.

Residents Frustrated by Community Supported Agriculture Farm

Several people say Freedom Organix took their money without providing the promised organic produce share.

UPDATE: 9:45a.m. Wednesday, July 11

Editors Note: Barrington Patch received a phone call from Cynthia Nawiesniak this morning. She did not want to be interviewed or quoted, but did say she would like to submit a written reply via email at a future date. When we receive Nawiesniak's email, we will publish it. 

Meanwhile, Corryn Flahaven forwarded Barrington Patch an email written by Nawiesniak and addressed to all Freedom Organix CSA participants this morning. The email states that CSA boxes will be delivered this week, and cites the drought and severe temperatures as the delay. 

...

Signing up for a community supported agriculture share, or CSA, is one of the ways some Barrington residents stay healthy and support local farmers. However, several people say they were scammed out of hundreds of dollars after signing up for a CSA that never delivered.

For Barrington residents Heather Boehm and Corryn Flahaven, it all started when the CSA they had been participating in decided to cancel its program and refund money.

“I was crushed,” Boehm said. “I really enjoyed my CSA experience last year getting that fresh box of produce every week. I quickly researched to see of there were any other CSAs delivering to Barrington,” she said.

Boehm and Flahaven found a couple of CSAs with Barrington drop-off sites and eventually decided on Freedom Organix, a farm located in nearby Harvard. After contacting the farm’s owner, Cynthia Nawiesniak, Boehm found out there were still spots available and decided to sign up.

“They were listed with localharvest.org, which is the national organization that oversees Farmers’ Markets and CSAs,” she said. “I figured she’s got this professional website, she’s listed in local harvest, she’s very professional with her dealings with me, so I said what do I need to do to sign up.”

Boehm filled out an online application and mailed it off with a check for $819.09 the week of June 4. The money would pay for a box of produce and fresh eggs for 18 weeks, plus a holiday box and fresh eggs for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Once the check was mailed, Boehm got an email saying her application was received and more information would follow. Nawiesniak’s communication with Boehm virtually ceased at that point.

“I waited a week, a week passed, and nothing. On June 18 I emailed again. I assumed she was busy and cut her some slack. I said I haven’t heard anything about the start date, pick up times…nothing.” Boehm said. “That’s when I checked my bank account and my check was cashed on June 18.”

“Cindy was uber responsive whenever we emailed her questions before we signed up,” Flahaven said. “She did sent a really friendly response when she received our check and said to wait for details.” Like Boehm, Flahaven heard little from Freedom Organix once her check was cashed. 

Suspicions Rise

Boehm and Flahaven both tried contacting Freedom Organix again by email and did not receive a reply. Phone calls to the farm went unanswered, and the voicemail box was full.

Boehm decided to take matters into her own hands and did an Internet search about Freedom Organix. Her search brought her to Barrington Patch where the farm had posted an event regarding the CSA shares available.

After reading the comments related to the Barrington Patch posting, Boehm realized she wasn’t the only one who had a check cashed with no produce to show for it. Several comments on the event were written by Patch users in the same situation.

When Flahaven went to look at the Barrington Patch event listing, it had been removed by its creator, Cynthia Nawiesniak.

Investigation Continues

Boehm, an attorney, decided to contact the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office and an office dealing with Harvard businesses to see what could be done. The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office told her she could file a police report but has not done that at this time. The Harvard business office said the farm was out of their jurisdiction, but it wasn’t the first time someone had called regarding Freedom Organix.

Barrington Patch tried calling Freedom Organix to see what their response was to these allegations. Our phone call wasn’t answered, and the voicemail box was full. Our email to the farm also went unanswered.

“It’s really lame because we’re all trying to contribute to something good for the community. We want to help local agriculture and local farmers so that’s the most upsetting thing for me,” Flahaven said.

Several people who say they have been scammed by Freedom Organix say they’d like to file a class action lawsuit against them.

There are other options for those looking for a CSA with a Barrington pick-up site. recommends Sandhill Organics located in Grayslake.

Freedom Organix advertised drop-off points in the following communities:

  • Chicago-Edgebrook
  • Chicago-Irving Park
  • Chicago-Rogers Park
  • Barrington
  • Cary
  • Crystal Lake
  • Deerfield
  • Hoffman Estates
  • Lake Forest
  • Libertyville
  • Lake Zurich
  • Woodstock
  • Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Barrington Patch is not legally responsible for any content posted by Patch users.  

