12 Great CSAs in the DC Area

Get on board with fresh produce delivery, here’s how to join

By Jessica Wolfrom, Edible DC Contributor

It’s never been easier to live in a city and eat like a farmer. 

In the District, we are spoiled year round by the many farmers markets and restaurants that celebrate the bounty of regional cuisine.  

But if the winter chill has kept you away from the markets (and it shouldn’t—there is still wonderful winter produce and farmers to support), there’s another way to connect with farmers from the comfort of your home — let them bring the farm to you. 

February 22nd is CSA Day, a celebration of our local foodsheds and a call to action to support the farmers who make our seasonal and regional food possible.

CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture, is a system that connects the farmer with the consumer more directly by circumventing the grocery store. It’s essentially a subscription service for produce, meats, and dairy, delivered straight from the farm to your door. 

The money you pay up front supports the harvest of that farm for the entire year. Think of it like a down payment on your health; invest in your farmer, and eat healthier all year. (Not to mention eating local reduces your carbon footprint.)

[And in more happy CSA news—we’ve learned that Imperfect Produce, a company founded to help combat food waste by taking fresh, delicious produce that normally wouldn’t sell because it might be misshapen or have a harmless bump and saving it from landfill. Founded University of Maryland grad Ben Simon, Imperfect Produce has now grown nationally and is now delivering to the MD/DC area. Check their website to see if they are delivering to your neighborhood.]

Here are twelve local food delivery and CSA’s we love, and news on another new CSA. And you will too. Take it from us, nothing makes you happier than coming home to a box of fresh produce. The the names of the CSAs are linked to their websites for for information on how to join and additional details.

This month, do good for your body and your community by registering for a CSA. 

Windy Hill Farm CSA (Single farm CSA)

Offers CSA pick-up in Chevy Chase, DC as well as limited local delivery. Windy Hill Farm also offers reduced cost CSA shares to low-income community members. More details on how the CSA works here.

Second Spring Farm CSA (Single Farm CSA)

Operates May - November and offers a plethora of pick up locations including Leesburg, Reston/Herndon, Oakton, Vienna, Ashburn, Arlington, Springfield, Glen Echo, Takoma Park, Bethesda, Columbia Heights, and at the farm in Purcellville. You have the option for a small or large size box that includes plenty of recipes.

Owl’s Nest Farm CSA (Single Farm CSA)

Offers organic produce from their farm in Upper Marlboro, MD. Pickup locations are offered in Bloomingdale, Brookland, Columbia Heights, and Petworth, DC, and on the farm in Upper Marlboro, MD.

Even’ Star Organic Farm (Single Farm CSA)

Certified organic vegetables, fruits and herbs offered Bethesda, Alexandria, South Arlington, North Arlington, Takoma Park, University Park, Chevy Chase, Rockville, Lexington Park, Leondardtown, and Waldorf.

Clagett Farm (Single Farm CSA)

Operates May - November pick up offered in Dupont Circle for $700 and helps support their ability to donate 40-50% of their produce to area soup kitchens.

4P Foods (Network of Farmers)

Example 4p Foods spring box! (Photo credit Abbey Gleason)

Example 4p Foods spring box! (Photo credit Abbey Gleason)

4P isn’t just one farmer, it’s a network of farmers. The 4P team delivers produce, meat, and dairy from environmentally responsible family farmers in the DMV foodshed. Not only will you receive food from a variety of farmers, your subscription will feed others — for every 10 bags it delivers, it will give one to local food banks including Fauquier Food Bank, Local Food Bank Partners and YMCA Capital View.

Cultivate the City (Single Farm CSA)

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Cultivate the City is part urban farm, part education program, part garden center. Its CSA program sources food from both its H Street Farm and school gardens like Miner Elementary, Gallaudet University and IDEA Public Charter School. Your subscription will support farm programming and garden activities for youth in schools around the District.

In addition, any extra produce that isn’t picked up is donated to local food pantries, reducing food waste and providing for community members who otherwise may not have access to healthy foods.

