Who is the Wairarapa Eco Farm CSA?

The farm was started by Frank van Steensel and Josje Neerincx back in 1997 to build a healthy lifestyle for themselves and their four children, while at the same time creating a place that functions as an example of regenerative farming. Together with their now two grown up daughters they run a year round CSA, producing healthy, fresh and certified organic food for around 150 families in the Lower North Island. Their farm has been certified organic since 2000 and in 2018 they won the ‘Organic Farmer” of the year award during National Organic Week. The farm’s website: www.wefs.co.nz is full of information, videos and links that tell the farm’s interesting story.  A 5 minute clip called “Farming of the Future” reached 8.9 million views on Facebook recently.

What is a CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The CSA model for farming is also referred to as subscription farming or farm shares. In this model one subscribes a season’s worth of vegetables, sharing both the risks and bounty of agriculture. You place your food dollar directly in the hands of a local family farm and in exchange receive a share of fresh, organically grown vegetables each week delivered to your local neighbourhood in Palmerston North, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt and several places in Wellington (e.g. Aro Valley, Mt Victoria, Berhampore, Kilbirnie, Vogelmorn, Eastbourne, Mana and Ngaio).

By joining our farm as a CSA member you gain greater knowledge of where your food comes from and how it is produced through weekly newsletters, farm visits, and recipes. Community Supported Agriculture unites farmers and consumers to create direct and mutually beneficial relationships around the production of environmentally sustainable and healthy local food. By joining a CSA you support small farms and a production system which provides nutritious and fresh food for your family. 

Why should I join a CSA?

By joining our farm as a CSA member you gain greater knowledge of where your food comes from and how it is produced, through weekly newsletters, farm visits, and recipes. Community Supported Agriculture unites farmers and consumers to create direct and mutually beneficial relationships around the production of environmentally sustainable and healthy local food. By joining a CSA you support small farms and a production system that provides nutritious and fresh food for your family. 

10 good reasons to join our CSA

  1. It tastes better. Food grown at Wairarapa Eco Farm is usually harvested for you the day before you pick it up. It's crisp, sweet, and loaded with flavour. Produce sold in New Zealand shops often travels long distances on trucks or planes and is then stored for sometimes lengthy periods in warehouses.
  2. It is more nutritious/better for you. The shorter the time between the farm and your table, the less likely it is that nutrients will be lost from fresh food. Most fresh produce loses much of its nutritional value within 48 hours of harvesting.
  3. You help preserve genetic diversity. In the modern industrial agricultural system, varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen simultaneously and withstand harvesting equipment; for a tough skin that can survive packing and shipping; and for long shelf life in the store. In contrast, at Wairarapa Eco Farm we grow a huge number of varieties to provide a long season of harvest, an array of eye-catching colours, and the best flavours.
  4. It is safer. With all the issues related to food safety, there’s an assurance that comes from looking a farmer in the eye or walking in the fields where your food comes from. At Wairarapa Eco Farm, you get to know “your farmer” and you know that we take our responsibility to our members seriously.
  5. You support local farm families. All over New Zealand, farmers are a vanishing breed. And no wonder – commodity prices are at historic lows, often below the cost of production. Local farmers who sell direct to consumers cut out the middleman and get full retail price for their food, which means farm families can afford to stay on the farm, and keep it active.
  6. You help build a community. When you buy direct from Wairarapa Eco Farm, you are engaging in a time-honoured connection between eater and grower, and you are supporting a local business. Getting to know folks who grow your food helps you know more about the place and community in which you live. And at our CSA, it gives you access to a farm where you, your children and grandchildren can learn about nature and agriculture.
  7. You help preserve open space. Our agricultural landscape will survive only as long as farms are financially viable. When you buy locally grown food, you are doing something proactive about preserving the agricultural landscape.
  8. It is educational. For the past 100 years most New Zealanders have been increasingly distanced from their food. A CSA is a direct link between rural farmer and an urban family. Through our website and regular newsletters and farm days you and your family have a chance to feel part of the farm and learn about seasonal growing and growing issues that we face on a day to day basis.
  9. It benefits the environment and wildlife. Our organic farm is a place where the resources of fertile soil and clean water are valued. We grow cover crops to prevent erosion and replace nutrients used by our crops. Additionally, the habitat of our farm provides a home for wildlife.
  10. It is an investment in our future. By supporting local farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow, and that future generations will have access to nourishing, flavourful, and abundant food.


