show up until 7:30 and we will most likely still be there cleaning up, or call Sara at 314.852. 5743 to see how late we think we'll be there. Alternately, you may email info@fairshares.org to arrange pickup the following day. If you wil be consistently late because of work or school schedule, just talk to us, we'll work with you. We would rather you come get your food when we have it out and ready than to have to organize, save, label and restock it only to get it all out later.

If coming to get your food at a later time is not going to work for you, please let us know and we will donate the perishables so we can clear them out of the cooler.

Ending Your Share:

If you need to cancel your membership, just let us know in plenty of time so we can end the automated payments and you can spend down your remaining credit balance--either with weekly shares or shopping at your convenience. There is no penalty unless you request a refund, for which we have a $30 charge that will be deducted from the check.

Sure! We would love to help you give the gift of great local food. 

All we need from you is an email with the number of shares and the size of share you would like to give. Visit our Current Plans and Pricing page for options. You can also just pay the dollar value you'd like to spend--pooling resources with friends makes for a fantastic wedding present!

We'll add $5 for the two Fair Shares gift bags that are included. We will not charge you the $50 Membership Fee--if your friends decide to continue after your gift membership, we will require the Membership Fee from them.

Once we determine the number of weeks and type of share, you can let the recipient know, or we can create a certificate for you to give them, and contact us when they are ready to begin. 

Email us here to get started.

Tip: Expand Your Green Horizons!

These two greens are in the chicory family, and add a sharp bitter character to salads, but mellow and sweeten up a bit when cooked. If you aren't a big fan of the bitter greens, I suggest cooking them to minimize the intensity. They are delicious braised slowly in a broth or caramelized with a high heat saute...Read more

Testimonials

As both a vendor and a member, I've found Fair Shares to be a wonderful organization to be a part of. It has opened my eyes to a whole range of farmers/producers in the region that I may never have had the opportunity to come in contact with if it weren't for my involvement with Fair Shares. And you folks all rock!

- Josh Allen

Josh Allen, Companion Bread, St. Louis MO
Companion Bakery