Little Farm Stand (Network of Farmers)

Little Farm Stand proudly claims to be the “most flexible CSA in Washington D.C.,” allowing its members to choose up to 90% of their weekly shares. With a focus on local, organic produce and Virginia raised grass-fed beef, this CSA is perfect for picky eaters and locavores alike. 

Lancaster Farms Co-Op (Co-Op)

Lancaster Farms is a co-op of multi-generational families bringing Certified Organic, chemical-free produce and humanely raised meat to the DMV from their headquarters in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Its motto is “locally rooted, sustainably minded” and this ethos penetrates every part of their business. Choose the size of your weekly share, and find a pick-up location that works best for you. This model encourages new communities to take root around its food, and your subscription helps continue Lancaster’s farming traditions for generations to come.

From the Farmer (Network of Farmers)

From the Farmer was started in 2010 by two friends-turned business partners who met at the University of Denver. From the Farmer delivers fresh farm boxes to the Washington D.C. area with an emphasis on local, organic and seasonal produce, meats, seafood and other artisanal treats. 

You can customize your farm box based on your gastronomic allegiances — electing for example, an all veggie box or an all fruit box — and you can eat happy knowing that 50% of every dollar goes directly back to the farmer or maker. 

Washington’s Green Grocer (Network of Farmers)

Photo courtesy Washington’s Green Grocer

Photo courtesy Washington’s Green Grocer

If you are iffy about commitment and overwhelmed by what to do with kohlrabi, then this is the perfect CSA for you. Not only does Washington’s Green Grocer allow you to customize your box up to 9 PM the night before delivery, it doesn’t require a weekly commitment. To help the less adventurous home chefs explore the bounty of our regional foods, its website doubles as a repository of recipes for its seasonal produce. It also offers free delivery to Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and D.C. on all farm boxes over $40. 

FRESHFARM Farm Share (Network of Farmers)

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While not a traditional CSA, FRESHFARM is re-thinking the food supply model by offering a farm share program that supports local farmers and food artisans in the mid-Atlantic region. It doesn’t deliver to your doorstep, but if you are the type who frequents farmers markets around the district, this is the share for you. It’s all the fun of the farmers market without the stress of fighting over those last-of-the-season strawberries. Its share season runs from mid-May through the end of October and you can choose to subscribe to a half season (12 weeks) or a full season (24 weeks). 


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Jessica @jessicawolfrom is a freelance writer covering food, wine, farming and the environment in and around Washington D.C. She's also a graduate student at Georgetown University, getting her masters in journalism. When she's not in school, you can likely find her sipping on something sparkling somewhere in the District.

It Takes a Village (of Farmers) to Make A Rake's Progress

Chefs Gjerde and Crooks talk sourcing local

By AJ Dronkers, Photography by Jared Soares

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DC locavores, whether foodies or artisans, awaited the opening of the new Line Hotel in Adams Morgan anxiously. The hotel was built to showcase the work of local makers all round, and the positive reception has proven the concept. Each of the rooms was individually curated with both furnishings and art. And that level of individuality was also given to the plan for food service: two restaurants by award-winning chefs, bringing together Chef Erik Bruner-Yang to open Brothers & Sisters and Chef Spike Gjerde and team from Baltimore’s Woodberry Kitchen, renowned for bringing sourcing local to the highest levels.

The Gjerde restaurant group, Foodshed, spent $2.1 million with local growers in 2016, a number that they estimate is to grow with their new operations. We sat down to talk with Chef Patrick “Opie” Crooks and Chef Spike Gjerde to hear more about their inspirations and how they are making it happen.

Edible DC: Before you opened, you held a “Growers Banquet” with all the farmers and producers that you source from here. Why was that evening important to your team.

