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!
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 dried fruit, cheese, bread and other grains and legumes on a monthly rotation for a wholesome diet. Everything is Biodynamic or organic. The bread is hand-made, whole-grain slow-rise, non-yeast bread suitable even for many people who are considered wheat intolerant.
For those who cannot use use the bread or prefer a smaller share with just the fresh vegetables and fruit, we now offer 3 types of shares:
See more on what kinds of foods are in the shares throughout the seasons including sample shares.
Full Year Discount: The Full CSA Year is 12 months of food from the end of May to May the following year . A 5% discount is offered ($100 weekly, $50 bi-weekly) for your commitment to the farmers, to your own health and eating
habits, and to the School of Life that administers the program. This applies to the MAIN SHARE (with all supplements). The CSA year is 50 weeks, skipping two weeks during winter at the end of year holiday time.
Yes, new members who want to get their feet wet before making a commitment may join for a 6 week Trial Period. Then, if you join for the remainder of the season, this amount is applied to the prorated balance.
What is the cost?
See the Share Options and Cost page which has a chart for each share type, each season, and for weekly and bi-weekly shares. It may look complicated due to the various options but it is simply calculated out for the number of weeks according to what is included in the 3 types of shares.
How and when do I register and pay?
SUMMER season opens in springtime, WINTER season opens in late summer. Summer season registration includes the FULL YEAR (with discount) option as that is the beginning of our CSA year. SCHOOL YEAR registration begins in springtime also and continues throughout the summer.
The 6 week TRIAL can begin anytime. Send in your registration and we'll confirm a starting date.
The farms need to plant and plan so it is VERY helpful if you make your commitment long before the season starts. Please register early. We consider the deadline a month before the season start.
Yes, there are several ways. There are usually shares available even after the season starts. Please inquire, and we will prorate your registration for the remainder of the season.
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.
What farms does the food come from?
The main vegetable farm is Kimberton CSA certified Biodynamic and certified Organic through the Demeter Association. For more information on the farm and its gardeners go here. In addition to the weekly share from Kimberton CSA, Spiritual Food also provides vegetables (that Kimberton cannot provide) and fresh fruit from other Biodynamic and organic farms. About 75-80% of the vegetables come from Kimberton. The supplements included in our Main Share come from providers we know and trust from having established a relationship and worked together over many years.
We currently work with:
8 farms for fresh vegetables, fruit and eggs
4 farms for dried fruit
2 small producers (bakery, cheese)
a Farmer's cooperative
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.
Will one share be the right amount for me and my family?
If I only want half a share, what should I do?
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?
What if I miss the pick up time on Wednesday? Will I have lost my share that week?
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. In the traditional CSA model, it is the member’s ultimate responsibility to ensure a replacement for the remainder of the season. However, now-a-days staff can help take care of this. 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, please use the trial option first.
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 carrots or 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?
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 members to help pack the shares and set up. Members from all locations can participate - we are metro accessible. The time is 8:30 - about 10:30 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 reply to our e-mail requests and sign you up.
Members also help with bagging
dry goods (can be done at home or here) and special projects. 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.
To visit the farm on your own, please check with us and we'll find out from the farmers if it is a good time.
Is home delivery possible?
What if I'm going out of town for a long stretch during the season?
If you know before you register that you will be gone for a month or more, contact us and we'll see about prorating your share. However, the best 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 upholds commitment to the farm and gives an opportunity for others to
participate in the CSA. The yahoo chat
group is one place that share exchanges take place.
If you'll be out of town for a week or so periodically, as said above, many members give or sell it to a friend or someone on the yahoo group list, or contact us to donate their share while they are away. We have families who very much appreciate this, of course.
I thought CSAs were for
vegetables. Why does this one include
grains and other items?
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.
cannot eat wheat or dairy. What should
Frequency: bread is usually included for 2 weeks, then skipped for 3
weeks. (therefore bi-weekly members would receive it every 5 weeks.) Some members who cannot use it, share their bread with others who can. Those who want it more often can place an order.
Cheese is usually offered every 4-5 weeks i.e. less than once a month. Those who want more can order or purchase from the garage in Bethesda.
If you prefer a share without eggs or cheese, choose the Veggie/Fruit only and you can order or purchase other dry goods if you wish.
Can I buy more of some things that we use a lot?
Ordering more of the fresh food from the Kimberton CSA farm may be possible sometimes. A standing order of something while in season is the best option. Occasionally, when there is a surplus of something from this or any of the farms we work with, we will announce availability of bulk orders.
For other foods, we have a service called "special orders" where members can establish a standing order or order anytime (by Thursday) for pick up in Bethesda or delivery to other CSA locations the following Wednesday. A standing order is great for fresh items like eggs, yogurt and bread. Cheese, grains, dried fruit and legumes are also available along with staples like cooking oil, honey, nut butters, healthy snacks, etc. and household and body care products. See Special Orders and Mail Order Service. 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.
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?
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 or 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 reduced or 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.
still concerned about wasting food or money. What would I do with items I
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.