Say it isn't so July 12, 2012 at 01:13 AM
What was the point to publish these names and addresses?
Rose Zapel July 12, 2012 at 02:22 AM
We also paid for a share and got the same run-around from Cindy. She also said in an email that her database missed some people as an explanation for why we did not get emails. She placated me by saying, in an email on 6/20, that the shares will start the following week but still, nothing and no communication. She now has my email yet, we did not get the group email this morning. At least we know we are not alone. I will also plan to file a police report and perhaps go out to the farm. Not sure I feel comfortable going to her house although her home address was easy to find even without the person who posted it. I would be interested in connecting with other people who have had a problem as we may have more ability as a larger group. There are 6 complaints now, including mine, on the Local Harvest website under the listing for Freedom Organix so hopefully no one else will be ripped off by this CSA. Not sure at what point Local Harvest flags the CSA. I can well believe that this has been a brutal growing season for farmers but the farmer's markets have vegetables. This is all so unfortunate. When you sign up for a CSA, there is an element of shared risk since this is not like going to Jewel to buy lettuce. However, keeping the money and not giving anyone any produce certainly is not what anyone expected. And some people purchased meat and egg shares so it is making me wonder if there still is a farm there at all? Anyone know?
Brad Faxton July 12, 2012 at 10:49 AM
Dennis, did you even read this.... umm, article. (Not sure if this is even a news article or a complaint). What on earth does a list of names & the govt have anything what so ever to do with a CSA? Nothing.
Brad Faxton July 12, 2012 at 10:50 AM
Gotta second the recommendation for Sandhill Organics. We were a part of their CSA for a number of years, know the owner and their products. Outstanding.
Nordy July 14, 2012 at 02:19 AM
You guys are really off base. We're in the middle of a drought- heat and lack of rain and you guys wonder why you are not getting vegetables? GEEZ! My own vegetable. garden is FRIED because I missed watering it for three days! That's why some CSA's are refunding fees-- crops are getting wacked! Read the standard contract that most CSA's have you sign. Almost all of them have a clause that references poor harvests and weather related risks-- Did the Lawyer in this article even READ her contract? She signs a contract in June and threatens a class action suit in July- only 2-3 weeks later? Who's the scammer I ask you? This is a very poorly written and one sided article-would have been nice if the owner of Freedom Organix was interviewed before going to print with such a biased article. what was the hurry? Good way to ruin a small business with a previously good reputation spanning several years.
Dennis July 14, 2012 at 03:38 AM
I just wonder why people believe advertisments. Checking the property on Google Earth shows a lot that is too small to provide for more than one family! Cynthia Nawiesniak may or may not have sources for the food, but it is not on a lot that is 1200 by 550 feet in size. Something is not right and I always wonder why law enforcement can't clear up the missunderstanding. Everyone is to run out and hire a lawyer, for more than they spent to get supposed groceries from this tiny farmette.....
Nordy July 14, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Dennis-- I don't exactly understand how you are making your calculations or what your point is? That "farmette" is actually 20 acres. ( Looked it up in google too- LOL). One acre equals 4,840 square yards, 43,560 square feet or about 4,047 square meters. The property should be approx 871200 square feet. The math using your numbers only yields 660,000 square feet-- your short by about 211,200 SQ feet or just shy of 5 acres. 20 Acres is more than enough to operate a CSA on. Your previous two posts- (now deleted) - seemed very personal and also misidentified the property location. You seem very interested in this issue -do you have a personal issue with the owner?
Dennis July 14, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Nordy, why are you defending someone that refuses to talk to the clients? Refuses to talk to the Barrington Patch, won't answer the phone? I doubt that your going to find that much on even twenty acres, if indeed it exists. If I was dealing with the public, which I did for 46 years, I would face them and explain, I got rather good at it over time. I sort of wonder how you figured out the location, their ad says 8406 Maxon Road, Harvard IL 60033 and Google, which is pretty accurate is firmly placed on a small lot on the east side of Maxon Road. The Home to the right is hidden from view but looks really nice from up high! Again, Google with the right address and see if perhaps your chewing on the wrong chicken bone. Better yet stop by them and ask them what the matter is, it is a nice drive and since I was in Marengo yesterday and the GPS said it was only 8 miles away, I looked, did not see any cattle anywhere.... Oh, I deleted the two posts mainly because they annoyed you and I hoped you would go away ! "We had just over 4 acres in production for the 2010 season producing vegetables, herbs and flowers for our CSA, farmers markets and restaurants. The support of our members will mean that we will have 6 acres in production for 2011. The balance of our acreage is part of a managed grazing program for our herd of registered Polled Herefords, pastured heritage hogs, pastured chicken, pastured flock of layers, turkeys, and our pet Sebastopol geese"
Dennis July 14, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Nordy says "20 Acres is more than enough to operate a CSA on." Yes, that may be true, as long as there are only family members and a few cousins. But you start advertising and you can get overwhelmed by the excitment! Caused by good CSA's in the state.... Have a nice day!
