I had never heard of micro-farming or Community Supported Agriculture ("CSA") until a couple of years ago when I was looking for an accessible and affordable way to put locally grown fruits and vegetables on the table. As much as I enjoyed the farm markets and even going straight to the source at larger farms in my area, on busy weeks (or when traveling over the weekend) I often found myself having to hit the produce aisle at the grocery store.
So when I overheard a couple lamenting their upcoming move to a different state and having to give up their beloved CSA, I butted in an asked a couple of questions.
What I learned is that micro-farming/CSA consists of one or more local "little" farms - usually in someone's backyard on on their residential property. Skilled farmers engineer the farms, taking care of everything from planting to irrigation. The micro-farms grow seasonal fruits and vegetables that fare well in the geographic region. Each CSA sells "shares" of the farm, available to the general public in the local area, and shareholders receive a weekly or bi-weekly box of whatever from the farm is in season. In my area, which is Northern Virginia, the growing season for CSAs start in early Spring and end in late Fall. Many CSAs also offer local eggs, honey, and cut flowers. Some CSAs deliver, but many have local designated pick up spots.
When we moved to our current neighborhood and I learned that there was a CSA in our area, I jumped at the chance to sign up.
Our local CSA is run by the skilled and energetic farmer Allyson, who farms two large residential plots in Fairfax and Fairfax Station, Virginia. Using, bio-intensive and micro farm growing practices, Allyson cultivates a diverse and nutritious harvest of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. She also includes local eggs and honey if the CSA member requests (I do!) and deliveries are at the local coffee shop just a ten minute walk from my house. Our first delivery of the season will be this May.
I took a drive to visit Allyson at one of her sites - only a fifteen minute drive from my house but seemingly miles into the countryside. I was amazed at how a busy byway gave way to winding roads and rustic farm houses. The site is on the property of a friend with a flat farm plot (less than one acre) with woods just beyond the farm house. Even though it was early March, tilling had begun, and a few hearty colder-weather crops fought the near-frozen ground. A short walk across a field, downhill from the farm, there is a roomy hen house with curious chickens scratching around (when it turns warmer, they will roam outside) and beyond that two rows of beehives which turn out lots of lovely honey 🍯.
Allyson is a seasoned farmer 👨🌾 and loves her craft. She grew up in Northern Virginia, but developed her skills in Scotland and the Netherlands, and also running an urban farm in D.C. Now in its second year, Allyson expects Pocket Farms to continue to serve the community and maybe even expand to additional plots in the coming years. If you live in the Fairfax and Fairfax Station areas, check out Pocket Farms and sign up!
I look forward to my first box and meeting some fellow CSA members. I strongly encourage you to look into whether you have a CSA in your community and if not, why not find a farmer to start one?