Friday, November 11, 2011

Gemüsekiste: farm share boxes in Germany

So I ordered a trial farm share box for this week, a Gemüsekiste from a farm west of Berlin. In Germany they seem to do these boxes much differently than in the US.

In case you're not familiar with the "CSA" system in the US (which I only know through friends who have done it), the typical farm share is a mix of vegetables in season from local farms. You don't choose what you get; you have to get creative with what's in season. You can choose between a "whole share" or a "half share" and it's usually available once a week, you pick up at the farm or at the farmer's market.

In Germany, this works differently. You can pick individual items, and you seem to have more flexibility with how much you get and how frequently. In looking into this for Berlin, I found about 4-5 different farms to choose between, all with websites where you could order online. Online shopping for veggies! One kilo of potatoes, some mache greens, into the "shopping cart." Or you can choose a mixed box, with the options of fruit/veg mix, just veggies, regional veggies, etc. Then you decide whether you want 10 EUR, 15 EUR, or 20 EUR worth of veggies (for example). So it seemed more flexible in terms of price and size. You could also choose between weekly delivery and every-other-week delivery. Some sites offered regional produce, or produce from their own farm, others put together boxes from different farms, and even include "exotic" organic produce from outside of Germany. So you can opt for a box that includes organic bananas and avocados, or one that is from the farm's own harvest. Often you can also add non-produce products as well. You can have them add in a "cheese of the week" or "bread of the week" or milk with the delivery, among many other items.

I found one site that looked like a good one to try. Their website wasn't as good as some of the others, but they have quite a few things from their own farm, and they offered a "trial box". Rather than order individual items, I just told them to put together a selection for 16 EUR, as much stuff from their own farm as possible. This is what we got: Rote Bete, Möhren, Mangold grün, Kartoffeln festkochend, Pastinaken, Knollensellerie, Weißkohl, Posteleinsalat, Äpfel Cox Orange, Spaghettikürbis. Okay, although you might not understand all the German, I am sure there are also some things in this picture you don't recognize. We had to look up: Pastinake = parsnip, Knollensellerie = celery root. So if you have ideas about what to do with these things, I will welcome any advice. The spaghetti squash is exciting. :) And I love the tasty little apples. They never taste that good from the supermarket!

I don't know if I'll sign up for regular delivery. It's a bit expensive (16 EUR for the above pictured), and there is a weekly organic market right around the corner. But I wanted to just try it out and see what it's like.


  1. So what are you going to make with the celery root? I'd be clueless. I guess that's one of the hidden perks of getting mixed boxes like this - something in it might inspire one to try out a new recipe!

  2. Mein Papa kocht gern mit Knollensellerie. Ich denke, er macht... die Brühe oder den Eintopf? You could use celery stock in a pot pie with the parsnips and potatoes. Yum.