Monday, March 9, 2009

Gorman Farm and South Mountain Veggies

If you're looking for organic or just seasonal vegetables in Howard County, you may want to consider some of the local options for "community supported agriculture" -- basically a way to buy a piece of a local farm.

CSAs are a trendy little program where farms or groups sell "shares" that entitle you to a piece of the harvest. You get the produce when it comes ripe. Most CSAs are organic (or at least don't use pesticides even if they aren't certified yet). All are aimed to support local farms. So it's not the cheapest way to buy vegetables -- but it's a way that gives you product that never saw a refrigerated warehouse and is probably a few days out of the field.

Gorman Farm in Laurel runs a CSA. For $550, you get a "full share" -- about eight pieces of produce a week for a season running from June to October. You pick up your box on Thursdays (11 am to 7 pm) at their stand on Gorman Road. They also offer a "half share" and run that produce stand if you want local vegetables, but don't want to commit to $550.

One Straw Farm runs a large CSA and one of its drop-offs is the My Organic Market in Jessup. You pay about the same or find a friend to split the share. Their season runs from June to November. (Thanks to Lisa for the comment about One Straw Farm.)

Breezy Willow Farm appears to run a CSA with pick ups at the farm in West Friendship at Rte 32 and I-70 on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.  I can't find much on their Web site, but you should click on the "Farm Fresh Goodies" sign on the left side, then scroll down.  The farm seems to crate goat and sheet milk soaps along with selling vegetables.

South Mountain Veggies is the new option in town. This family brought you South Mountain Creamery, which delivers fairy products and sold its milk, cream and cheese at the Saturday farmers market in Cooksville. They're buying produce from local farms and then delivering to you. As of last weekend, they were still working out their delivery areas and delivery days, but they had a very flexible system where you could pick three different size boxes and order deliveries every week or every two weeks. No season-long commitment.

In both cases, this is aimed at people who want to cook vegetables. This isn't the potatoes, tomatoes and green beans that you buy 52-weeks-a-year in a supermarket. This will be whatever is ripe now, and there are tons of blogs where people talk about their CSAs, share recipes for unfamiliar produce, and chat about whether it was worth the investment -- like this and this and Nina's local Yet Another Food Blog. As far as I read, you need to like vegetables and surprise. You need to like the idea that each box comes with something new or something that you won't know how to cook, and you need to like not knowing what you have until you reach your kitchen. If that sounds fun, try a CSA. If you try one, buy a used copy of How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman or Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop. Those are my bibles when I have a vegetable and need a recipe to cook right away.

I heard about South Mountain Veggies on Yet Another Food Blog, and I'm going to try them if they deliver to my neighborhood. They have a track record with dairy deliveries. The Web site seems professional, and I'm impressed that they're confident enough to let people sign up without committing for the year.

If you commute south, you might want to look at the Sandy Spring CSA, which has a pickup place in Sandy Spring on Wednesday.

South Mountain Veggies
301-371-8565 (creamery)

NEAR: It's a delivery service. You don't need to go there. But South Mountain Farm is at 8305 Bolivar Road; Middletown, MD 21769.

Gorman Produce Farm
Gorman Road between between Leishear Rd & Murray Hill Rd.
Laurel, MD

NEAR: This is on Gorman Road. That's pretty convenient from Rte 29 if you take the Gorman/Johns Hopkins Road exit. You go east, and the road becomes Gorman. You can also reach


K8teebug said...

Vegetable Love by Barbara Kafka is another great veggie cook book!

Anonymous said...

Hello! Thank you for a great website. Have you (HowChow author and/or any readers) signed up for the South Mountain Veggie delivery?

I signed up for the wait list a few weeks ago, and was just told that a spot is available for me. I am excited for my first delivery, but am curious what to expect as I live in a secure apartment building and they say they'll deliver between 1-7am. I hope they just leave the delivery outside the building door!