One common reason people don't support their local farmers is that shopping at a supermarket is just convenient. Supermarkets are open late—sometimes 24/7—and have pretty much every item you could want. But the one-stop-shop still leaves something to be desired: understanding how your food was grown, knowing who grows it, and keeping capital in your region are just a few reasons to skip the supermarket for meat, eggs, dairy, and seasonal produce.
Today there are a few ways to support local farms: farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSA), and the more recent buying club model. Buying clubs and online farm stands are becoming increasingly popular with farmers, making it much easier and more convenient to buy locally produced meat, eggs, dairy, produce, and sometimes even baked goods and other value-added items. Plus, you can buy local straight from your computer!
Participating in a buying club is a great alternative if you can't make it to the farmers market, because there are usually many pickup locations to choose from, sometimes even home delivery. It's also a perfect option if you can't make the commitment to a CSA, because you only order when you want something. Plus, it's very easy to join.
Step 1: Find a farm that offers a buying club or online farm stand. We list some local ones below. Joining is usually as easy as subscribing to a newsletter or creating an account on their website.
Step 2: Place your order. This is the fun part! Choose from the menu of items available that week. Make sure to get your order in before the deadline, which will depend on your pickup/delivery day and location. If you're ordering meat, the price will probably be an estimate until your actual cut can be weighed.
Step 3: Get fresh, locally produced food. OK, this part is really fun, too. The buying club may offer on-farm pickup, home delivery, and/or drop points throughout the region. Whatever the case, you are sure to find a convenient way to get humanely raised food that was produced within driving distance. Can you say that about the supermarket?
Ready to get started? Here are some ethical animal farms serving Southwestern PA that offer buying clubs or online farm stands:
Burns Heritage Farm
Join at burnsheritagefarm.com
Offers: 100% grass-fed beef and lamb, pastured pork, pastured eggs, pastured poultry, produce, and baked goods
Conforti Family Farm
Order at confortifamilyfarm.com
Offers: pastured poultry, pastured eggs, produce, value-added items like popcorn and pepper flakes
The Family Cow
Join at yourfamilyfarmer.com
Offers: grass-fed raw milk, grass-fed beef and lamb, pastured pork, pastured eggs, pastured poultry, produce, honey, maple syrup, and more, all USDA organic
Penn's Corner Farm Alliance
Order at pennscorner.com
Offers: meat, eggs, dairy, produce, value-added, flowers, and more
* Penn's Corner combines the products of several farms and producers around the area. Not all of their sources of meat, eggs, and dairy necessarily meet our standards for humane husbandry.
Does your farm buying club or farm stand belong on this list? Email us at email@example.com to be included.
Not convinced that a buying club is for you? We know some people you may want to hear from.