What do I receive as a CSA member?

A year-round supply of vegetable/fruit deliveries if you subscribe for a year, or 13-week supply per season. If fundraising for a school it is also possible to choose a 10-week (school term) season. Our CSA is designed to bring you a diverse and seasonal cornucopia of produce. Each week you will receive a selection of vegetables from the different vegetable families (8 – in winter – to 10 types of in our standard large veggie share). The variation depends upon the season and the specific items. If there are more high-value items in a particular week (such as peaches or salad mix), the number of items may be one less. If there are more standard crops that week, the number of items will be 10 or more.

  • Regular farm newsletter with recipes.
  • Farm events
  • Ability to order additional items, such as more vege and fruits, organic eggs.  Most produced on our farm.
  • A farm in which you can be involved in diverse ways – from harvesting your own food to letting us know your preferences for vegetable varieties. We are dedicated to answering your questions on how we grow your food or how to prepare the vegetables in your share.


What can I expect in my bag?

Sample Small Fruit Share ($12.50), March 2018:

750 grams each of Gala apples, oranges and Packham pears.

Sample Large Fruit Share ($12.50), March 2018:

700g new season gala apples, 700g pears, 1 punnet of fresh figs, 1 large rock melon and 800g bananas.

Sample Small Veggie Share ($18.00), March 2018:

1k potatoes, 200g perpetual spinach, a green cabbage, either 150g capsicums or corn , and either 400g courgettes or a Lebanese cucumber.

Sample Large Veggie Share ($36.00), March 2018:

1k potatoes, 200g perpetual spinach, 1 green cabbage, 300g radish, 200g kale, 120g salad mix, 350g carrots, 1 Lebanese cucumber, 150g mizuna greens, and 80g basil.

For more information on our shares, check out our latest newsletters online.

While we try to send the same produce in every bag, occasionally there won't be enough of one item and there will be an "either/or" item, e.g., "chard OR perpetual spinach".

Via our webstore you can add certain items we have in bulk extra if you like. Another way of dealing with produce you are not keen on/extra keen on is to talk to other members at your pickup point, as we have learned that everyone's taste buds are different and what you dislike someone else likes, and vice versa.

What if I do not like some types of produce? 

To make it work for a small farm like ours, and as our ecological mixed farm is very labour intensive we have to keep the shares as much the same as possible. As we are becoming more and more resilient and better set up (including software), we have introduced the option for members to choose a maximum of 3 ‘dislikes’, which mean that if you subscribe to one of these we will substitute with something else. It might mean you receive double of something else.

Can I pick what comes in the box and how much is in it?

Members can't choose what is in his/her box; all boxes are prepared as much as possible identically. However, we do understand that people can have allergic reactions and cultural dislikes. To accommodate this it is now possible to have up to 3 'dislikes'.  You can manage this from season to season in your own CSA buckybox account.  We love to hear what our members have to say about the box contents, please email us (csa@wefs.co.nz)

How do I join?

It's very simple.  Just visit our Bucky Box webstore and select the harvest share that best suits your household. Choose the collection point that best suits you. If you like to be part of a fund-raiser, choose the organisation you like to support. We donate 40% ($20) of the one-off membership fee directly to the school, and then share 5% of every share/box purchased by your members throughout the school term or  calendar year (whatever system you decide will work best for your organisation).

How does the CSA delivery system work?

Once you have joined, your name is on one of our weekly harvest and delivery lists. On Monday and Tuesday we harvest all the crops for that week. On Tuesdays and Wednesday we have a big pack out and on Wednesday and Thursday morning our local farm driver/courier drops it off at the different pickup locations in the region.

