Dear PoPville – Can Anyone Recommend a Good CSA?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Nikoo’s Photos

“Dear PoPville,

I was wondering if you could do a survey of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs in the area. We got a share this year for the first time from a guy out in West Virginia and have been super disappointed. The program was expensive and all we get each week is a sack of stevia, wilted/rotting lettuce, and some extra dirty potatoes. To boot, he follows up each delivery with emails whining about how hard it is for him to bring us the shares we’re paying for, and telling everyone that we should drive to his farm on the weekends to weed his (unproductive?) garden.

We’re going to ditch this guy next year, but we like the concept. We’ve heard that there are great CSAs out there, and wanted to know which ones your readers think have worked out well.”

Ed. Note: We spoke a bit about CSAs back in May ’10 here.

62 Comment

  • We are using Earthspring, which has a dropoff point in Petworth, this year and have been pleased. For the most part everything is very high quality. I wish we got more tomatoes, but I supplement with trips to the Petworth Farmer’s market. We also get fruit, which has been great.

    My office has a group that buys from Potomac Vegetable Farms and they are also very good and have lots of dropoff points around the city and also sell at farmer’s markets. I only switched to Earthspring to avoid having to carry home veggies from our office. Good thing about the office option though is that if you work in a large enough place that you could get together a dozen or so interested people a lot of the CSAs will make your location a new dropoff point.

    • I split a share (with a co-worker) from Potomac Vegetable Farms and I’ll second it. This is our second year with PVF and our third year with a CSA; the fact that we renewed with PVF says a lot.

      (Added bonus for those who work or live out near Tysons Corner is that they’ve got a “farmer’s market” option this year where you get to stop by and just pick a certain number of items/bunches. Which is awesome, because not only does it make splitting a share much easier, but it also means I never go home with stuff I’d never eat.)

  • Try Arganica. Not really a farmshare, but it has a huge variety and you pick what you want. You have to buy a membership, and then each week (or whenever you want) you select items to order from their spreadsheet. They get produce as well as meat, cheese, pasta & much more from many different farms. (they tell you which ones are local) I like it because I can make sure I get stuff I will actually use, and we get to try new things all the time. (Sea beans, elk, goat sausage, etc) and no requirement to order each week if you don’t need anything.

    • I did not care for this group because nothing I received was local, so I didn’t get the point. I mean might as well go to HT or Safeway or even Eastern Market, which at least on the weekends has local produce.

    • I disagree with Arganica completely. Most of the stuff was not local but worst of all, most of it was older or wilted. We did the Living Social from six months back and stuff was consistently delivered in poor shape.

      Also, it felt really expensive to pay $45 for a mixed veggie box and get some kale, some lettuce, 3 carrots, two tomatoes and 4 peaches (or something like that – point is it always felt like nothing or very little in return for a lot of money).

      • The produce boxes aren’t that expensive… I think its $25 for Organic or $35 for Organic and Local. And plenty of their farms are from the VA MD PA area which is definitely considered “local” in the farm world for DC.

        I do agree that I’ve gotten a few items that were in poor shape, but that’s the minority. I got the Living Social deal as well which is why it’s worth it to me. I wouldn’t pay for the membership regular price.

    • Yeah this seems more like a food delivery service, rather than a local CSA.

  • We also use Earth Spring from the dropoff point in Mt Pleasant. Sometimes I wish there was a bit more flexibility in what we receive, but I mostly like getting things I wouldn’t normally buy because it forces me to add variety to meals. They provide a weekly email with recipe ideas, especially useful for the less common vegetables. Everything is on time, and with a couple of infrequent exceptions, everything has been good quality. You can also order meat, cheese, and fruit.

  • We use South Mountain Veggie and Creamery. It’s not a CSA but you can pick what you want each week via their web site and they deliver to your door. Most of their products are local but not all, and not all are organic. We find it more reliable than a CSA, plus they offer meat, dairy and a ton of other products.

    • I also recommend South Mountain Creamery. I haven’t tried the veggies, but we get almost all our dairy from them, which I believe is local. There are at least 6 people on my block who get it too.

    • I also use South Mtn Creamery and South Mtn Veggies and have not been disapponted. I like that I can get a small veggie/fruit box for $25 that lasts two people a week or I can pick my individual selections. Very convenient and they deliver to my house which I love. Good quality and great customer service.

