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The Bounty of Community Supported Agriculture

Buying a share in a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture – gives you a season of locally grown fruits, herbs and vegetables and supports our local farmers.

The growing season has started, and I’m into the second week of my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Two weeks of stopping off after work every Wednesday to pick up a box filled with greens, mushrooms, herbs and scallions.  A week of fresh organic produce from local farms. 

‘What did you get in your box?’ emailed a co-worker the morning after my first pick up last week.  I rushed over to tell her every detail – the email the night before listing what we’d receive that week, another email the next day with recipes for what we’d picked up.   Another friend emailed, regretting that her CSA doesn’t start for another month and happy that she’d found rhubarb at the farmers market last weekend.

CSAs Provide Weeks of Vegetables, Fruit, Herbs and More From Local Farms
As odd as it may sound, CSAs are ‘the bomb’ this season.  Representing a share of the produce from a local farm or group of local farms, CSAs might run for the summer or the entire growing season.  While they run, share owners reap the bounty.  Most CSAs are organic, and many are also selling their produce at farmers markets or to local stores with a focus on organic food such as MOMs or Whole Foods.   

While most focus on fruit, vegetables and herbs, some also offer flowers, dairy products and meat.  Farms sell CSA shares or half shares and then deliver whatever is in season each week to a central location for pickup by the shareowners.  A CSA is a commitment, but it’s a commitment well worth it if you love fresh local produce.  When you join a CSA, you pay for the entire season and in return you receive ‘picked that day’ produce and the chance to truly eat seasonally and locally for an extended period.  It’s a nice rhythm, and it’s comforting to move with the growing season, starting with greens and scallions, moving on to berries and broccoli, then corn and tomatoes before ending with squash, potatoes and apples as the growing season ends.

Some CSA Shares Still Available at Local Farms
Believe it or not, demand for CSA shares are high, and you have to move fast to claim your share.   Aliabaad Farms in Sharpsburg is still selling shares for the summer but most farms in Montgomery County have waiting lists at this point in case shares become available, or the growing season is strong and farms can accommodate more shares.  However, it's worth pursuing if you are still interested in purchasing a CSA share for the season.   A list of local farms on the website of the Montgomery Countryside Alliance is a good start.  Asking specific farmers at farmers markets might also be a source as well.

Montgomery Countryside Alliance Encouraging More Farmers to Grow and Sell Produce Locally
No room at the farm you’d like to support?  Don’t be discouraged.   When demand is high, the market responds.  There is always next year, and shopping at local farmers markets or checking with MOMs and Whole Foods about the farms they buy their produce from may help you locate the farms you’d like to focus on next year when it’s time to sign up for a CSA.  The demand is clear, and there are efforts to increase the availability of locally grown produce in the area. 

The Montgomery Countryside Alliance is encouraging more farmers to grow food for local consumption in the Agricultural Reserve.  “We need to get more farmers on the ground in and around the Reserve to meet the massive public demand from local, sustainable food,” says Kristina Bostick of the Montgomery Countryside Alliance.

So, whether you have a CSA share right now, buy your produce at farmers markets, or shop at local stores enjoy this time of year as nearly all of us switch to eating local in one form or another.  And, if you have a favorite farm that offers CSA shares please tell us about it.  We’d like to hear!

Joana Bragg May 30, 2011 at 02:42 PM
CSA are available for pick up at Whole Foods Market Bethesda (5269 River Rd)...arrange your CSA through Dragon Fly Farms in Mt. Airy, MD at dffarms.com or email: info@dfarms.com & pick it up at our River Rd store every Saturday through October...pick ups started 5/21 but slots are still available.

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