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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. 

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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.  

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.

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