Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ December 2011

Buying Fresh Produce Directly from the CSA Farmer

By Jacquie Bokow

More people want to eat healthier; reduce their carbon footprint; support independent, small farmers; and introduce their families to eating real (not processed) food.  CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) is one of the best ways to connect people directly to their food and the farmers who grow it.  We have an opportunity to start a CSA site here in our community by working with Sandy Spring CSA.

Unlike farmers markets, CSA commits the participant to eating fresh produce (called a “share”) every week throughout the growing season.  Because participants pay the farmer upfront in Dec.-Jan.-Feb., the independent family farms fare better financially and in terms of planning what and how much to grow.

“Swap” boxes let you replace one item you don’t want with something else.  Empty share boxes are returned, either the following week or on the spot.

Sandy Spring CSA serves as a metro-area marketing coordinator for Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative (LFFC).  They have operated since 2002, helping metro-area eaters connect with local, organic farmers.  All produce is certified organic, grown by a nonprofit cooperative of 75 Amish farmers in Lancaster County, Pa.  You can read about them at

Getting Started

The first step is for someone in the community to volunteer his/her garage or porch or other covered area as a “site.”  A site host offers his/her space — from mid-May through October — for CSA members to drop by and pick up their share boxes.  In return, the site host receives a free organic veggie and fruit share.  Thirty paid shares are required to start a site.

Here are the basics.

A “share” box at the Kemp Mill site the day before Thanksgiving contained a multitude of fresh-picked, organic veggies.

All SSCSA members are automatically enrolled in LFFC’s online buying club at no added cost.  Through this program, members have the option to purchase local meat, cheese, yogurt, milk, eggs, honey, etc., from LFFC farmers, to be delivered with their CSA shares each week.  These orders are delivered in separate coolers and labeled by customer name.

Sandy Spring CSA has been operating for 10 years, bringing weekly veggies directly from local farmers to conveniently located sites in Montgomery County (churches, schools, homes).  You can learn more about them at [now defunct].

These share boxes, stacked under cover in a Kemp Mill carport, await pickup by Sandy Spring CSA participants.

If you’re interested in hosting, you need a covered area (e.g., garage, porch, or overhang) where share boxes can be stacked completely out of the sun and rain.  It may also be inside a building, as long as doors are unlocked.  For a home site, the ideal capacity is to hold up to 75 boxes stacked.  For a nonresidential site, there is no limit to the number of boxes.  The location needs to be clean, accessible, and with ample parking on the street or in the parking lot to allow members 5-10 minutes each to pick up.

If interested in hosting a site, contact Erin Johnson, 301.438.3927 or erin AT sandyspringcsa DOT com.  Complete information about participating is located at www.sandy [site no longer active].

Hear More at the December Meeting

Erin will be at the NFCCA 14 December meeting to talk more about the CSA experience and having a site in our community.  However, it is important to try to identify a volunteer to host before that time to allow members to take advantage of an early-bird discount that ends 15 January for the Spring/Summer 2012 season.  So contact Erin ASAP if you’re interested.   ■

   © 2011 NFCCA  [Source:]