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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Annandale residents encouraged to buy produce directly from farms



Farm to Family produce.
How would like to receive a box of fresh, nutritious, beautiful vegetables and fruit every week directly from the farm?

That’s the concept of community-supported agriculture (CSA). There are different models, but in general, a group of consumers buys shares in a farm or group of farms for a weekly charge and receives an assortment of produce, usually organic, every week during the growing season. Customers don’t select items; they get whatever happens to be in season.

Farm to Family, one of several CSAs serving the Washington area, has a few dropoff points for its produce and plans to add a new one in the Ravenwood Park community in the Seven Corners area if at least 10 people sign up. So far, five people have joined, says Krissy Etz, market coordinator for Farm to Family.


Ravenwood Park resident Margaux Hoar, who’s already signed up with Farm to Family, has been a member of other CSAs before. Part of the fun of being in a CSA is getting a load of produce “and figuring out what to do with it every week,” says Hoar. It’s also fun to try new things, like garlic scapes, she says, and see vegetables in their natural state, like a bunch of carrots with giant fronds still attached to them and shallots with papery skin and big white stems.

Other benefits include the value of supporting small local farmers, rather industrial agricultural enterprises, saving money if you cook for a large family, having access to fresh local varieties and meat from humanely raised animals, and the opportunity to learn about local farms and how food is grown.
The cost varies, depending on whether you want a delivery once a week or every two weeks and whether you just want produce or other items, too, like eggs, cheese, or honey.

The Farm to Family complete package, including meat, dairy, produce, and bread, is $1,219 for 12 pickups during the six-month season, running from the second week of April through the end of September, says Etz. You can also choose from among various other less expensive options described online.   

Farm to Family works with several farmers in the Richmond area. Some are certified organic; other use organic methods but are not certified. None of them use pesticides.

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