CSA DC

by Kriston Capps

by Flickr user thebittenword.com

by Flickr user thebittenword.com

A reader writes in to ask about community-supported agriculture (CSA) options in the District. Great Country Farms is a very popular local CSA farm but it delivers only within Northern Virginia, so the IFA opposes that one. Clagett Farm delivers in the District, but neither I nor any other Internet Food Associate is a member (that I know of).

Paying in bulk for vegetables I may or may not want doesn’t much appeal to me, especially since the weekend farmers’ markets are so conveniently located throughout the city and feature enough that I usually get what I want. I suppose there’s some appeal to supporting the farm with a subscription, but I feel that I support farms just fine by picking up nearly all my produce for the week at the farmers’ market on the weekend. And I think that the farm-to-door delivery model (offered by Great Country but not Clagett) is irresponsible: What if everyone did this? It runs contrary to the spirit of sustainability and good environmental stewardship that, I imagine, is at least part of the appeal of CSA.

But I speak from ignorance. Anyone have any experience with CSA in DC?

11 responses to “CSA DC

  1. We tried Fresh and Local CSA this year, selected mainly because of convenient pickup location and times, and have been extremely disappointed. Spotty delivery, very little variety, boring stuff — nothing compared to what you see at the farmer’s markets. The eggs have been fine, however. I would be interested in other folk s experience.

    http://www.localharvest.org/farms/M3917

  2. There was a recent post on Ask Metafilter about this very topic:

    http://ask.metafilter.com/130412/DC-CSA-411

  3. I tried Bull Run Farms — which delivers to 16th and P, NW — the last two summers and was disappointed. I didn’t buy in again this year.

    First, I didn’t think it was a good deal. I paid about $300 for a half share and it just didn’t seem like it was worth it. The first summer there was a pretty severe drought, which I thought might explain it, but it didn’t get much better last year.

    Second, you get a lot of stuff you don’t necessarily want. Kohlrabi would be a good example.

    Third, you don’t get enough of the stuff you do want. Like, what do you do with one beet or two tomatillas?

    I ended up having a lot of stuff go to waste, which I felt pretty guilty about. And, I live on 17th Street, really close to both the Whole Foods and the Dupont Farmers Market (and the Soviet Safeway), so it’s not like I’m lacking places to get produce.

  4. amandamattos

    I just signed up for the Washignton’s Green Grocer recommended in Emily’s link. I’ll be sure to review it once it gets going. Sounds like a really good thing — you can pick and choose what you want to have deliveredand stop delivery when you don’t want it.

    http://washingtonsgreengrocer.com/

  5. Not in DC but experiencing my first CSA in Philadelphia this summer….

    Evidently this puts me in the minority, but I really like getting stuff that I don’t necessarily want. It forces me to learn to cook/prep things that are unfamiliar and weird. I’ve also really gotten into pickling, which I find to be a great way to deal with any randoms that I have left over at the end of the week. What am I going to do with a single beet? Pickle it with some carrots and shallots!

    Our farm delivers to a bunch of different pick up places in the city, one of which is walking distance from our apartment, so I feel pretty ok about the environmental angle, too.

  6. We participate in a CSA program through Norman’s Farm Market, and pick it up weekly at their farmstand in Chevy Chase, MD. I like it because they offer a half-share option (good for 2 people) and let you select your own mixture of fruits and veggies based on what’s in season.

    If you’re interested, I’ve covered it at Food & Think (Smithsonian mag’s food blog):

    http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/food/2009/05/27/kicking-off-csa-season/

    And here:
    http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/food/2009/06/15/swiss-chard-pizza/

  7. I use a great CSA, which has pickups in Tenleytown and Adams Morgan, called Star Hollow Farms (http://www.starhollowfarm.com/store_orderproduce.htm). Its amazing, because it operates like a debit account – instead of merely choosing whether or not to get a CSA box, you can also order individual items ala carte through their online store.

    You pay $300 to join, and that functions as a debit account – you can continue to order weekly boxes ($15/wk) or ala carte until your $$ runs out.

    My one complaint is that occasionally items sell out of the store instantaneously (it can be very hard to get heirloom tomatoes and berries). But I would recommend joining whenever new spots open up.

    Also, Randy, the farmer, is a great guy, who puts up with my generally idiotic questions about the different between donut peaches and normal peaches, or red and yellow plums.

  8. My CSA ended last week, and I’m not entirely sad about it. It’s a lot of cooking.

    But, you’re sort of missing the point of the CSA, which is buying a share of that one farm.

    Yes, you are supporting farmers by shopping at the farmers market, but that $5 to one farmer and $10 to another isn’t quite the same as a $300 subscription, which really helps that farmer maintain his/her operation.

  9. I’m going to second the support for the Star Hollow Farm CSA. I’ve been a member since January and its been great. The debit system is really convenient, the quality is high and it runs year round. I enjoy trying new veggies and whatever i feel is lacking in the week’s box i can get a la carte or at the farmers market where i go to pick up the box. the market they run at 18th and Columbia is much more reasonably priced than the Dupont market and isnt nearly as crowded.

  10. Sometimes I miss living in DC, but reading this thread makes me happy to be in Boston. We have a lot of CSAs to choose from. My CSA happens to use Metro Pedal Power for its deliveries – it’s basically a huge tricycle. And my CSA occasionally delivers cheese and jam.

    I agree with arbequina… I like receiving things I wouldn’t normally purchase. It’s like my own little Iron Chef challenge every week! And I don’t mind repetition – after receiving kale for weeks on end, I branched out and tried new recipes.

    The only time I let anything go to waste was during Restaurant Week. I’ve just learned how to make jam, and pickling is next on my agenda.

  11. I am a member of both Clagett and Star Hollow (mentioned in the comments). I use the Clagett pick up at the farm option because it makes it easier for me to take advantage of their u-pick options (a great way to supplement items and get an even better value!). This is my 4th year with Clagett and I have been using Star Hollow for 1.5 years.

    I think about the only thing I buy at a grocery store any more is citrus for my cocktails :-)

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