New Philly CSA to Offer Summer Produce Through Winter

Flash-frozen farm-stand produce means year-round tomatoes, raspberries, blueberries and more

Heirloom tomatoes are on the menu this winter

Adam and Sara Gordon are all about farm-fresh produce. When the couple moved to Bucks County two years ago, they had access to more farm stands than they could count.

They soon got involved with the sustainable-food movement, and began exploring ideas of how to bring from-the-farm food to others in the region. There are community-supported agriculture programs (CSAs), of course, and co-ops and farmers markets—but many of these are only available during warm-weather months.

“We realized that the reason people don’t stick with these things is when it gets to winter, the produce selection can get a little dull,” says Adam. “We thought, ‘If only we could extend the season…’ ”

The couple did some digging and found a Hudson Valley-based company called Winter Sun Farms. Using a nitrogen-based process called flash-freezing to preserve the flavor and nutrition of freshly harvested produce, the company freezes and packages summer crops from local farms and distributes the items through the winter. The program allows cold, snow-up-to-here New Yorkers to enjoy local summer produce all year round.

This year, Philadelphians can get in on the action, too. Through a partnership with the Hudson Valley operation, the Gordons are spearheading Winter Sun Farms Greater Philadelphia, a sister program. They’re currently accepting applications for its inaugural season.

WSFGP will work a lot like a CSA, with monthly pick-ups at a handful of pre-determined locations, including Rittenhouse. But instead of fresh produce, members will get flash-frozen bags of heirloom tomatoes, broccoli florets, cauliflower, sweet corn, butternut squash puree, and whole black-, blue-, and raspberries. There will be six frozen items per pick-up, plus a fresh fruit or vegetable sourced from a local grower. The program will run December through April.

Eventually, the Gordons would like to start an independent program with crops from Philadelphia-area farms, instead of New York ones. They hope that with enough interest, they’ll be able to find a local facility to handle the flash-freezing process for upcoming seasons.

“We’re seeing this year as our first step,” says Adam. “Initially, our distribution model will be based on a seasonal CSA concept but our bigger vision includes supplying our products to institutions such as schools, colleges, hospitals and retail outlets.”

If you’re interested in signing up, the couple is enrolling participants at a reduced early-bird rate through Saturday. There are two subscription options: the single-share omnivore ($175 regularly; $155 for the early-bird) and the herbivore, a double-share suited for families of four or more ($315 regularly; $299 for the early-bird).  Go here to learn more.

Related: Canning Produce to Save the Season