Given the disturbing erosion of moral and social values in the world around us, it is a great privilege to be part of such an evolved social initiative that gives us access to the highest quality food and inspires the highest in us as human beings at the same time.
In gratitude,
Sheila Johns
How do I join?

Please go here for information on how to join.  Click here for the registration form. We're excited to meet you! If you're a returning member, welcome back!

How do we know when and where to pick up the food?
See the Location and Hosts page for pick up location options.
Pick up day is Wednesdays - afternoon through evening.
Registered members will receive a letter from the host of each location within the month before the season starts giving exact pick up times, address and directions, contact information and logistical details such as suggestions on what to do if you are late one day, etc.

When is the season and how much does a share cost?
We are a full year CSA divided into Summer/Fall and Winter/Spring seasons. The full 2015-16 season is 12 months, 50 weeks, of weekly food from May 27, 2015 to May 18, 2016 (skipping the last two weeks of December due to holiday).

Full Year            50 weeks     May 27,2015 - May 18,2016     $2,000 -- best price average per week

Summer Only     26 weeks     May 27 – Nov 18, 2015             $1,100

Winter Only       24 weeks     Nov 25 – May 18, 2016              $1,000

Half Share         Full year $1,050; Summer/Fall $575 or Winter/Spring Only $525
Bi-weekly - pick up every other week (You can also get a full share and split it with a friend)

6 week Trial Period - for NEW members only                         $ 275
if you join for the remainder of the season, this amount is applied to the prorated balance

Payment may be made in a lump sum or installments.  Please see the registration form for details.  Please include all checks with the registration form i.e. post-dated checks if using the installment plan.

What farm does the food come from?
The main vegetable farm in summer/fall is Kimberton CSA certified Biodynamic and certified Organic through the Demeter Association.  For more information on the farm and its gardeners Birgit and Erik Landowne go here.  In addition to the weekly share, Spiritual Food also provides supplements from other farms.  We currently work with:
5 farms for vegetables and eggs throughout the year
7 farms for fruit
3 small producers (bakery, cheese, pasta)
a Farmer's cooperatives
and a distributor (that started as a family farm themselves) for some of the dry goods

All are Biodynamic or organic. To learn more about the farms that provide our supplements, please go to the Meet the Farmers and Providers section for interviews and photos.

What is in a share?
Every season is different. A CSA teaches us to eat according to the seasons and locally, but also year by year as the farmers adjust to our wishes and weather/climate conditions and according to Mother Nature. We are working with small, very special farms. The size of the share and availability of items may vary as CSA members share the bounty and the risk with the farmers.  Shares are planned to include: vegetables and herbs, fruit, and eggs plus cheese, bread and other grains and legumes on a monthly rotation.  The bread is hand-made, whole-grain slow-rise, non-yeast bread suitable even for many people who are considered wheat intolerant.
What kinds of food are in the shares throughout the seasons?
The fresh vegetable and fruit crops vary through the year while the supplements (dry goods and dairy) are fairly consistent.   Vegetable-wise, the Summer provides traditional lettuces/greens, veges and herbs. Fall moves into squashes, roots and heartier greens. Winter provides apples and dried fruit, more roots (storage crops), and thanks to greenhouses and tunnels the fresh leafy greens continue even after the ground freezes.  In Spring, locally grown vegetables are just not in nature’s plan although leafy greens, spring onions and garlic may grow abundantly weather permitting  and we do have enough other organic fare to eat. Any
thin times are filled in with extra dry goods.

Fresh fruit varies through the year with a good supply of apples in fall and berries in summer if the bugs and birds don't get to them first.  (Unfortunately, our citrus provider struggled so much with "greening" and other blights that he took down the trees and is waiting for other fruit trees to mature.)  Kimberton CSA farm grows watermelons and cantaloupe. There is less fruit in summer than one would expect until more local, biodynamic or organic farms surface - this is beginning to happen as demand increases and our CSA is contributing to this.  Avocado is offered as a superior health food from two biodynamic and organic farms in southern Florida,  Fresh, unprocessed dates are a favoriteDied fruit is also given when fresh is not available. 

The supplements including the weekly half dozen eggs while rotation of cheese, bread and other grains and legumes round out the shares year round providing whole foods for a balanced diet.

Will one share be the right amount for me and my family?