Chef Opie: For us, it started years ago. Many of these growers are people we have been using since the beginning. For over 20 years we have had them in for dinner at Woodberry Kitchen, but never as a group. It was really important for us to start off this way—because the food we source from this group goes into banquets, employee dining, and our two restaurants at The Line Hotel, A Rake’s Progress and The Cup We All Race 4. And our commitment to local sourcing is how we wanted to kick things off in a very public way. The hotel has been really supportive of our experiments and loving things like our pickled beets.

Chef Spike: The cool thing was how much it meant for our team. I didn’t anticipate that. But the Growers Banquet generated this huge, positive energy—the hotel and lobby were full of farmers, families and their kids. The hotel felt radiant with their presence all night. For days and weeks after, people kept saying how special to them it was that they were there that night. We are feeding big groups of people via banquets with this all-local food. It’s challenge for us and not many people can do it. We had a tech company the night after the Growers Banquet and they had the same food and were very happy. We celebrated a proof of concept that actually works.

“This group has shared a table for many years at Woodberry Kitchen but never shared a table together. Rake team, meet your farmers; farmers, meet the team.” —Chef Spike at the Growers Banquet, a night celebrating all the farmers and producers before the restaurant opened.

Edible DC: From how many producers do you currently source? As you extend into a new regional area (DC) with new restaurants and a sizable operation, how did that change your sourcing and supply chain strategy?

Chef Opie: As of last year, we work with 156 farmers. We’ve gone deeper into Virginia. We were buying some stuff once a week that we now we need twice a week. We buy whatever they need to grow. Dead of winter is the roughest time. We work with co-ops since they can pull from many different sources to meet our demand. Two weeks ago I randomly got a hold of 10 dozen duck eggs. So within a day it had to be something with duck eggs on the menu; I came up with duck grits.

Chef Spike: Asparagus, rhubarb and ramps are bellwether for us; they really mark the shift in seasons. On a daily basis, Opie is adjusting and reacting to what’s available. April is frustrating because the world turns green but farms are still catching up.

Edible DC: When you buy what the farmers produce, instead of selectively picking fan favorites, how difficult is it to push patrons toward potentially unknown or unpopular produce?

Chef Opie: I try to sneak in stuff that people don’t know, sprinkle it in to support the farmer. Add rare leafy greens to mix of lettuce or use as a garnish. Heinz Thomet of Next Step Produce was out of the classic orange sweet potatoes but had a white one. People freaked out about this white sweet potato that actually originated here on the Eastern Shore. But on the menu, we’ll just say “sweet potato” to simplify and help sell what we get.

Chef Spike: The most compelling reason to get stuff on the menu is because a farmer grows it. What ends up on our menu is so connected to that—I will never stop thinking in those terms. There is absolutely an economic compulsion here—not just creative. Get it on the menu so we can sell more. Especially if a farmer comes to us with “I have a lot of this and it’s not selling at market,” that’s our call to action. Zach Lester of Tree & Leaf Farm had a lot of savoy cabbage and we came up with a dish to help him push through his supply. Takes a fair amount of communication between Chef Opie and farmers. Daily texts on what’s happening in the field and what he can use.

Edible DC: The menus offer daily updates from the farmers and notes about weather. Why is that important for you to share with your guests? 

Chef Spike: The notes are a low-key way for us to start conversation. The farm lists at some restaurants seems so basic now and we wanted to go a step further.

Edible DC: Chef Spike’s philosophy has always been “local only”—how do you swap out things like limes, lemons and avocados for local produce?

Chef Spike: So far so good. If we are doing it right, we are giving people plenty to think about and try. We wow them with what we have and they don’t miss what we don’t have. The best defense is a good offense.

Edible DC: Any reactions/updates since you opened? 

Chef Opie: We are going to do what we do. The implications of what we do go so much further than our table. We are returning value to our food system. If we get a bad critique about a specific item, I don’t take it off menu. The implication would be that all of that food from a farmer is trashed. We can tweak and react based on feedback but we don’t abandon this supply chain. The core of what we do is source local.

Chef Spike: There is no alternative from buying from local farms. The urgency in what we do is not speculative – it’s economic. We have to pay farmers for what they do or they can’t exist.
 

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