FAQ – Healthy Lifestyle Farm Boxes

What is a CSA?

Traditional CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs are some of the oldest subscription boxes around. CSAs see the consumer pre-purchasing a share in a farmer’s expected yield for the entire season. After pre-paying in the early spring, they are rewarded with weekly food boxes through the growing season. The CSA model benefits the farmer, who is better able to manage their crop planning and may use the funds to pay for supplies and materials during what is often simultaneously the most expensive and least profitable time of the year. In turn, the consumer can look forward to a spring, summer, and fall full of the freshest and most local of produce. Weekly boxes are an exciting and dynamic way to discover new foods and old favourites alike.

Can I pay over time?

While the CSA model encourages prepayment as a way to support the farm during its most expensive time of the season (which aligns with the least profitable time of year), we understand this may be a barrier for some families and wish to make OUR CSA as accessible as possible.

To that end, we are offering a split payment option for a limited number of boxes on a first-come, first-served basis. There will be a $50 fee to facilitate this, bringing the full box cost to $1000 and half box to $650.

I’m a teacher, what do your boxes offer me?

Besides the great food and tasty products, 2024 CSA is all about education. With the help of educational experts we’re creating weekly activity and lesson plans designed for all ages, and we welcome you to bring them back to your classrooms. Of course, if a group of teachers or teachers and parents teams up to order four or more boxes, they’ll also receive free delivery (see below).

Is OUR Ecovillage Certified Organic?

While we aren’t certified organic, we do our best to live up to the ethos of organic growing and never add any amendments we aren’t 100% comfortable with later consuming through the produce. To feed our animals, we rely as much as possible on local garden scraps and select mixed grains. Our animals have full access to large outdoor spaces to root, scratch, and be animals. We are a permaculture-based farm and practice regenerative farming principles.

What is Regenerative Farming?

As opposed to large scale ‘conventional’ farming, which often strips nutrients from the soil and may deplete the farm or even alter its entire ecosystem, Regenerative Farming places a focus on rebuilding soil and improving, rather than reducing, the resources of the farm. This can be done through a variety of methods including tilling as little as possible, planting a diversity of crops, rotating where those crops go each year, using a minimum of amendments, and generally letting nature do what it does best, with a minimum of disturbance. Not only does this method of farming produce plenty of delicious food, it also helps mitigate the effects of climate change by naturally preventing flooding and erosion.  Learn more at: https://regenerationcanada.org/en/about-us/.

What is Permaculture?

This could fill a whole course! (And does: if you’re interested in extensive learning, check out our Permaculture Design Course, offered each year and with a discount for CSA members.) For now, we’ll let Bill Mollison, who coined the term in 1978 explain: “[Permaculture is] the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of the landscape with people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.” Permaculture by design is a lifestyle choice….

What do we mean by ‘Food as Medicine’?

These days of looking to raise our immune systems as much as possible has had us all turn to learning about, and crafting, ‘food as medicine’ in whatever ways we can. Since food and medicine supply chain breakdown happened in 2020 many folks realize that health and wellness is not only a lifestyle choice/need but also an important element in emergency planning and community design.  Learning together the possibilities of local wildcrafted foods, to cultivated herbal options, and even the amazing nutritional super star foods that we can grow and cook in this bioregion.  And as always….”let food be thy medicine” (ancient greek physician Hipporates).

I am, or know, a great foodie, farmer, or medicine maker you should feature on your new TV show. Who should I tell?

Perfect! We always love to connect with new people. Email us at grow-food@ourecovillage.org with a little bit of information.

When do I pick up?

Thursday afternoons starting on June 6. We’ll let you know a specific time frame closer to the date.

What if I don’t like or want certain veggies?

One of the benefits of a CSA box is the opportunity to try an abundance of veggies in a variety of different ways! Maybe you don’t like zucchini in your pasta but did you know you can bake it into a delicious cake?! We highly recommend getting creative with your ingredients each week. We are unable to cater to food preferences. We recommend sharing any extra bounty with friends or family (perhaps organize a swap!). If you have an allergy, please do let us know and we will provide a substitute in that case.

What if I'm vegetarian or vegan?

Let us know when you sign up, and we’ll make sure to match your box with the appropriate protein options.

I need to miss a week, now what?

You are welcome to designate a friend or family to pick up your box on your behalf. If you would prefer, we can donate your box on your behalf to a local food security organization (there are a number of organizations in Cowichan and Victoria who we can deliver to).

Do you deliver?

While we encourage you to visit the farm for pickup, we are exploring options for delivery on the South Island. Please contact us to express an interest in this and we will let you know details and a delivery fee.

What if I’m ordering as a group?

Locations with four or more shares going to the same location (schools, offices, neighborhoods, etc.) receive free weekly delivery. This is also a great chance to share any extra produce or swap anything you don’t prefer with a friend.

What does pick up day look like?

Welcome to Canada’s first Slow Food Drive Thru! Members will be welcomed to OUR Ecovillage in Shawnigan Lake, where you’ll be able to drive through our circular driveway specially designed for no-contact box pick up.

Depending on COVID regulations at any given moment, we are also planning on offering safe connection, socially-distanced outdoor areas to chat and meet other members of the CSA and OUR community. This is also a good opportunity to ask us any questions about foods you may see in your box but have less familiarity with, or to get an idea of what that week’s learning is all about. 

If regulations allow, we’re also planning a couple of activity days where you and your family can come meet the baby animals, take a tour of the gardens, and more.

Please sign up to receive info about permaculture resources, courses and OUR community news.


Land acknowledgment

OUR ECOVILLAGE is situated on unceded Indigenous lands. The Coast Salish Peoples are the guardians of these lands and waters where we live, work, pray, and play. Quw’utsun (Cowichan) is a historical place of gathering and Na’tsa’ maht Shqwaluwun/”one-heart one-mind” for many Indigenous peoples.

OUR ECOVILLAGE is committed to regenerate land and all ecosystems while acknowledging and respecting Indigenous knowledge that ensures thriving for all beings; we call this Permaculture.

OUR ECOVILLAGE is dedicated to continuously educating ourselves and our communities about the history and peoples of OUR bio-region, to assist in decolonization and re-villaging as a path towards peacemaking, from local to global.