Nordy July 14, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Dennis' I'm not going to get in a hysterical flamers battle with you- the tone of your posts pretty much says it all. I do have some past personal experience with agriculture myself. 1) 20 acres is sufficient for a small CSA (which they are). 2) 4 acres tilled and the remainder as pasture is adequate. Geese and chickens do not need all that much space. A few cows don't need that much space either. Additionally, you do not know if that is all the land she has or rents yet you publicly incite/ demean what has up to this point been a successful albeit small operation. This Barrington Patch article is a hatchet job and in my opinion it appeared to be very biased - incompletely investigated at best. (not to mention the obvious shill for another CSA at the end) That is why I first commented. I was more disappointed with the story and the writing style. 3) your math was wrong -PERIOD. If you have indeed been dealing with the public for 46 years- as you claim, You know there is always more to the story than is written. Posting personal residential information as you did was inflammatory and immature. Who made you the green goblin of justice? You never did answer the final question I posed but your posts pretty much suggest I may be close--do you have personal dispute with the owner? If you don't, driving out of your way to her farm just to look around is a little creepy and suggests you have your own issues. Have a Nice day Yourself!
Dennis July 15, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Nerdy! "I'm not going to get in a hysterical flamers battle with you" But you did and your defending someone who refuses to talk to her clients! As far as driving out there is creepy to you, for them to hide out there is even creepier! As I stated, I was in Marengo on business and their location is only 8 miles and why not go there as there is a really good lunch to be had in Harvard. Oh, I forgot, you never leave the house and presume that anyone that does is creepy.. Why are you taking such an issue with the Barrington Patch, have they defamed you or forced you out of the closet? As far as them being a shill in the Patch, I remind you of how it is presented: "Barrington Patch contributor and local chef Erin Bailey recommends Sandhill Organics located in Grayslake." why do you have a problem with that! Do you hate the patch that much? Why do you subscribe, no one else will talk to you, that is creepy too! I like the "Green Goblin" idea, but please use Upper Case!
Nordy July 15, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Dennis I didn't realize you were such a sensitive sort. Stay with the facts please and leave the invective at home in YOUR closet. My point was that you were inciting and factually incorrect. Criticizing my typing or grammer simply indicates you have no substantive factual response. Let me redirect you to http://lakezurich.patch.com/articles/local-farmers-struggle-during-drought-37a502db. Here the Owner of your beloved Sandhill Organics, Matt Sheafffer, basically echoes what I posted earlier. Sandhill is barely able to fill the 325 Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, shares they have each week. The primary reason is they have an irrigation system that is keeping them afloat. I bet Freedom Organix does not. ( I can't see one in place from your favorite info source - Google Maps either). According to the Illinois Agricultural Service 48% of the corn crop is rated "poor" or "very poor" due to weather and drought. Pretty much the whole state is suffering. Your beloved SandHill Organics also lost an entire field of lettuce despite increased irrigation. The owner commented his crop of carrots is also at risk.. Bottom line- My first post is probably correct. You appear to have no sense of what agriculture is other than the local grocery store. Mocking my name and typing contributes nothing.
Nordy July 15, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Dennis- I again noticed you did not answer the question I posted twice- Do you have a personal dispute with the owner?. The energy you put into this seems disproportionate. I don't hate the Patch but I do hate poorly written stories that are obviously incomplete. I disagree with you. Get over it! I had a problem with the shill because It was a hatchet job on Freedom Organix. How is it the Patch decided to take up the story? Why was Sandhill oh so conveniently mentioned after ripping another farm?. How interesting the story appeared so one sided considering the short timeline of events. Why no mention of previous activity with this small business or mention of its reputation to date? Have there been any Better Business Bureau complaints previously filed. Why no mention that other farms and agriculture across the entire state is suffering significantly? I'm sorry the tone of this story screams out that there is another agenda. Couple that with your inappropriate posting of the owners personal home address and your admitted visit to the farm make me question your motives
Dennis July 15, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Nerdy: "Dennis- I again noticed you did not answer the question I posted twice- Do you have a personal dispute with the owner?." "Criticizing my typing or grammer" Except you don't put a period after a question mark. That said, no I don't know them or done business with them, however I do not how the Internet works, one can post an ad and receive funds and then do what they have done, gone into your closet and are hiding out... Or read up on how in the 1960s in Germany, Switzerland and Japan started CSA's, or don't! Simple fact, so many are cheating so many others and you seem comfortable with that! I am only voicing what the people that seem to be out money are saying about this CSA! Since you still can't type and don't like my choice of a premier search engine, this rant of yours will no longer receive replies....Don't have a nice day!