  • Yay CSA! I highly recommend Dragonfly Farms ( They have a great CSA program that we used for two years before moving very close to a farmer’s market.

    Dragonfly Farms’ CSA program has a few different levels. The basic one includes your fruits/veggies, but you can pony up for vinegar (their value-added specialty), bread, flowers, etc. You can also order poultry from them as well…awesome for Thanksgiving.

    They have pickup locations across the city; we used the ones at 14th and P and Columbia Heights.

    Just a note about CSA’s in general: the whole point (and drawback) to CSAs is that you don’t have any flexibility about what you receive. With a CSA, you’re entering into a neat relationship with a farmer: you’re providing the capital for their farm. It’s not your typical customer-vendor relationship. It’s more like an investment. Just like when you invest in a stock, you can’t pick and choose your dividends. The real return is, like parkster said, pushing yourself to find new ways to cook and eat locally. That said, come fall it gets pretty hard to find a 20th way to prepare and eat butternut squash….

  • Since I drive to work in the MontgomeryCo suburbs, I pick up Sandy Spring CSA ( on the way home. There are tons of pickup sites. The CSA coordinates with Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, which means that each veggie may come from a different farm in PA (they tell you exactly where each item comes from). Since we eat from our garden and the farmer’s market in the summer, I’ve only used the Fall membership, which is an excellent way to keep eating local until Christmastime! $29.68 a week.

  • Washington Green Grocer (not technically a CSA) is also good if you don’t want to commit to the large upfront cost of a CSA. They deliver to your home and you can specify what you get to avoid allergies and the like. Arganica is also good, but it requires a membership, WGG doesn’t.

    • We use WGG and love it. It is a good mix of what is local and seasonal but also sprinkled with some of the non local stuff we like (oranges, bananas, etc.) They’re great!

    • They are so friendly, too. I have been getting top notch cantaloupe from them all summer.

    • But WGG stuff is basically coming from a supermarket. They are friendly and it’s good customer service, but nothing at all like CSA produce, so if that’s what you’re expecting, you’ll be disappointed.

      • In the Spring and Summer and even Fall this is just not at all true. Yes, over the winter they are sourcing stuff from all over, but in the growing season they are sourcing from MD, VA, and PA. Which as noted above is as local as it gets for DC. But it’s not like I’m getting Butternut Squash from Holland in July and Cherries from Peru in November, this is seasonal and local when possible; high quality and good selection when that’s not possible.

  • We use Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA. Their website is here:

    Our Capitol Hill pick up is at a church at 9th and Maryland NE, but they have two other pick up sites in Shaw and Glover Park. This is the second year we’ve used them and we’ve had great experiences.

    • I second Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA. I have used it for 2 years at 2 different pick up spots. I love it.

      • Love Lancaster Farm Fresh. The quality of fruits and vegetables is excellent and nearly everything is organic. It is not super-local as most of the farms are in central PA, but the quality cannot be beat. Also, they allow you to join mid-season for a pro-rated weekly cost.

        We were previously subscribers to Clagett Farm and were fairly happy there as well.

    • Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative is great. We get a half share and our pick-up is at Old City Green in Shaw.

      You can also add other food to your order, like milk, cheese, meats, etc. as you need it. Everything is always fresh and we love visiting the peeps at Old City Green every week to get it.

  • i use norman’s farm market ( you have to pick up your produce each week (there are several locations–i go to one in chevy chase), it is kind of cool because you get certain choices rather than a set basket. and you get fruit, which is a plus. i paid $675 for 24 weeks of the family share (which is their largest).

    • I use Norman’s too and LOVE it. Such reasonable prices — it’s $25 a week for a full share with more than enough produce for a week, so I hardly have to buy any “extra” groceries. Plus, it’s set up like a farmer’s market so you’re not stuck taking home produce you’ll never eat.

  • Thanks for posting this, PoP. Does anyone have any observations about pricing among the CSAs? Are there some significantly cheaper than others?

  • Deeply devoted to South Mountain ( and – love the ability to order what we want, their wide selection, and the fact that they deliver to a cooler on your front stoop.


    EDIT: WTF is up with the “you are posting comments too quickly. slow down.” coming up when I post just ONCE? Grrr…

  • I absolutely, totally recommend Star Hollow Farms.

    I did a ton of research before I joined a CSA, and this one was by far the best deal and the most flexible for a single person who wasn’t going to eat a whole box of vegetables every week.

