5 Unique DC Area CSA’s
(Community Supported Agriculture Programs)
Local, organic food is always a good idea. It’s good for the environment, the economy, the community and our personal health and wellness. In the DC area, we are lucky to be surrounded by an abundance of local food options—the bread, produce, meat and dairy baskets overfloweth. There are a multitude of small, organically run farms within a 100 mile radius of DC and about seventy CSA options available in the area. In a CSA (community supported agriculture) model, community members pay a set share at the beginning of the growing season to a local farm that then guarantees the shareholder a portion of the farm’s bounty. CSA members receive a weekly, or bi-weekly share of produce and other local farm grown food products including grass fed meats, free range poultry, cheese, bread and dairy. Farmers benefit from receiving share profits early in the season, and can securely grow more and better quality food. Becoming a member of a local area CSA is one of the best ways to support sustainable, earth-friendly food production—you enjoy a variety of nutritious, seasonal foods that arrive to you with minimal food miles and free of pesticides; and local area farmers can continue to do what they do best. CSA’s are growing in diversity and flexibility--many now offer flexible payment plans, additional, handcrafted specialty products, delivery options and more.
So, the ballots are in—joining a CSA makes you a local food super hero, but how to choose? With so many wonderful options, it can be difficult to wade through the swiss chard and artisanal cheese to find the CSA that is right for you. Don’t let the abundance of bounty overwhelm you—the increasing variety and flexibility of CSA options guarantees that there’s something out there for everyone. So, back away from your urge to dash to the nearest chain supermarket and remember that you could soon be eating fresh, local, organic food—you could even have it delivered to your doorstep. Check out these five unique DC-area CSA’s and the farms and farmers that make them so special. Also, be sure to check out the DC Local Harvest webpage, which allows you to search by area, view CSA details, pick up locations with maps and more.
Farm to Family. Richmond, VA
Farm to Family is a 501-c3 non-profit and a farmers’ market on wheels. The organization got its start in a converted school bus in 2009 and now serves the DC area as a mobile market bus and education center that brings fresh local food and information about sustainable agriculture to urban communities. The Farm Bus picks up fresh food from local farms, boxes it up and delivers it to multiple locations in the DC area—all the while educating youth and other citizens about the local food movement. The spring share begins in April and runs for 24 weeks. Payment plans are available and the membership fee is waved when you pay the full share up front. Check out their website and blog, their Local Harvest page, or their Facebook for more information or to sign up for the CSA that is truly giving back to the community that supports it.
Little Farm Stand. Middleburg, VA
Recently voted DC’s best farm share/CSA, Little Farm Stand is also DC’s first farm stand and the only area CSA to offer free delivery. That’s right—fresh, local produce delivered to your door at no additional cost. The 2015 CSA will begin in June and run for 20 weeks, but don’t wait to sign up—shares are first come first serve and are going quickly. In addition to being extremely convenient, Little Farm Stand is likely DC’s most flexible CSA option. Your share cost can be applied to anything available from the farm stand, you never loose your balance if you don’t use it and weekly box options are easily customizable. Find more information about this family run farm and sign up for their CSA at their website. Be sure to check out their Local Harvest page for additional information.
Spiritual Foods for the New Millennium CSA. Bethesda, MD
For the dedicated farmers at The School of Life Educational Society, farming is more than a way to fill a basic human need—it’s a way of life that celebrates and cares for the Earth. Spiritual Foods for the New Millennium CSA offers biodynamic produce, eggs, dairy and more in a year-round CSA model with multiple drop off locations in the DC area. Want to try it out before you commit? Spiritual Foods offers a 6-week trial period to new members for $275, with the balance prorated to rest of season if you decide to join. Find their registration form (complete with pick up locations) here and check out their website for more information.
Fresh and Local CSA. Shepherdstown, WV
Is super-nutrition your thing? Check out Fresh and Local CSA, featuring biodynamically grown produce harvested for maximum nutrition. The farm raises nutritionally-dense heirloom vegetables and incorporates soil science to ensure you receive the best quality food, while the health of the land remains a priority. The CSA season starts in June and runs for 20 weeks. Check out their Local Harvest page and visit their website for DC drop off locations, more information and to sign up for this one of a kind CSA.
Bull Run Mountain Farm. The Plains, VA
DC’s oldest CSA, family-run Bull Run Mountain Farm has been farming the highest mountain in the Bull Run Mountains since the 1960’s. The CSA is in its 20th year of providing chemical and pesticide free produce to the DC area. The CSA offers convenient DC drop off locations including Dupont Circle and others. Find more information from Local Harvest here or learn more about this unique and historic farm and sign up for their CSA on their website.