SO, what is a CSA and why should you care…and join one?
Wikepedia defines Community-supported agriculture (CSA), as "a community of individuals who pledge support to (a most often local) farming operation where the growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production (eg, too much/little rain, bug infestations, etc). CSAs usually consist of a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables and fruit..and.. sometimes include dairy products and meat” (and even flowers and bread). This bundle of goods is called a “share”. There are some 3000-4000 CSAs in the US today.Here is an interesting video showing how the CSA movement has grown and spread across the US from 1984-2010.
Back in 2009, the Washington Post did a story on CSAs.The article includes a very comprehensive list of CSAs around DC, along with pricing and delivery options in/around town.While I’m sure things have changed a bit since the story, it’s still a great reference point for finding a CSA in DC.
CSAs usually involve a several month contract with a farm.Many CSAs offer various share size options. If you’re going to be out of town for a week or so during your contract period, send out an email to friends/colleagues offering it for $X …and it’ll likely be snatched right up. You can also do your own bit of CSA exchanging once you get to know the community of shareholders.I’m not a big fan of celery…but I’ll take all the fresh basil I can get.I can usually find someone to swap with me. Some farms offer a variety of delivery locations. On the Hill, there’s a CSA pick up spot on someone’s front porch, and there’s a stream of people stopping by to pick up bags of fresh veggies on Thursday afternoons on their way home from work.
I’m a fan of CSAs as they provide me with fresh, local, and organic agriculture for five months of the year.I’ve learned a lot by participating in one over the years…like that those really tasty local tomatoes aren’t going to be in my June share…but I’ll get tons later in the summer..and beet greens can be pretty tasty. CSAs aren’t for everyone.Buying local and organic can be pricey…and you get what’s ripe …when it’s ripe, and in June you're going to get mostly greens.You’re never going to get an avocado in a local DC area CSA…and you’ll probably want to suplement your weekly share with other vegetables. If you get too many tomatoes or basil, pass them along to me!