Charm City CSAs

Carrie Murphy

It's spring! Well, almost. Just a few more weeks until it's officially spring (come onnnnnn March 21st!) but if you're itching for warm weather as much as I am, there's something else you can do to plan for the coming months: join a CSA! Having a CSA (community-supported agriculture) share is a great way to get your fill of local fruits and veggies (especially in the warmer months, but year-round) and support local Maryland farmers. If you've wondered about how and where to find one, I've done a little big of the leg work for you.

When you buy a CSA share, you'll get a box (or bag) of fresh produce weekly (sometimes biweekly or even monthly). I think CSAs are really great for a few reasons: they support the local agriculture and economy and they encourage people to cook with different ingredients they might not be used to (parsnips, anyone?). Having a CSA share is the perfect way for a foodie to figure out what it really means to eat seasonally.


Real Food Farm is one of my favorite options of CSAs in the area, because their food is actually grown right within the city limits of Baltimore. Take that, people who think all of Baltimore is like The Wire! Their summer CSA has pick-up locations in the northeast portion of the city, and the winter CSA is centered around the Clifton Park neighborhood.


One Straw Farm, located in White Hall, is a popular choice: this CSA program offers 8 items a week for 24 weeks, beginning usually in early June and ending in November. Pickups are all over the entire Baltimore metropolitan area from Bel Air to Ellicott City to points in between, including several local farmer's markets, churches and even the Timonium Fairgrounds.


Out in Cecil County, Calvert Farm is a small family farm that's been certified organic by the Maryland Department of Agriculture. They offer both a summer and fall CSA (the summer deadline has actually already passed, but you still have time to apply for the fall one!) Moon Valley Farm in Cockeysville is full-up for the season already, too, but if you email the owner she can put you on a list to receive excess shares. 


Deep Run Farms, out of Carroll County, offers both whole and half shares for their weekly CSA, although you have to go to the farm itself to pick up your food (hey, a scenic drive, not too bad!) Nev-R-Dun Farms is another Carroll County operation offering a CSA for veggie-hungry people, and they farm on certified organic land.


Big White Barn Produce, of Buckeystown, MD, offers a CSA from the food produced at Carrollton Farms. Bryan Voltaggio, of Top Chef fame, reportedly sources much of the produce he serves in his restaurants from this simple family farm. Weekly and bi-weekly options are available (as well as half-shares) and the CSA begins in May.


If you'd like a more involve experience, Pearlstone Farms might be just the CSA for you. Members of this share often help out at the farm, with deliveries or with educational workshops. Sounds like they're pretty serious about the community aspect of community-supported agriculture, huh? This might be a fun CSA to join if your have children and are interested in having them learn more about where their food comes from (or if you just want an excuse to get out of the house during summer vacation!) The Pearlstone CSA runs from May to October and pickups are in Owings Mills and Park Heights.


If you're a carnivore (or maybe just going paleo?) Green Akeys Farm offers a meat CSA, which is $400 for three months of meat, averaging 15 lbs a month. For totally grassfed beef and lamb as well as pastured poultry, that's a deal.


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