Philly Beer

Beer, cheese, fruit, veggies: This might be Philly’s best CSA

Tired Hands collaborated with Birchrun Hills, Three Springs, Happy Cat and Valley Creamery to offer a weekly supply of everything good.

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Ardmore’s Tired Hands has joined up with several local producers to create what might be the best CSA in Philly.

If you’re familiar with the concept of a CSA — which stands for “community supported agriculture,” and allows farmers to pull in some much-needed cash before the growing season really kicks off — you might associate it with an overload of kale one week and Brussels sprouts the next.

But this one is different. It’s called a the “Fruit-Cheese-Beer-Veggies” CSA, and instead of creating a glut of leafy greens wilting in your veggie box, it’ll give you an ongoing excuse to indulge in homemade happy hours. It’s almost like a farmers market swung by a brewpub before landing at your house.

Each weekly share includes:

  • a four-pack of Tired Hands beer
  • a fresh cheese and an aged cheese from Birchrun Hill Farm and Valley Milkhouse
  • a tomato-heavy selection of vegetables from Happy Cat Farm
  • an ever-changing supply of fruit from Three Springs

Shares are picked up on Mondays at the Tired Hands Fermentaria. The cult favorite brewery first tried out a CSA last year, and it went so well that the program was expanded for 2017.

“We decided to ask Ben Wenk [of Three Springs] and Valley Milkhouse to be a part of it,” said Sue Miller of Birchrun Hills. “Because we all like each other and we want to introduce more folks to them.”

Miller participates in a few other CSAs, including one that’s just for cheese, but for Three Springs, this is novel.

“I’d see Tim from Happy Cat at Headhouse Market on Sundays,” said Wenk, “and he’d tell me all about distribution Mondays — that I should swing by.” Wenk never made it out, since the life of a fruit farmer who’s also starting his own cidery is pretty busy. But this winter, when he dropped off some bottles of cider for the brewery partners to try, the idea came up that his family’s Adams County farm should join in.

Wenk had always been wary of misuse of the term “CSA,” which some local boutiques or markets have appropriated to simply mean a program offering a prepaid curated collection of goods. The argument against stores using the terminology is that it undercuts the premise of providing off-season support for farmers (as retailers don’t face nearly the same seasonal challenges).

But in this case, Wenk noted, even though the selection in each weekly share will be varied, each of the contributors is an original producer.

“I can speak to Tired Hands’ commitment to local,” he said. “They are real life devotees of local agriculture.”

The cost for the 10-week program is $720, which might seem high until you break it down: $72 isn’t much more than you’d have to pay for just the cheese and beer and fruit alone, and in this case you’re also getting a helping of just-picked veggies.

Signups are now open, and since less than 50 spots are available, anyone interested should get on it right away.

Want some more? Explore other Philly Beer stories.

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