By Tracy Brinkerhoff
With DC temperatures in the single digits, I’m going to guess that your search history includes “hot chocolate recipes” and “when does House of Cards return?” instead of “local organic tomatoes” or “what to do with kohlrabi.” As a distraction from the endless winter, I am here to remind you that it’s already time to sign up for or renew your CSA subscription for the 2015 season!
Are you wondering what CSA stands for? Have you considered joining one in the past but have outstanding questions or reservations? If so, check out last year’s post on the ins and outs of CSAs.
Once you’ve made the decision to broaden your culinary skills, support your local economy, and enjoy the benefits of local, organic vegetables, the next step can be overwhelming: choosing which CSA to join.
We have the wonderful problem of living in a region with a variety of CSA options. I suggest that you start by addressing your biggest challenge or reservation to participating in a CSA. For example, if you’re most concerned about finding time to pick up your shares, choose a CSA with convenient pick up locations near your home or office. If you worry your culinary skills aren’t up to par, choose a CSA that provides weekly recipes and tips for handling your veggies. If the price tag is your biggest concern, choose a CSA with a flexible payment plan or a workshare option.
To help you further narrow down the plethora of options available to DC area residents, I’ve highlighted a few stellar CSAs. If you belong to a CSA that wasn’t mentioned in this post, please comment below and be sure to include what makes your CSA great!
Star Hollow Farm, located in Southern PA, runs a year-round CSA with bi-weekly Saturday pickups at the Adams Morgan Farmer’s Market. This CSA is run through an online store; members deposit money upfront in increments of $300 and shop online the Wednesday before a Saturday pick-up. If you’re looking for the traditional uncertainty of CSA, they offer a “surprise box,” but also make it easy to customize your order with add-ons. Star Hollow Farm starts you off with a trial order and does require one two-hour volunteer shift (in DC) per year. They are currently accepting new members!
Best Accompanying Blog
Clagett Farms, located in Upper Marlboro, MD, is offering full shares and half shares for the 2015 season. This CSA is affiliated with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and has a pick up location in Dupont Circle. What really makes Clagett Farms stand out is the blog. Updated weekly, it includes volunteer opportunities on the farm, recipe ideas, predictions for upcoming shares, tips on storing, canning, and freezing veggies; and photos and Instagram posts from CSA members.
Share for One
Orchard County Produce, located in Gardners, PA, offers a personal share option. The share contains five total items, including one fruit. The CSA season is divided into three seven-week blocks of time: spring, summer, and fall. A personal box runs $95 for seven weeks, which comes out to under $14 per share.
For the Carnivores
Evensong Farm, located in Sharpsburg, MD, has developed a non-traditional CSA system. By depositing a minimum of $250 into your account during the month of March, you receive a 10% discount on all Evensong purchases made at their locations in Penn Quarter and Silver Spring and a 15% discount at the farm. The buyers club system follows the upfront payment principle of a CSA, but allows for total customization of Evensong products such as pork, chicken, beef, eggs, and a limited amount of herbs and vegetables. This CSA is also woman-owned and operated!
For the Travelers
Walnut Springs Produce, located in Southern PA, lets you pick five, 10, or 20 weeks out of their 25 week season to receive shares. They also provide the flexibility of receiving five or eight units of produce each week and price accordingly. This CSA would be perfect for those who can’t commit to a weekly or bi-weekly share.
If You’re Eager to Get Started
Glen’s Garden Market, a grocery store and restaurant, offers a 10 week Spring CSA with produce from Chesapeake Bay farmers that begins April 1st. You can pick up your two-person sized share anytime after 2pm on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday from their location in Dupont Circle. Grab a sandwich and a six-pack of your favorite IPA while you’re there!
I recommend signing up for your CSA subscription by mid-March because shares can sell out! And while you’re dreaming of the summer squash and arugula in your future: House of Cards returns February 27th.
Tracy Brinkerhoff, a recent graduate of The College of William & Mary, is a healthcare consultant, environmentalist, feminist, and aspiring yogi.