|The CSA board at Gorman Farm|
Community Supported Agriculture is a fancy term for season-long plans where you pay a farmer now and pick up vegetables all season long. We signed up to split a third year with RDAdoc, but you have options around here -- farms from Laurel to West Friendship, pickups in Columbia, Elkridge, and Fulton.
To start, check out AnnieRie's posts about CSAs on AnnieRie Unplugged. Scan down for great information about local farms and AnnieRie's analysis of costs and benefits. Plus, she blogs about her cooking. She shows what she got -- mostly from the Sandy Spring CSA. Similarly, Kat blogs on Kitchen Scribble with photos and story about what she got from Breezy Willow farm.
My big question is whether you're amused by the idea of getting a box of vegetables every week. CSAs are about giving up control. You depend on the season, the weather, and the farmer's choice of products. It's fun for people who want to look into the box and break out a cookbook to see what they can make.
If that's you, then check local options like this:
- Gorman Farm in Laurel runs a CSA. They're signing up returning members now and will open to everyone soon. We've done this for two years, and the vegetables are delicious and long-lasting -- although Gorman doesn't do the exotic vegetables that bigger programs sometimes offer. Gorman also sells fruits and vegetables from a farm stand just south of Columbia.
- Breezy Willow Farm runs an almost-year-round series of CSAs -- early bird, main season, etc. They go past vegetables into bread, eggs, jams and more. They also sell meat and -- new for 2013 -- artisan ice cream. They have drop-offs at libraries and schools from Elkridge to Fulton to Columbia and more.
- Sandy Spring CSA runs pickups around the Washington area, including one in Columbia. AnnieRie has bought from Sandy Spring, so I really suggest that you see her posts for what she has received and the fun that she has had.
- South Mountain Veggies is a variation where they deliver vegetables from local farms. You pick the size of your bag, and you can have some control over what you get. This family brought you South Mountain Creamery, which delivers dairy products and sold its milk, cream and cheese at the Saturday farmers market in Cooksville.
- The Zahradka Farm in Baltimore County appears to deliver to offices and homes. Their CSA has run drop-off points like at an Ellicott City school in 2012. I don't know the details, but AnnieRie has dealt with them too.
- (Update: Friends & Farms in Columbia appears to be a company that does meat, fish, vegetables and more. Anonymous recommended them in the comments, and it seems like a cool option. Anyone know more about them?)
Anyone else have experience with CSAs in or near Howard County? Any other options? Any other advice for someone considering a 2013 sign-up?