Hello faith in plants friends! GC and I recently joined a Community Supported Agriculture program, or CSA. Have you heard of them before? You get a weekly delivery of fresh produce from a local farm. It is seriously awesome for so many reasons: you are supporting local farmers and the local economy, getting fresh food, learning how to cook crazy vegetables…so many great things! I was part of a CSA back in college, and loved the experience. I got some veggies I had never seen before (kohlrabi, anyone?), as well as a 20 pound watermelon I had to lug home a mile another time. My roommate and I named the watermelon Bertha and later made melon smoothies for our whole freshman year floor.
When we moved to Virginia, I knew we wanted to join a CSA here. We did TONS of research on which one was best for us and our needs. We looked at several factors to make our decision, including:
- Pick up location, day, and time
- Number of weeks in season
These are the factors that were important to GC and me. Another important thing to consider is their vacation policy–some CSAs will let you skip a week and pick up double the following week, others operate on a ‘use it or lose it’ system.
There are several online resources that are great for finding local CSAs.
- Local Harvest is a great site that lists CSAs and other local food. You can enter in your zip code and filter the results to find a farm that fits your needs.
- For the DC area, the Washington Post has a wonderful interactive map of CSA drop off locations.
I used both of these to do some background research but ultimately I made a table to do my comparison. You can download a template of my CSA Selection workbook I created to help you in organizing your own research! Please note–all of these looked absolutely amazing when I was researching them.
|Certifications||Pick Up Distance, Day, & Time||Cost||# Weeks||Cost/ Week||Notes|
|Lancaster Farm Fresh Coop||Organic||.5 miles
|$825||26||$32||Can add on fruit, natural medicine, bread, etc|
|Groundworks Farm||Organic|| .7 miles
|Spiritual Food for a New Millennium||Biodynamic & Organic|| 1 mile
|$2000||52 (year long)||$38||Includes bread & eggs, option to do 6 week trial|
|Bull Run Farm||Chemical Free|| 3 miles
|$700||20||$35||Fruit share add on, $120/season full share or $65/ season half share|
|Rainbow Hill Farm||Organic||3 miles
|Earth Spring Farm||Organic practices (not certified)||4 miles
|$500||20||$25||Can do customizeable shares for another $60, fruit shares 20 weeks for $100|
|Potomac Vegetable Farms||Ecoganic||1 mile
|$576||16||$36||Option to do fall for additional 8 weeks, can also add flowers and fermented foods|
We ultimately decided to go with Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative for a few reasons: they are certified organic, the pick up location was closest to our house, we could go after work hours, and they have unique “Natural Farmacy” and “Veganize It!” add ons that you can do. They are actually a group of over 100 organic farms in the region that have formed this cooperative network. I’m sure any of these farms would have been great–the important thing is to support local farmers and get the healthiest, freshest food for yourself and your family.
We’ve been really happy with them so far. We pick up our food once a week from a volunteer’s house. They have a pretty good system. The first week someone accidentally took our bread and pantry item (part of the “Veganize It” share we get in addition to veggies) but they sent extra for us the next week so it was completely fine! I am hoping to sign up for their Natural Farmacy during the summer.
We’ve been getting so much food that it is starting to take up serious space in our fridge. Everything we’ve made has been fresh and delicious, and the root vegetables we have are great for longer term storage. Below is a photo of one week’s veggies from the CSA…seriously an amazing amount of food for the price.
You should have everything you need to get started joining your own CSA now! Let me know if you have any questions when you are doing your research and I can try to help.