Washington CSAs: How to Pick the Best Farm for You

If you're looking to buy a community-supported agriculture share, here's what you need to know

Find a DC-area CSA. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Like cooking with lots of veggies? A CSA share of a farm’s crop might be for you. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Even die-hard locavores may hesitate to sign up for a community-supported-agriculture (CSA) share, for which you pay a onetime fee for a season of weekly produce from a farm. Prices can be hefty, and you usually don’t have control over what you get—love it or hate it, that bumper crop of okra will be yours. But local agriculture consultant Renee Brooks Catacalos says CSAs provide a good value: “Chances are if you are a heavy farmers-market shopper or if you eat a lot of vegetables, you’re going to get your money’s worth.” To find a CSA, she says, figure out if you’re interested in what a particular farm grows. Some favor peach or tomato lovers; others go beyond veggies, providing eggs, honey, or bread. Splitting shares is common—and makes the weeks easier when your share features enough salad greens to feed a sorority house.

Some CSAs are flexible. Southern Maryland’s Even’ Star Organic Farm has a debit-like option (starting at $300) that lets members choose when to visit the farm or the Chevy Chase Farmers Market and pick what they want. To find a CSA that suits you, check out, which Catacalos and Even’ Star owner Brett Grohsgal say is the best place to start.

See Also:

Farmers Markets & Local Eats

Local Food Artisans

Our Farmers-Market Shopping List

Eye-Pleasing Produce

Great Food in Washington: Where to Find It

This article appears in the May 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.

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