Why I’m Returning to the (Owl’s) Nest (and hope you’ll join me!)

Thumbs up for spring, Owl’s Nest, and local farmers!

Thumbs up for spring, Owl’s Nest, and local farmers!

I’m Lindsay, a DC resident and nonprofit consultant. I work on projects aimed at growing our local food economy. I can’t think of a farmer or local food business owner in the DMV who I’ve met that I haven’t been in absolute awe of.

The margins are generally low - sometimes terrible - but the passion and commitment is something else.

Last year, I signed up for Owl’s Nest Market-Style Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share after 10 or 12 blissful years of shopping at any number of great farmers markets.

I’m not shy to say that I’m sticking with Liz when we have SO MANY INCREDIBLE FARMERS to buy local food from. Here’s why:

  • It doesn’t get any fresher unless you grow it yourself. When it’s produced this close to where you live, it’s fresh, tasty, and it lasts longer in the fridge if it has to sit a bit.
  • Delicious product grown with us and the environment in mind. Tender collards, sprouting broccoli: OMG.
  • It’s an incredible deal and flexible. If I miss a market here and there, it’s a long season and there’s plenty of time to use my market credit when I can.
  • Great customer and member experience. From staying connected during the pick-up to the weekly newsletter, Owl’s Nest is a great communicator. Also, when your CSA members will write blog posts for you, you’re doing something right!

And now, here’s a few wonky bits.

  • I can reliably talk to a farmer every week. If it’s not Liz, it’s one of her team. It’s helpful to be able to follow the experience of one farm throughout the season while talking and buying from plenty of others too.
  • Also, farmers receive a decreasing share of the food dollar yet they’re the reason why we eat. So are distributors who handle our food, but when there are also options like a CSA to buy direct and get great food, I’m going to do that too.
  • Finally, data from the U.S. Census of Agriculture shows that overall beginning farmers, female farmers, and farmers of color, make less money than their white male counterparts who comprise most of our country’s farmers. (This should not be interpreted to mean that these guys are striking it rich.)

I gladly spend my money with all kinds of farmers and hope you will too. But I’m mindful of the data. If my money can do its infinitesimal part in increasing farm success for a broader diversity of farmers, I’m contributing to broadening opportunity, understanding, appreciation, and success of agriculture as a whole. This is desperately needed.

Mostly I’m returning to Owl’s Nest because Liz is a great farmer and I know I’m making a smart investment in my health. Supporting our local economy and a young, female farmer’s business is an added bonus.

I went home with armloads of Napa cabbage last summer. Along with Owl’s Nest turnips and radishes and expert assistance, I made this magnificent vessel of kimchi.

I went home with armloads of Napa cabbage last summer. Along with Owl’s Nest turnips and radishes and expert assistance, I made this magnificent vessel of kimchi.

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meet a CSA member: Alicia

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Why did you join the Owl's Nest Farm CSA? I was lucky enough to meet Liz through my job at Fair Farms Maryland, a grassroots campaign working to build a more sustainable food system in Maryland. Liz is on our Farmer Advisory Council and she is incredibly passionate about creating a better food system that preserves our environment and makes healthy, locally grown food more accessible to everyone, regardless of zip code or income. I love that not only does she walk the walk on the farm, but she isn’t afraid to speak up for what’s right and ask our local policymakers to do the same.

What tips do you have for folks who might be trying a CSA for the first time?

  1. Always ask the farmers for recipe ideas when you aren’t as familiar with an item or are getting bored of your usual preparation. Foster was great at this!
  2. Learn how to store greens properly. They will last so much longer if you take a few minutes when you bring them home to get them cleaned and bagged up with a paper towel or dish rag.
  3. Keep a list of what you get in the CSA on the outside of the fridge so nothing gets buried and forgotten. It’s always sad when you waste something – particularly when you know how much care went into growing it.

Please share your favorite recipe(s). One of my all-time favorite recipes, and one that is perfect for peak tomato and squash season, is this one for ratatouille with biscuits on top published in the New York Times many years ago. It’s so delicious – especially when you get the pork from farms that raise their pigs on pasture, like Cabin Creek Heritage Farms located not too far from Owl’s Nest.

meet a CSA member: Allison

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Why did join the Owl's Nest Farm CSA? I've always been interested in the ways I can support alternatives to the industrial food system, though for a while as an organizer I thought I was too busy to commit to the cooking that having a CSA would require of me. The half share ended up being a perfect fit! I get enough vegetables to keep me cooking over the course of a two week period without being too overwhelming, and I'm so glad to have so many more fresh nutritious veggies in my diet.

What was your favorite fruit, veggie, and/or herb from CSA this year? Dragon's Lingerie beans! I found a great recipe with tofu that made for great dinner or lunches. Getting string beans that are so fresh and delicious has allowed me to finally forget the overcooked bland cafeteria beans of our childhood.

I also love having salad greens around! I rarely buy them from the store because I'd found myself so uninspired by a basic green salad, but I ended up learning new dressings and really enjoying snacking on salad much more than I would have thought.

What tips do you have for folks who might be trying a CSA for the first time?

Consider the half-share! I am not skilled enough at cooking and meal planning to turn fresh veggies into a meal every single night, but getting it every other week meant I had more time to plan it out. I really enjoyed finding new recipes and cooking old favorites based on what was in the share.