The share is planned for:

  • A couple who cooks at home regularly (not necessarily every day)
  • A small family with young children or teens
  • One dedicated natural food lover

If I only want half a share, what should I do?

Single people or those who frequently travel, don't cook at home all the time or are just getting used to a natural whole foods diet, often prefer a half share.  We now offer a bi-weekly pick up instead of asking members to split the share with a partner.  Half share members will be given a starting date, either the first or second week of the season, and pick up every other week from then on.  A list of your pick up dates for the whole season will be provided.

Some people prefer to pick up a smaller amount every week.  In this case, you'll need to find a partner at the same pick up location and arrange between you to divide the share into 2 bags.  It's easiest if one person registers and the partner reimburses that person for half.  It can require cutting in half some items such as a loaf of bread or head of lettuce or else talking it out with your partner each week as to who wants what.  This can also work for people with food intolerances or special diets who divide it according to what they can and can't eat.

CSA partnerships are formed between parent/child, co-workers and neighbors.  Partnerships are private arrangements but you can provide e-mail addresses of both parties so we may be in communication with everyone.

What if I’m going out of town?

  • Invite your friends to try Spiritual food and have them pick up your share
  • In Bethesda, a share can be prepared for you and set aside for late pick up for a $2 courtesy fee. Arrangements can be made with coordinators at other sites.
  • Try to exchange with someone else, or sell your share that week, through the CSA online Yahoo group; many shares exchange hands on Yahoo
  • Donate your share and we will find a good home for it
What if I move or for some other reason need to withdraw after joining the CSA?

Joining a CSA means committing for the full period of time, yet sometimes unforeseen circumstances arise.  It is the member’s ultimate responsibility to ensure a replacement for the remainder of the season.  However, staff can help and it should not be difficult to pass a share on to someone else with some advance notice.  Please do not give installment checks with the intention of “trying” the CSA and withdraw before all checks are cashed as this would leave staff and other members picking up the tab.  If you are wary of making a commitment for the full season, we now have a trial option for the first 6 weeks of each the Summer and Winter season for $250.

I just found out that the CSA won't be starting a new season for many months.  Is there a way to get some food now?

Yes, there are several ways.  Since we are expanding the CSA, there may be extra shares available even after the season starts.  We will take registrations prorated for the beginning of the next month.  it is for the next month, you can join our members list serve on yahoo and may be able to pick up a share from someone going out of town while you wait for your membership to begin.  If we "sell out" all shares, you may send in a registration form and ask to be put on a waiting list.  Yahoo share exchange is also available in this case.

Some of the fruit and dry goods may be ordered through Spiritual Food for the New Millennium and picked up in Bethesda or shipped to your address. 

What Biodynamic vegetables can we look forward to each season? 

This Crop Chart shows what the farm has planned.  Updates will be posted on yahoo.  The good news is that the Kimberton CSA farm has committed to us for Winter so we are now Biodynamic year round!

Not every farm can grow everything so we supplement the Kimberton vegetables with other regional favorites like fresh peas, potatoes, celery, corn, and varieties of different squash from local and regional organic farms  Some items in the crop chart (like beans, picking cucumbers and cherry tomatoes) are pick-your-own and thus may not be part of our weekly shares here in Maryland.  We may supplement these or you are welcome to head to the farm to pick!

Is the CSA food all from local farms?

Our main aim is to support and promote Biodynamic farms, but as said, we offer food from other farms to round out the shares and to support other Biodynamic and
local organic farms.  In other words, local organic is a high priority but is sometimes sacrificed for the preference of Biodynamic. To learn what is special about Biodynamics and more about how the providers are selected and why it is not all local, click here.

Can you give me an example of some shares?
Here are sample shares throughout the year.  Keep in mind there is more variety in Summer and more weight in Winter.

1 head cabbage
8 oz Perpetual Spinach
1 head lettuce
5 oz escarole

1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
12 oz fresh peas or beans
1 European cucumber
2 onions
4 tomatoes
bunch parsley
1 Mountain Brown Bread
1 watermelon or cantaloupe
1/2 doz eggs, organic

          1 Butternut Squash
        1 bok choy or tot soi
        12 oz kale
        16 oz spinach
        1 celery
        2 tomatoes
        2 leeks
        2 lbs sweet potatoes
        4 peppers
        1 bunch cilantro
        1 bunch arugula
        1 lb Asian Pears
        1/2 doz eggs
        1 bag lentils     

