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Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ April 2015

Check Out the CSA Possibilities in Montgomery County

By Sondra Katz

For those who like healthy, locally grown (which may include neighboring states) produce without having to drive from farm to farm, a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program may be just what you are looking for.  There are quite a few CSAs offering drop-off sites near our neighborhood.  Most CSAs provide produce during the summer, but a number of them also have offerings in the spring and fall and there are a few that deliver year-round.

CSAs (and farmers markets as well) are a way to try out new vegetables and fruits and most of the farm websites include recipes and descriptions of the vegetables and fruits.  In addition, you will be helping to support family farms.  Farmers get help with their cash flow and you get healthy and fresh food with minimum to no pesticides.  Many farms are organic, and meats will not be from factory farms.

CSAs generally offer two sizes:  either full/large or half/medium.  The large size is usually listed as being for a family of four (two adults and two children), while the medium is suggested for one or two adults.  The selection is usually the same items but the half share will be fewer of each item.  The number of items will vary depending on the CSA.  Most will offer weekly produce with the farmers selecting what’s available on their farms, but a growing number are offering the ability to pick out one’s selection each week.  This can be done online by a deadline or by coming to a farmers market and selecting what’s available.

Things to consider as you think about a CSA (from the localharvest.org website):

The localharvest.org website also suggests asking yourself the following questions to decide if a CSA is right for you (think about your family members as well).

  1. Do I eat a lot of vegetables?
  2. Do I like to cook and does my schedule allow me to make homemade meals most evenings?
  3. Will it be fun to try vegetables that are new to me?
  4. How will I handle excess produce?  (Do you have a neighbor who would like to get some veggies if you’re unable to eat it all?)  Feeling bad about wasting food is one of the top reasons former CSA members cite for not renewing.
  5. Am I willing to accept the unknowns involved in “shared risk”?  “Shared risk” means members share with the farmer the risk that some crops might do poorly due to bad weather, pest problems, and the like.  With so many crops included in a CSA, it is expected that, even if some languish, others will flourish and there will be plenty of food overall.  Members pay the same whether it turns out to be a bumper year or a skinny one.

When comparing CSAs, note whether fruits are included in the basic share; some have them, but as an option that costs extra.  Beef, chicken and eggs, dairy, and bread are also additional cost items.  Check if the CSA is totally organic if that is important to you (some use integrated pest management or pesticides only as a last resort) as well as if the pickup location and hours are convenient for you.

The following CSAs are some of the ones that have a pickup location in the Four Corners area within several miles or have a pickup at the Farmers Market in downtown Silver Spring on Saturday.

Bending Bridge Farm
bendingbridgefarm.com
Wed. 4–8 p.m. on Spring St.

Calvert Farm
calvertfarm.com
Wed. 5–7 p.m. on Brisbane St. (Forest Glen)

Dragonfly Farms
dffarms.com
Early Sat. morning on Georgia Ave. near Beltway

Evensong Farm
evensong-farm.com
Sat. from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. at Silver Spring Farmers Market

From the Earth Foods and Country Pleasures Farm
mocoalliance.org
Sat. from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. at Silver Spring Farmers Market

Hungry Harvest
hungryharvest.net
Fri. late afternoon/evening, delivered to your home

Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative
lancasterfarmfresh.com

Orchard Country Produce
orchardcountryproduce.com
Fri. on Newport Mill Road

Shallowbrooke Farm
shallowbrookefarm.com
Wed. 2:30–8 a.m. in South Four Corners

Spiral Path Farm
spiralpathfarm.com
Sat. 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the Sil. Spr. Farmers Market

The Farm at Our House
thefarmatourhouse.com
Sat. 9 a.m.–1 p.m. at the Silver Spring Farmers Market

The Farm at Our House helps at risk youth with farm jobs.  Hungry Harvest collects surplus food that is perfectly fine but doesn’t meet grocers’ or restaurants’ specifications.

The above is a sampling and you can check further at a few websites that have collected information about area CSAs.  These are:

If you don’t want to commit a lot of money in advance, farmers markets are an alternative.  Again, there are a number of them within easy driving range, although most only have morning hours.  Lists can be found at washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/lifestyle/dc-farmers-markets-interactive-map.  This map is from June 2015 and is updated each year.  It allows you to look day-by-day as to when markets are open, as well as the hours and locations.   ■


   © 2015 NFCCA  [Source: https://nfcca.org/news/nn201504d.html]