Each week, you go to your pickup location, during the time allotted, and pick up your share of fruit and vegetables to take home with you (we do offer door-to-door delivery, which incurs a packing and delivery fee).

Your harvest share will be individually packed within a hessian liner in a crate and carries your name. Bring your own shopping bag to take your share home. The idea is that you leave the crate and liner behind for collection so we can send your next week's delivery in it. This way we use the least amount of plastics.

What if I can't pick up my share during the allotted time?

It is important to find a way to get your share during the stated time frame. If you cannot get to the pickup location on time or are out of town, we suggest sending a friend or family member in your place. It's a great way to introduce the CSA to others. We cannot guarantee that CSA shares will be available outside of the stated pickup time. Check with your CSA host.

What if I'm going away?

You can pause your order at any time. If you are part of a 13-week CSA share, the 13-week cycle will extend for the number of weeks you are paused for. However, in line with the CSA principles, we encourage you to find friends or family to take over your subscription for those weeks, or to gift or trade them. This helps us immensely in our crop planning and reduces risks, giving the project more chance of success. And it is a nice way for you to introduce others to this project. It is also now possible to donate your share by going into your account and “buy” a donation through the shop for the week that you will be away. We will then know to gift your share that week to one of the local foodbanks.

How can I find information about cooking the produce in the CSA share?

There is an extensive selection of recipes listed on the Our Crops page.  In addition to that, the internet is filled with wonderful recipes based on seasonal produce.

What are the CSA host site/pickup requirements?

Yes, we are looking for members who are willing to be a pickup location for CSA deliveries. Please let us know your address, and we can assess the possibility of adding your location to our delivery route. We have a special arrangement for schools, day care centres and kindergartens who want to use our CSA as a healthy fundraiser.

What is required to be a host site/pickup location?

The short answer is, not much. It can be at your home or business. The CSA boxes simply need a cool, protected place that is easily accessible to members. It is not required to be present during the pickup, but it is necessary to provide contact information in case we need to reach you. The produce comes stacked in plastic veggie crates that the driver will pick up, so it is also necessary to have a bit of storage space for the CSA crates. We typically accept sites with room enough for 10–20+ boxes. As a host with a minimum of five people collecting from your place, you receive a gift fruit share.

When not to join? The CSA is not for you if:

  • You have a great veggie garden yourself and grow most of you weekly produce; we grow produce that is seasonal and local and thus pretty much what can be grown in your garden.
  • If you need/want to know exactly what you are going to get at the start of every week. The CSA share is a surprise every week. We have a rough idea what we will harvest every week, but much depends on the weather and circumstances in the garden. You need to be willing to be flexible in your cooking.
  • If you are out of town most of the time, and not able to pick up your weekly CSA share or if you are a convenience person, preferring not to commit to a whole season.

It is possible to order one-off baskets by contacting Josje, but to discourage this type of customer; the prices are 20% more expensive.  Why do we do this, to reinforce our CSA philosophies; we want to build up a membership that is based upon long-term partnerships, so we can both rely on each other to build a better place.

Do you grow everything yourself?

No, while we try to be as diversified as possible, we also work together with other mainly local growers (organic) to make sure our share have enough variety every week. This is an important part of our farming philosophy as we want to build and strengthen valuable relationships with like-minded people (growers and consumers).  Also, the growing conditions here in the Wairarapa is unsuitable for some crops such as kumara, kiwifruit, oranges and bananas, and those we source from further afield.

What is the Nitty-Gritty Agreement?

This is our CSA agreement which we ask you to sign when you join up as an active member.

It serves our members by letting them know about our farm operations and what it means to be a member of our CSA. While asking for a signature on a contract may seem like a formal way to welcome people into our farm community, our membership agreement is the first step toward establishing an understanding between us and our members.

Being upfront about our policies helps new members feel confident about joining our program; they know what to expect throughout the season and are reminded of what can happen if growing conditions are less than ideal.

What happens after the initial season ends?

Please note that your share automatically auto-extends into the next season, unless you pause it yourself in Bucky-Box or your email Josje at csa@wefs.co.nz.