    The pickup spot is in Adam’s Morgan every Saturday morning. Unlike a traditional CSA, where you pay a certain amount of money up front for a single season, with Star Hollow Farms you pay a few hundred dollars up front, and every week you order produce the amount is deduced from your account (you can add money at any time, but if you don’t order as frequently, then you’re not paying for produce you’re not getting). You can choose either the pre-selected “farmer’s box” or pick and choose exactly what you want via their online store every Wednesday. Getting my weekly email about what is available is kind of the highlight of my week. 🙂

    The food is all local and great quality, and the owners are super nice and enthusiastic. Oh, and it operates year round! And also have eggs and cheese!

    Clearly, I am a fan. 🙂

    • Oh, and I should add that price-wise, I spend about $15-$25 per week depending on what/how much I order (for one person plus occasional guests), which I think is a pretty good deal.

    • Second the recommendation for Star Hollow FArm. Have been getting veggies from them for two years now, and am super impressed with their supply, quality, variety, and customer service. Randy is the best (!) and is there every week if you have questions.

      They also have a stand at the small farmers market there, and if you’ve forgotten to order anything, you can pick it up on Saturday and they will deduct THAT from your account, too.

      Try it! It’s awesome!

    • Star Hollow is everything a CSA should be. Been a happy customer for 3 years.

    • Was directed to Star Hollow from the last PoP feature on CSA’s and have been so happy with them. Year round, but right now is the peak-of-the-peak!

  • Can people specify if their CSA has a large selection of organics? I would like to join one next year as well but am primarily interested in organic.

  • A friend and I split a share with Clagett Farm. Clagett Farm’s CSA runs mostly to vegetables, and they are awesome. Awesome to the point of them having a lottery to fill the vacancies each year. Pickup is either at the farm in Upper Marlboro or at Dupont, although hardly any of those open up for newbies – if you are sticking around for another year, you can change your pickup to Dupont, that’s what we’ve done. We also took advantage of their free-for-all on tomatoes last Sunday and picked over 30 lbs. They are pricier than most CSAs, but half of what they grow goes to non-profits and charities in the area. I can’t say enough good things about them.

  • Evenstar is great.

    It’s local, very high quality stuff. This summer we’re getting tons tomatoes, including strange and tasty heirloom varieties, different kinds of eggplant, cucumbers, peppers. It’s an interesting variety from week to week.

    The winter selection is great. I never knew how wonderful different kinds of greens were until we get this CSA.

  • I think this is also not technically a CSA, but a long time ago a friend recommended Door to Door Organics

  • mtpgal

    I second Washington’s Green Grocer ( There is no membership, you just order a box plus extras every week. You can get a mixed box or an entirely organic box and you can sub out whatever you don’t want. You can also order extra veggies/fruit plus eggs, dairy, meat, etc. We have been very happy with the produce and their website it pretty fun too (with great recipies). Hope this helps!

  • I use Licking Creek Bend Farms. The pickup is at the Columbia Height’s farmers market on Saturdays. They have other pickups as well. In addition to veggies, you also get fruit although they don’t offer eggs, meat, or flowers.

    I previously used Bull Run Farms. They offer fruit and eggs for an additional fee and have pickups in Dupont and other places. The produce was pretty high quality but you have to arrive early on pick-up day if you don’t want the dregs.

    You can search for other CSAs on

  • This is our second year with One Acre Farm (who has only been around for three years). They have a pickup on the Hill at 11th and C, SE, and used to do a pickup in Potomac as well. Farmer Mike is AWESOME — he was a film major in college at Penn State, but found that he really enjoyed working with a CSA up there and had the goal to start his own. He doesn’t have the official organic designation, but he operates his farm with true organic practices. We love the challenge of cooking with new-to-us veggies, as well as investing in someone who has such clear goals (with tasty results!).

  • I’ve been happy with Bull Run CSA — good variety and reasonable prices, with add-ons like eggs or fruit available. He has drop offs in Dupont Circle (P & 16) and Cleveland Park (behind the Uptown). Before and after the season he opens up the famr a lot of weekends for additional veggies, hiking, etc.

    Many CSAs that are not “officially” organic still practice organic methods – no chemicals, no GMOs. It’s expensive and a lot of red tape to get official certification. You might be missing out on good options by considering only those that have the official stamp of approval (which doesn’t really mean much, anyway).

    Try for a fairly comprehensive list of CSAs.

