Each year, hundreds of local families join in a program that not only promotes local agriculture, but also has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from Loudoun farmers.
The program is called a CSA, which stands for community-supported agriculture. Here’s how it works: each year, a farmer will offer a number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.
“CSA’s are a convenient solution for people who love the taste of farm-fresh produce, but lack the time to shop, or wherewithal to grow it themselves. CSA shares come fresh-picked, packed and ready to go,” according to Loudoun Economic Development’s Executive Director Buddy Rizer. “CSA farm members have the opportunity to eat fresh, healthy food and can get to know and trust in the people who grow their food.
“It’s also a great way to support Loudoun’s rural businesses; by purchasing local food, consumers are helping to keep our farmland farming.”
CSA programs are unique to each farm and are based on what the farm grows or produces. At Potomac Vegetable Farms General Manager Hana Newcomb describes their CSA as “a flexible program with an emphasis on high quality and choice. We grow our vegetables using organic practices; our CSA gets first dibs on all the best produce, and our customers love being able to choose everything they take home.”
Many farms only have a limited number of CSA subscriptions, and since some CSAs sell out early, residents are advised to lock in their subscriptions now.
According to Acting Agricultural Development Officer Vanessa Wagner, “Loudoun’s CSA season generally runs from about April to October, but many sign-ups have already begun. Now is a great time to see if your business offers any perks for healthy choices or would be open to allowing your company to become a group delivery location.”
A number of Loudoun farms make CSA deliveries to a company or community location that’s convenient to their members. Others, like Georges Mill Farm Artisan Cheese, invite their CSA members to pick up their products directly from the farm.
“Our members enjoy a rotating variety of cheeses each week. We’ll be adding a raw milk CSA program this spring. Milk will only be available to members of the herd-share, who will pick up our delicious unpasteurized goat milk at our farm store each week,” said Molly Kroiz, the owner of Georges Mill Farm Artisan Cheese.
“Spring House Farm offers three different levels of CSAs, with a variety of both popular and unique cuts of poultry, beef, pork and lamb. Many people say they enjoy our CSA, as it challenges them to make new recipes from unique cuts,” said Spring House Farm Store’s Sales and Marketing Manager Kathy Martin.
With at least 18 farms already participating, Loudoun farms offer a wide assortment of delicious seasonal fruits, veggies, meats, eggs, dairy or even specialties like fresh-cut flowers, herbs, or honey. To find a CSA that offers the products that best suit your tastes, go to LoudounFarms.org/CSA.
The Loudoun County Department of Economic Development’s Loudoun, VA Made – Loudoun, VA Grown program promotes quality products that have been grown, harvested, raised or produced in Loudoun.