February 19, 2015

Community Supported Agriculture Is Growing at JHU

Kate McCleary

Kate McCleary

Senior Project Coordinator

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

tomatoes-bins-RS1517_102_8956-scrThe thought of anything being able to grow locally may be difficult to imagine amid the frozen ground of February in Baltimore, but farming season has already begun. Crops must be planned in advance, seeds must be purchased, and labor must be organized, which can be difficult for small-scale farmers during a time of year when revenue is not as strong. One method to help sustain a farm is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), whereby members of a community pay a farmer up front for a share of the anticipated harvest, which arrives weeks later in the season.

For the last eight years, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future has partnered with One Straw Farm to offer a CSA drop-off site at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH). One Straw Farm is a family-owned organic farming operation located 36 miles north of our East Baltimore campus, and has been offering a CSA program for 16 seasons. They grow their nourishing vegetables using sustainable farming techniques and deliver the shares to JHSPH every Tuesday during the growing season.

While this model is helpful to the local farmer, there’s an additional component that also benefits the community. As with prior years, for every 10 shares purchased at JHSPH, One Straw Farm donates one share (enough produce to feed a family of four) to an organization in Baltimore that provides emergency food assistance (read more). These designated shares, plus any unclaimed leftover produce, are taken to the Franciscan Center immediately after our pick-up time. On Tuesday evenings from 5:30-7:00pm, they host a “chopping night” where volunteers help prepare the produce to be incorporated into the hot, healthy meals they serve to between 400 and 600 people a day. You can learn more about this service and how you can volunteer here.

The convenience of having fresh, healthy produce brought to the workplace makes this an attractive option; however, it’s worth asking yourself some questions and learning about the pros and cons to determine whether or not joining a CSA is a good option for you.

We offer some distinct features at our particular CSA:

  • Market-style pickup: rather than making up a standard box of vegetables for every member each week, members load their own boxes with some degree of personal choice.
  • Swap Box: members are able to exchange one item in their share for something in the swap box, which is stocked with two complete shares worth of produce in the beginning of the day. Tip: arrive early for the best variety.
  • Compost Box: a new addition in 2014 thanks to a member’s suggestion, this is where you can both lighten your load and reduce waste by leaving bits such as green carrot tops behind.
  • Weekly emails: containing recipes, preparation and storage tips for each item in that week’s share.
  • Help sharing a share: because we only offer a full-share option, you may wish to split a share with someone if it seems this will be too much produce for your situation. If you email csa@jhsph.edu, we will do our best to match you with someone else who is interested in sharing a share.
  • Volunteer opportunities: both at One Straw Farm and at the Franciscan Center.

JHSPH CSA Details:

2015 Season: June 9 – November 17 (24 weekly pick-ups)

Pick-ups will be on Tuesdays from 3:15 – 5:15pm in the JHSPH garage (map)

  • Price if paid by April 5th: $600 ($25 per week)
    • Enter coupon code ESDF2015 at checkout for the discount
  • Price if paid after April 5th: $650 ($27 per week)
  • Price if paid after June 9th: $27 per week (prorated based on the number of weeks left in the season when you sign-up)

Additional details, including sign-up instructions, are available on our website.

*The CSA at JHSPH is available to all Johns Hopkins employees and students.

As the manager of the CSA program at JHSPH, I want to thank everyone for a great 2014 CSA season and I look forward to seeing some of you again this year!

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