CSA Review: Our City Farm aka Villarreal Family Farm

I loved my CSA  in Madison, WI. With that farm, I bought avocados and sometimes fruit at the grocery store.  That’s it.  I was drowning in produce and was so happy about it!  The e-mails that the farm sent out always gave me a list of what I would be picking up, a story or thought, and some recipes that utilized that week’s bounty. I highly recommend Crossroads Community Farm (formerly Primrose Community Farm) to anyone in the Madison area.  Their family is adorable, the produce is great, they’re extremely professional, and the events they host are fun.

When I was preparing to move to St. Louis, one of the things I was most excited about was getting a CSA subscription. After much research and reading and comparing, I decided on Our City Farm which was formerly known as Villareal Family Farm.  Here is their website.

I was so excited! We were going to be getting a hearty box of vegetables, a dozen eggs, and a whole chicken every week. 

False. 

We do get a dozen eggs and a chicken every week (except one week, due to the extreme heat this summer and we have been promised they will be made up), but the vegetables are pathetic.  We get tons of greens and hardly anything else, even in the intense summer heat.  Each week I expect to get three to five bunches of greens, many of which are still attached to turnips, and a few other vegetables. Maybe two zucchini and an eggplant.  Or a small head of lettuce and two tomatoes. I think the first week was literally the largest and least disappointing.  By the fourth week I stopped taking photographs.  Now I am just annoyed every time I drive to get one because it’s not what I am paying for in the slightest.

I know it’s been hot, but that is nothing even close to enough to feed three to four people, as advertised.  But they are still growing greens and lettuce.  For those of you not in the gardening know, those are hard to grow when it’s hot! There are no carrots, no potatoes, no peppers, no berries, no melons, no onions, no garlic.  Only greens, more greens, turnips and turnip greens, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, and some herbs.

Additionally, the farm seems to be really poorly managed.  Here’s why I say that:

  • Their website randomly went down for weeks.
  • Jeri responds to my Monday e-mails asking if I can pick up our Saturday CSA at a different time after pickup, even as late as the following Monday evening.  I assume that most people travel at least one weekend of the summer, so this shouldn’t be something unusual.  I asked her about it before signing up for the CSA and she assured me it would be no problem. 
  • The pickup location changed between sending my payment and the start of the season, which means we drive much further than I thought we would have to.
  • Jeri is frequently late to pick-ups, even at the regularly scheduled time.  
  • The produce isn’t pre-divided into shares. Jeri just picks and chooses for you when you show up.
  • And finally, the e-mails for each week (which did nothing more than remind us to come pick up our CSA) stopped abruptly after a couple weeks.

I’ll concede that I really like the eggs and the chicken, but I could definitely source those from somewhere else and not have the burden of dealing with someone who makes it difficult to pick up my purchases.

To avoid this mistake, I’d advise you look for “typical week” photos on any CSA you choose and also find a list of what crops the farm grows.  My two biggest disappointments have been the small quantities and limited variety. Gavin hates turnips and both of us can only stand so many greens, and those seem to be the two biggest crops.  Make sure the “typical week” photos or lists look like what you are expecting to get for your money.  I would not trust the reviews on Wild Harvest, since they don’t seem to be too accurate, probably because there are so few.

I will not be returning to the Our City Farm CSA next year and wanted to be sure that others were aware of what they were signing up for before paying for this.  I’ll definitely be picking another choice next year.

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5 Responses to CSA Review: Our City Farm aka Villarreal Family Farm

  1. Trevor says:

    We had a HORRIBLE experience with the Villarreal “Our City Farm” as a CSA provider. This was our first year doing a CSA and this may have completely turned us off to the idea.
    1. The pickups were never on time. Eventually I stopped going at 10am and had to pick up at 3pm to ensure our share would actually be there.
    2. A few times they didn’t bring ENOUGH shares and had to find other ways to get us our share.
    3. Communication with the farm was basically non existent, no one to answer phones or return emails apparently.
    4. The weekly shares were mostly kale and other greens. We got TWO tomatoes all Summer, Zero Carrots, and a handful of peppers.
    5. When compared with our friends CSA from another farm, we consistently had half the amount of food.

    Poor crop seasons can be understandable. However, we were told by employees that “Our City Farm” has a booth at the Tower Grove Farmers Market! This amplifies my frustration as it seems they were selling produce there and providing us with late drop offs full of left overs! Unless their booth was selling only Kale I find it very suspicious that the drop offs were late and looking like left overs.

    Stay away from this CSA, horrible.

    • Kate says:

      I’m sorry to hear that this has put you off CSAs! I had an AMAZING one the year before when I lived in Wisconsin that I would do again in a heartbeat, so they are not all bad. This one really left me with a bad taste in my mouth and I’m glad to hear it wasn’t just us, with too high of expectations or something. Hearing that they had a farmers’ market booth really fits in with the leftover-looking produce we received every week. If you do decide to go with a different one next year, I hope it’s way better!

  2. Autumn says:

    Hello! Did you find another CSA in the area to try this year? I was looking into Villareal but I don’t think I will now!!

    • Kate says:

      Hi Autumn, we didn’t find another CSA but have decided to just save the money and use it at farmer’s markets throughout the summer/fall. Last year we also considered going with Yellow Wood Farms, Shared Bounty, or Dry Dock Farm. I hope you find a great one!

  3. Hillary says:

    I had a very similar experience. I actually did not even receive the last 2 shares I was supposed to receive in my CSA because one time Jeri just forgot about me and the second and last time, she failed to show up during my pick-up time… I have been completely unable to get a hold of her because she refuses to return my calls and emails. I wish I had seen your review before I lost money on this CSA!