        8 oz Curly Kale or Rainbow Chard
1 cabbage - Chinese Cabbage, Tot Soi, or Bok Choy
        12 oz Yukina Savoy

        2-4 leaves Red or Green Mustard leaves
        2 1/2 lbs apples
        1 lb onions
        1 garlic bulb
        2 lb carrots
        1 lb turnips with or without greens
        8-12 oz Colby cheese, raw organic
1 Oatmeal  Bread
         1/2 doz Eggs
1 head Romaine or other lettuce
8 oz mustard greens
8 oz spinach
6 oz kale
2 Hakurai turnips with greens
1 bunch spring onions or spring garlic
4 radishes with greens

1/2 doz Eggs
3/4 lb Mushrooms
1 lb Medjool dates
1 1/4 lb Quinoa grain
1 oz rosemary herb

Kohlrabi? Some of those foods are new to me. How do I cook them?
Our website offers suggestion for how to prepare new foods or foods that come in bursts such as beets. Check out the Food-a-pedia for food specific suggestions (and remember it is a work-in-progress and we are always looking for input from members). CSA participants join an email (yahoo) list where weekly share lists are posted with tips and information and where members trade recipes and suggestions on how to prepare items found in the shares.  It is helpful to be patient, flexible and enjoy an occasional adventure in order to fully enjoy the CSA experience.

We welcome members ideas and input.

Do I need to help out - volunteer? 

CSA is a community endeavor depending on the cooperative efforts of its members; and seeing firsthand some of what is behind the scenes in getting this food to us is eye-opening and is also fun and rewarding.  In our first 14 years of operation, we depended on members to volunteer with getting the food out and about 80% did participate from all locations.   This helps keep overhead costs low so the farmer gets a fair payment for their hard work.  It also builds community! 

In 2012, our CSA made lots of changes to accommodate members and their busy lives.  The "headquarters" in Bethesda is where all the food arrives and is sorted on Wednesday mornings and sent off to the other locations.  All other locations now receive the shares already boxed so volunteering at these sites is no longer needed.  

Lest you are concerned that community spirit will suffer or there won't be a chance to share in the farm fun, Wednesdays in Bethesda offer a great opportunity to pitch in and we do need 2 members each week to help pack the shares and set up.  Members from all locations can participate - we are metro accessible.  The time is 8:30 -11:00 am (but just let us know if you will be late or have to leave early).  There's a sign up chart on our yahoo Spiritual Food CSA group (under the database link) and in the Bethesda garage or you can e-mail us to sign you up. 

Members also help with bagging dry goods (can be done at home), cutting cheese and special projects such as website and recipes.  Children often like to help and teens can get community service credit.  It can be a great family or community project.  We’d love to hear your ideas on building community through the CSA.

When can we visit the farm?
Visiting the farm is an important experience for CSA members to connect with the farmer and the land that is their source of nutrition and the forces of life.  Directions are available here.

Farm tours will be offered usually in May and/or July. Tours are announced through email and flyers.

There may be U-pick opportunities in the summer for crops such as berries, beans, and flowers.

Is home delivery possible?
We encourage members to exchange this service with each other. Also, home delivery is possible to some locations for $10/week. Shipping via Fed Ex ground is also possible to neighboring states for about $15/week. You may note your interests on the registration form.

What if I’ll be away for a long time during the season?
Our CSA purpose is explicitly to not only procure an important source of highly nutritious food but to support the farmers who provide it, and to build community.  While we know some members go out of town occasionally or even for long stretches, the CSA model depends on its members to commit to the season or preferably the full year.

The way to handle going out of town is to find someone to take your share while you are away.  It takes some advance planning but it gives an opportunity for others to participate in the CSA.  The yahoo chat group is one place that share exchanges take place.  Those who can afford it, might consider giving it away.  One member gave the share to an employee; another donated it for an entire summer to a family in need.

I thought CSAs were for vegetables.  Why does this one include grains and other items?
We made a choice many years ago to expand the share content beyond vegetables for 3 important reasons:  to support more farms, to reduce the need for shopping at commercial grocery stores, and to round out the weekly share to offer more whole foods for balanced nutrition.  We even reduced the amount of vegetables coming from the main farm because most members found it was too much of the same thing for them while including fruit and other items balanced out the shares. 

