Spring is on the horizon, DC. And what better way to celebrate the fact that longer days, sunnier skies and warmer temps are in our future than with a CSA (community-supported agriculture) share? If you want to get in on the fresh and local produce action, we have a few suggestions for CSAs in the DC metro area.
Basically, a CSA share is a great way that you, as a consumer, can support local farmers in your area and get fresh fruits and vegetables at the same time. When you buy a CSA share, you'll get a box (or bag) of fresh produce weekly (sometimes biweekly or even monthly). It benefits you, as a food lover, because you know exactly where your food is coming from, and it benefits the farmers because they have some income up front, rather than relying on the profits from what they sell to local stores or at farmer's markets. I think CSAs are often because they encourage people to cook with different ingredients they might not be used to (Jerusalem artichokes, anyone?) and truly understand what it's like to eat seasonally.
Everything grown by Lancaster Farm Fresh, a CSA run out of Lancaster County, PA (that's Amish country), is certified organic. You can also buy into a flower share, an herbal medicine share, cheese share and an organic egg share via their organization. Basically, this place is the one-stop-shop if you're a local and traditional food lover. Sign up for the 2013 season here. Smucker Farms is another Lancaster-based CSA that's popular in the District, and they're currently accepting applications for spring and summer.
You may recognize Star Hollow Farm from the Adam's Morgan farmer's market, but they also offer a CSA (which you can pick up at the farmer's market). A good option if you live in or near that neighborhood. Big White Barn, of Buckeystown, MD, delivers all over the DC area. Foodie bonus: Bryan Voltaggio, the celebrity chef and restaurateur, often sources his ingredients from this 10,000 acre farm, so you could be eating the very same leeks that a chef is plating over at Volt or Range.
Bull Run Vegetable Farm runs a well-known CSA that has drop-offs in Dupont, Capitol Hill, Arlington, Alexandria, and Manassas. Karl's Farm of Pisgah, MD will deliver your CSA right to your door (for an extra fee, of course) in locations inside the Beltway.
Lei Kei Farms LLC offers door-to-door bicycle delivery in the Alexandria area. CSA members get first priority for produce, which is mainly vegetables and herbs, although they do grow a few fruits. Potomac Vegetable Farm has a full 550 members in their CSA program, so it's gotta be good, right? With two locations in northern Virginia, including one in Loudoun county, this CSA is innovative: they even offer at-work delivery! Delivery locations are in Arlington, Alexandria, Bethesda, Reston, Fairfax and offices in DC and VA on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Potomac Vegetable Farm also offers a variety of shares, ranging from mini to "robust," so you can get the amount of produce that makes sense for you and for your family.
Sign up for one of these (or one of the many other CSAs at area farms) early to enjoy the fruits (literally) of a local farm's labor well into the growing season.