Tag Archives: vegetables

Welcome to Local Veggies

21 Feb

For several years, we’ve gotten most of our produce through a CSA. I’ve gotten a bunch of questions about it, so I wanted to share my own experiences.

What is a CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Many smart people have explained it better than I can, so I’ll keep this pretty simple. Food is super important to being alive. Farming is hard. I don’t want to be a farmer, but I do want to have good food. So I, as a member of the Community, can Support my local Agriculture by buying local food. It’s really hard to be a farmer, and it’s really risky. CSAs spread that risk to the whole community. We purchase a share/membership/subscription at the beginning of the season, paying in advance for a season’s worth of produce. Then, each week of the growing season, we get a share of the harvest. Simple, right?

Some tips on sharing:

A CSA can be a lot of produce if you’re not the sort of house that cooks with a lot of veggies right now. We’ve never gotten a share all by ourselves. We started off splitting a share among three households, with my grandparents and my mother. Then, we split a share with just my mom while we were living with my grandparents, and then we just split a share with my mom.

There’s a bunch of ways you can split a share, some better than others. Some people alternate who picks up the share each week. When we were splitting the share three ways, we all met up and would decide who’d get what. Here’s the problem with that method: we would divide up individual items, and nothing really got split evenly. For instance, Ben and I would end up with a grocery bag full of greens and two tiny potatoes. Nobody was happy with this arrangement. When we split the share just with my mom, the rule is you have to take *all* of an “item” (bunch of radishes, bag of spinach, the potatoes, etc). This has worked out really well for us. There are, of course, exceptions. At the height of radish season last year, we got five bunches of radishes each week. We’d usually split those up between households.

CSA Round Up

21 Feb

Love Dove Farms

http://www.lovedovefarms.com/

Farm location:

Woodbine, MD

Pick up:

Sun 11am – 1pm, Mon 5:30pm – 7:30pm at Miller Branch Library, Ellicott City, MD

Season:

Full Season: May 10 – Oct 18 (24 weeks)

Spring: May 10 – July 26 (12 weeks)

Summer: Aug 2 – Oct 18 (12 weeks)

Share types:

Small (1-2 people) or Large (3-4 people)

Cost:

Spring or Summer Share: Small $300 ($25/wk), Large $420 ($35/wk)
Full Season: Small $600 ($25/wk), Large $840 ($35/wk)

Details:

Produce is grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers, although not certified organic. Uses sustainable farming practices. Eggs and mushrooms may be available soon. You can check them out at the Howard County farmers markets Wednesdays & Fridays, or downtown Silver Spring on Saturday mornings.

This is the CSA we picked last year, and what we’re going with again this year. In previous years, we split a share with my mom and I still found myself buying veggies at the farmers markets every week (quite frequently from Love Dove, actually). Last year, outside of our share, I bought other veggies on three occasions (one of which was for my daughter’s birthday party, when I bought extras of what we got in our share that week). It’s not a huge diversity of produce every single week. Instead, it’s the sorts of veggies you’re used to and that we actually used up every week. (Oh, and did I mention that they all taste FANTASTIC?) We had very little spoilage! No fruit, and last year, the deer ate all the corn (although John said this year they’ve got the deer fence up and he’s getting more advice so we should hopefully seem some?)

Fresh and Local CSA

http://www.localharvest.org/a-fresh-and-local-csa-M3917/csa

Farm location: Shepherdstown, WV

Pick up:

Various. We used Silver Spring. Time range for pick up is pretty long, usually 2pm- 10pm, since it’s a drop-off style.

Season:

June – Oct (no exact dates listed, but the out-of-date website said something about 18 weeks)

Share types:

Full (full paper grocery bag) or Half (half-full paper grocery bag)

Cost:

Full: $600 ($33/wk) Half: $325 ($18/wk).

Details:

Chemical/GMO-free. Used to be certified organic, but no longer is certified (by their choice).

This was our first CSA, and they’re pretty great. Allen Balliett is an amazing guy to talk to about food politics. In addition to veggies, he also has fruit shares and meat available. For many years, we would split half a cow, half a hog, or a bunch of chickens with my mom and grandparents (they’ve also ordered veal and lamb). The meat is AMAZING quality. I cannot stress enough how awesome it is.

We stopped getting their veggies because of things on our end, not theirs. The produce is of extremely high quality, although a bit heavy on greens for our tastes (we’re not big on greens at all, sad to say). He likes to include some stuff you may not have ever tried, too, like kohlrabi, purslane, or lambsquarter (but it all comes with emailed recipe ideas!). It’s all field-packed, which means nobody washed it before it got to you, so I hope you’re comfortable with dirt. But, hey, it’s all chemical-free clean dirt at least.

 

Breezy Willow Farms

Farm location: West Friendship, MD

Pick up:

Various times & locations around Howard County, MD, mostly weekday afternoons.

Season:

June 9 – Nov 12 (24 weeks)

Share types:

“value added” CSA share: 8 fruits & veggies, 1 dozen eggs, 1 bread/granola, and herbs, plus a once a month extra like cheese, jam, etc.

Cost:

$920 ($38/wk)

Details:

“Value Added” CSA – in addition to veggies every week, you also get a dozen eggs and a loaf of bread or bag of granola. They DO NOT grow all their own produce. There are two ways to look at this. On the one hand, you’re less subject to how good or bad the season is. The year we were with them (2013), their blueberry crop didn’t do so well, so they brought blueberries in from elsewhere. However, this does mean you don’t always know where exactly your food is coming from. Their farms use IPM (Integrated Pest Management), which is a fancy way of saying like don’t like to spray, but they do sometimes use chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

Gorman Produce Farm

Farm location: Laurel, MD

Pick up:

Wed-Fri 2pm – 7pm at the farm

Season:

June 3 – Oct 30 (22 weeks)

Share types:

Full share (family of 4, 8-12 items per week) & Medium share (1-2 people, 5-8 items per week)

Cost:

Full: $760 ($35/wk). Medium $580 ($26/wk)

Details:

This is the first on this list that I haven’t tried as a CSA. In past years, they’ve had a farm stand (although that won’t be available for 2015), and we’ve enjoyed the produce there. Their you-pick strawberry fields are an absolute must visit. They use organic practices but are not certified organic.