UPDATE April 2013: We have FINALLY gotten food for the money we paid up front to the farm. It was an endless back and forth with them for all these months trying to settle up. We ended up getting a variety of meat at retail prices and it took two pick-ups. They did things like gives us lamb “stew meat” that was mostly bones. We love soup bones – but not for the price of meat! I cannot stress enough that you should be wary of joining this farm! They have a great vision and are nice people personally, but seriously lack business and communication skills.

UPDATE July 2012: I can no longer recommend this farm. Only 2 weeks in to our membership they stopped delivering and instead required pick-up at the farm each week. We were not able to do this, and as of March 2013 we still have not been refunded what we paid up front, or received an equivalent amount of food. Please do your homework if you are considering them!

C’est Naturelle Farms raises veggies, herbs, meat, dairy, eggs, and poultry products about 20 miles from our home. Of course if we want lemons and avocados and coconut oil we still go to the store, but they grow a substantial amount of what we eat regularly.

Beginning July 1st, C’est Naturelle is offering something called a “Full-Diet Farm” membership. This is a whole new concept to me and now that I understand it I’m really excited about it! Here’s how it works: we pay a set annual fee per person in our household and then we get to order all the food we can eat each week for that year. Their mission is for all of us to be able to eat like farmers, even when farming is not our calling in life.

Ok, that’s the simple version and that didn’t really register with me at first, so I’ll explain it in more detail.

Farm membership goes by household. The first member costs $2500, the second $2100, and the third $1700 for the year. For us this is $6,300 a year, or $525 a month. They have a $10k cap if you have a large family, and kids have a different price structure. We put up a $500 deposit and we’ll pay the rest in monthly installments to make it easier to budget.

Compare that to what we do now.

We eat a whole-food, GAPS-style diet that includes lots of animal products and veggies and we spend about $300-400 per person per month. So, say an average of $1100 a month. I know that’s a lot, but we love delicious food and make it a priority every meal! Even with buying lemons, etc. at the local store we’re bound to spend less on the Full-Diet membership.

How do they know what we eat? They had us fill out a spreadsheet saying what we like and how much we use. It wasn’t like we had to plan our meals for an entire year. It was more like, “yes we eat about two pounds of carrots and a pound of butter a week, and two turkeys a year.” They just need a rough estimate of what people like so they don’t end up with a thousand pounds of beets that nobody wants and only enough spinach for 5 families.

Part of eating like a farmer means, well, eating like a farmer. Preserving for the cool season. Making use of all the animal, including the organs, fat, and bones. C’est Naturelle encourages us to order enough to preserve what we want to have year round. There was a section on the spreadsheet where we could say that we’d like a large amount of a veggie to can or freeze. But they do have a freezer to keep meat in, so we don’t have to have an entire steer in our freezer to get the best deal on beef. We can just let them know what meat we want each week.

I had a hard time believing that they would be ok with a diet so dependent on animal products. I felt like we were taking advantage of them. They don’t feel that way at all and other farmers who use this model haven’t found it to be an issue either. There’s no need to hoard food. They’re planning with all of us and there will be something every week. It’s our job to make use of it when it’s in season.

Another great benefit is that they’re delivering to our house. Since it’s going to be the bulk of what each family eats in a week it’s too much to leave at a drop site. All the more convenient!

Anybody have advice on Foodsavers? It’s on my list to shop for now!

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