Over the years, this CSA has developed relationships with several farmers and providers for staple items such as additional vegetables, fruit, bread, cheese and eggs.  These supplements also help fill out the shares during leaner months and if there is a particular crop that fails on the main farm.

Our family cannot eat wheat or dairy.  What should we do?

The bread offered in the CSA is slow rise, sourdough and many people with wheat intolerance can enjoy this bread with no problems.  Much of the recent near epidemic of wheat allergies can be traced to commercial preparation of bread.  Genetic modification of seed adds to the problem but our biodynamically grown wheat is certainly not GMO.  See the bread article in Food-A-Pedia for more information. 

Also helpful to know is that bread is usually offered for 2 weeks, then skipped for 2 weeks. Those who pick up bi-weekly will receive it only once a month. Some members who cannot use it, share their bread with others who can.  Those who want it more often can order for the off weeks, Seven Stars Yogurt is no longer included in the shares but can be purchased for those who want it.  Cheese is usually offered 4-5 times in a season.

There may be a gluten-free dairy-free option coming.  Let us know if you'd be interested.

Can I buy more of some things that we use a lot?

We have a service called "special orders" where members can establish a standing order or order anytime by noon Friday for pick up in Bethesda or delivery to other CSA locations the following Wednesday.  Fresh items like eggs, yogurt and bread are often standing orders.  Grains, dried fruit and legumes are ordered as needed.  Some items can be ordered in bulk for a discount; some can be shipped directly from the farm to you home. There is a product list available and any package can be shipped anywhere in the USA for yourself or a gift.  See the special order link on the home page.

If I know already that I won’t be able to use certain items, will I be throwing money away if I join this CSA?

No, not if you look at the big picture.  CSA offers an alternative to the concept of putting a specific dollar value on a basic need like food items and creates a broader picture of health and security for all. You might rather look at it as an investment.

CSA is about much more than return for your money or prices.  It addresses the true cost of food, which includes a living wage for farmers and supports economic and environmental sustainability.  It is true that not all CSAs include supplements like grains, dried fruit and dairy but we believe that by broadening the scope to include more kinds of food (because after all, we eat more than vegetables) we are opening this alternative way of doing business to cover more of our needs and to support those who provide them.

Wasting money is certainly a real concern, but we can look at a broad picture here as well.  There is an incredible amount of waste in the modern world and CSA because of its structure and way of operation, (no wasteful packaging, expensive premises, processed foods, throw away containers etc.) reduces this to almost nil.  Farmers markets and grocery stores, restaurants and hotels throw away a LOT of food.  Single use packaging, shipping across the country or the ocean, and excessive paperwork or “middle-men” while useful can also be considered wasteful and are avoided in CSA.  Perhaps the biggest waste is when human minds and bodies are not treated and utilized in a well-rounded healthy, life-supporting way.  The CSA model attempts to address, in its small way, all of these very real phenomena of modern times.

I’m still concerned about wasting food or money. What would I do with items I cannot use?
If there are certain vegetables or some of the supplements that you cannot use, here are some ideas we’ve heard from other members:

· Food can be shared with family, friends or neighbors reminiscent of the days before refrigerators when harvests were abundant and sharing was part of the recognition and joy of nature’s bounty as well as avoiding waste.

· If you split a share, your partner can have the items you cannot use. 

· Formal exchange – Try finding someone at your pick up site or through the yahoo group to exchange certain items with you on a regular basis.

·  Informal exchange – Put things you can’t use into an exchange box at your pick up site for another member to enjoy and you might find something you can use. 

· This special food can be offered as gifts.  Many a gorgeous head of lettuce and luscious grapefruit have gone to doctors/healers, nannies, teachers to say thanks.  Dry goods can be saved up for a thoughtful gift.  Storage crops from the fall make great homemade holiday baskets.  Here at the ashram, we give food bags to volunteers, speakers, and out of town guests.

·  If you just leave it behind, it will be donated to a home in need the next day.

Our experience of visiting many farms over the years is that one can NEVER leave empty-handed!  It’s even embarrassing sometimes when we know they don’t have a lot of money but insist on giving something -- literally the fruit of their labor and of the land.  I believe this is one of the joys of being a farmer. We can experience a little of that as members of the CSA.

This beautiful food never need be thrown away.  It can be given to another person as an act of friendship or charity.  We also know that what goes around, comes around -- what we do for others selflessly, ultimately comes back in another way. 

As the prayer of St. Francis says: It is in giving that we receive.