    • Seconded. He’s also got some fantastic unusual things like Romanesco cauliflower and okras every once in a while.

    • A third vote for Bull Run. In our second year now and very happy. Farmer Leigh can be a little disorganized, but we get a weekly e-newsletter, great veggies and eggs, and there are options for fruit (mostly peaches) and cheese. He also gives out his own honey at the end of the season. And, as mentioned, the trips to the farms are stellar, especially the end of year gleaning, when you can go out into his fields and pick whatever remains. Last year, our haul from that was obscenely awesome.

  • We used Spiral Path in 2010, with pick up at the Silver Spring Farmers Market on Saturdays. LOVED the all organic produce–it was always gorgeous and a good amount. But we hated having to get up there every Saturday. Weekend pickup stinks if you take a lot of trips in the summer.

    This year we are using Karl’s Farm. This is a much smaller, family run farm and I hate to rag on them but the quality and quantity is not nearly as good as Spiral Path. But we paid the delivery fee to have them drop it at our house, which is about as convenient as it gets.

    • I used Karl’s Farm for two years and have to disagree. I was really pleased with their produce. I don’t usually wax rhapsodic about vegetables, but their produce was gorgeous and extremely fresh. The home delivery was very convenient and their service was very responsive.

  • We’ve used Star Hollow Farms for almost 5-years & have always been pleased – as other said above, you can pick what you want, the produce quality is excellent & it is wonderful that Randy is there every week to answer questions, etc.

  • We’re in the same CSA as the OP…probably will try somewhere else next year or stick to the farmer’s market. We have met the farmers and they’re really nice people, and have even driven the hour out there to help on a few occasion. We wish they would be a tiny bit more professional in their emails…we are paying them $600 for the entire season, so it’s not really my fault the potatoes have weeds.

  • Washington’s Green Grocer. Someone on this website recommended it and I can’t say enough great things about them. I even started ordering meat from them.

  • I love our CSA, Orchard Country Produce: This is our third year with them, and I continue to be impressed with how well organized they are and the variety of produce we receive. Fruit is a standard part of the CSA (not an add on), and even with a small share, we get a TON of food every week. Their only DC pick-up is on Tuesdays at the DOT Farmer’s Market (at the Navy Yard), which I know isn’t convenient for everyone, but if it works for you, I highly recommend them.

  • Radix Farm has been amazing! Kristin is the awesome-est!

  • Lancaster Farm Fresh is nearly completely organic. I have been a happy member for 3 years. Convenient pickup in NE or in Shaw.

  • Star Hollow Farm is really, really good. Check out their website or drop by the truck (corner of 18th and Columbia) every saturday 9-12 a.m. I cannot reccommend them more highly. We’re in our third year and just ate the yellow and green beans from our box this evening. yum

  • very pleased with EarthSpring. we pick up near Big Bear once a week and get some good, fresh stuff. not too heavy on the kale [but you can never avoid it!]
    it makes us eat our peas/squash/tomatoes/eggplant

  • I would recommend *against* Karl’s Farm. Their produce is lack-luster in taste and compared to other friends’ CSAs I feel that we are not receive the volume/diversity of produce.

  • Just to add to the list: I’ve been happy with Oasis at Bird in Hand through Smuckers Farms (introduced previously on PoP). Great quality and decent size/price for one person. Now if only the store on 14th would open . . .

  • Been using Stoney Lonesome CSA for years. They don’t deliver to DC but we created a co-op so once every 8 weeks you go out to the farm in Gainesville to pick up for the group (8 members per group). The farm is worth the trip – it’s a great escape from DC with 90+ acres, picnic benches under the oak trees and an honest-to-goodness spring fed swimming hole. Community is important to Pablo and Esther, so they welcome members to use their farm for a fun day out. Everything is organic (although they are not certified), and there is good variety. Here’s the site: and their blog:
    Also, just a word on farmer’s markets – not all farmer’s use organic processes, and some use pesticides. Always important to ask each vendor what they do!

  • Has anyone tried Radix farm? I found their website on Local Harvest, and their website information was promising.

    I went with Big White Barn/Carollton Manor Farm (in MD) this year, because they offer bi-weekly shares, but I haven’t been very impressed with them. They are horrible at communication, so picking up my box is always a guessing game— plus they won’t tell you whats in it before you pick it up! The last few weeks’ produce hasn’t been stellar either. I’ll definitely be switching to a new one next year.

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