Dennis July 15, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Dearest Nerdy: I have changed the settings on my account, I won't be received e-mail alerts on the Internet about your worthless retorts and bad spelling. I only hope that you can find a woman to beat up, since it doesn't bother me in the least how many punches you throw, they lack confidence and force. But you have gotten boring and stale, just like the food for your favorite CSA.
Nordy July 16, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Dennis. Have I nice day yourself anyway. I'm sorry your so angry. I hope a good nights sleep helps your obviously sour disposition. Two consecutive disrespectful posts. It appears that I hit a raw nerve. I fail to understand your comment about beating a woman and how that is relevant to this thread. I hope you reconsider your poor choice of words and remove the comment since it reflects poorly upon you and quite likely will offend any female readers. I do agree that this discussion has become stale and since you have failed to introduce any new facts into the discussion I agree that it should be closed. Best wishes. Nordy
Dennis July 16, 2012 at 03:42 AM
You really have to have the last word, must be as liberal too.. Of course you fail to understand, you probably fail at everything you do. "I only hope that you can find a woman to beat up, since it doesn't bother me in the least how many punches you throw, they lack confidence and force." You fai to understand that I consider anyone that beats up a woman is the lowest scum in the world, but that is the highest level I can allow you to exsist at.. A bottom dweller you are.
Rose Zapel July 16, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Just wanted to let you all know that we heard from Cindy in several emails and her updated newsletter on Wednesday and Thursday. She delivered our first box of vegetables on Friday and I had a great conversation with her. She did acknowledge that while we could all have anticipated that there would be issues with produce and gardening this year, she should have reached out with more communication. We have volunteered to be the site for our local CSA box drop off for Cindy and Freedom Organix and I am looking forward to getting to know her better. Veggies were great.
Nightcrawler July 16, 2012 at 09:42 AM
Journalism at its finest. Lol. Not even going to elaborate on that either.
Nordy July 20, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Dennis, Wipe your chin-- you’re foaming at the mouth. How embarrassing for you. After berating me for my typing and grammar, the last line of your last post has a misspelled 1 syllable word AND you placed TWO periods at the end of the same sentence. Please read Rose Zappels (one of her actual customers) update. It pretty much confirms what I said at the beginning of this discourse- combating the drought and extreme heat was likely taking most of her time fighting to maintain her livelihood. It’s unfortunate that the owner communicated a little slowly but then she’s not a fortune 500 Company with a dedicated customer service desk. Farming is a very hands on and personal endeavor. As far as your persistently lame personal attacks, my responses were designed to observe limits. Your japes were weak and unoriginal. I had no idea you skin was so thin. This thread was not about you rather it was about a small female operated business that had a communications problem with its customers-nothing more. Your posting her personal info, trolling around the farm spying on the woman and checking out the animals –is just—weird. Especially since you have no direct personal interest. Your demonstrated lack of respect for others, obvious intent to incite and your misogynist statements suggest you an in desperate need of a friend. I mean this when I say it- Have a nice day-it appears you really could use one!
Morgan Delack July 20, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Nordy, I had six people contact me within one day regarding the Freedom Organix CSA. They all told me they had no communication with the owner and hoped I could help them figure out what happened. I gave Cindy 10 days to respond to my request for an interview before publishing. She did call me when the article was published. I asked for the second time to hear her side of things. She refused. I can't ignore something when that many people are asking me for information. Especially since Freedom Organix involved Patch by posting this as an event on our website. I don't like writing a story without both sides represented, but there isn't much I can do when one side refuses interview.
Morgan Delack July 20, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Correction to my comment below: I gave Cindy nine days to reply to my email. Not the 10 that was originally stated. My mistake!
M.E. Carter July 23, 2012 at 09:06 PM
There are a lot of arguments here. But the bottom line is that many people, like myself, have been ripped off. One reviewer on localharvest.org stated that she had signed up for a Spring share and a summer share but did not receive the produce. The drought cannot be blamed for a lack of Spring vegetables. It also shouldn't have affected the early summer vegetables, when we were receiving adequate rain fall for growing. I also received no responses to emails and phone calls until the second week of July. Even then, when I was finally advised of my pick-up time and location, I arrived to pick up my produce to find no one there. I received no communication for a pick-up the following week. I can get no responses from her still. I understand some people are receiving produce now and are starting to forget the past frustrations. But others of us are still being ignored with nothing to show for it.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something