Skip the grocery store produce this summer and go local by supporting NoVA farms through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program. One of the local adopters of CSA is Great Country Farms in Bluemont. This farm started its program back in 1993 with 50 inaugural members. Now, 27 years later, the farm offers 20 weeks of harvest box deliveries with over 30 pickup locations across Northern Virginia, ranging from Berryville to Alexandria. Before you sink your teeth into those juicy strawberries and plump tomatoes, Great Country Farms owner Kate Zurschmeide answers everything you need to know before joining your local CSA program.
What are the benefits of buying local through this program compared to the grocery store?
CSAs bring a whole new meaning to local and fresh. We pick items early in the morning and they arrive at our members’ homes or in our market for pickup the same day. Most produce is picked days or weeks in advance of reaching a grocery shelf and have a much bigger carbon footprint from the miles traveled. It is often picked for optimal shipping and storage rather than when fully ripe. We are able to let produce develop its full flavor potential in the field and orchard so our members can savor the peak of flavor. Our CSA is unique among those in the area as we include a season pass to our farm with a CSA membership, so families can come out to the farm to pick and play as often as they like. Our members truly have the opportunity to know their farmer and how their food is grown.
What can a member expect to see in their box each week?
We grow over 60 fruits and vegetables and we are very excited to be working with a new system to help our members customize their delivery based on the items we have available each week. Love tomatoes or want some extra to make sauce? When we have peak tomato production, members will have the option to change up and add more to their weekly box.
What tips or advice do you have for people who want to join a CSA Program?
We recommend members keep in mind that CSA is local and seasonal and delivers produce at peak flavor. It’s not like a grocery store that is shipping in strawberries from all over the world to have them available year-round. Our strawberries ripen in May and last about three weeks and have incredible flavor that is meant to be savored once a season. // Harvest box distribution starts June 2; Great Country Farms: 18780 Foggy Bottom Road, Bluemont; $29.95 per month