CSA is an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture. We can thank Dr. Booker T. Watley, an agricultural professor at Tuskegee University, for focusing on regenerative agriculture that nourishes the soil and a business model that places the farmer and consumer in direct contact.
Dr. Watley’s idea is grounded in the belief that community members need to have a connection to farming and farm land even if they live in the city. He also understood the need for growing vegetables and berries that feed people while also feeding the soil. Regenerative and sustainable agriculture are time honored concepts that produce rich soil and healthy soil organisms like earthworms, fungi and other microbes.
We need both for healthy crops and people.
So how does it work? We plant a variety of crops, community members prepay before the growing season starts and then our shareholders enjoy the harvest from the farm during the season. In this area, the growing season begins around April and can last until early December. The cold limits the growth of most of our crops so we really don’t have any consistent growth outdoors until the beginning of May. With the weather changes we’ve seen recently, this may change. Last summer was one of the hottest on record for this area of Maryland.
So what’s in a share? Depends on the season. In the cool spring, herbs, broccoli, cauliflower and leafy greens like swiss chard, kale, collard greens and arugula thrive. As the weather warms. strawberries come available. During the summer heat, tomatoes, green beans, melons, blackberries,a variety of sweet and hot peppers, corn , winter squash, sweet potatoes and more grow. But during the summer heat, leafy greens wither, so we pull them up until the cool fall weather returns. Amaranth however, loves the heat deserves to be the center of attention.Amaranth leaves are packed with potassium, magnesium, iron and fiber.
How much in a share? We only offer full shares that take up about 2 large paper bags filled with a variety of whatever is growing on the farm. Not to worry, we highlight a variety of recipes to make sure that everything in your share disappears just in time for your next pickup. The weight of each share varies like the weather. Lighter in the fall and spring and heavier during the summer.
What our growing practices? We use organic growing practices. The kind that our ancestors used when the cost of “chemicals” were too expensive. We do not use any GMO seeds and try to use as many heirloom seeds as possible. We do not use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. We believe that healthy soil, sun and water provides all the nutrients needed to grow. And the goats on the farm provide a steady supply of nitrogen for the soil and the crops.
Water conservation on the farm? Absolutely. We use drip water irrigation from the same spring that nourished the historic community of Sandy Spring. Water stays near the plant roots where it belongs. Minimizing water use and fertilizer keeps the spring, the Anacostia and Chesapeake Bay safe and healthy.
Not sure you want to sign up for a whole season? We understand. This is new for some so we offer an a la carte option where you can sample some of the harvest from the farm. Take a look at our SHOP page and our Nourish+Well option.
Delivery options? No home delivery , yet but we do have pickup locations on the farm in Ashton. Md. and the Spice Suite in Washington , DC.
Do we partner with other farmers? Yes. The community supports us and we support other farmers. From flowers to eggs and cheese, we like to provide a variety of products. We do not however offer any meat products at this time. We also offer a variety of herbal teas that offer alternatives to sodas and other high calorie drinks. Check out our SHOP page to see what’s available.
How long does our season last? For 2018, we will continue offering our produce until December if the weather allows.
Do we offer work shares on our farm? No.