Community Supported Agriculture
Photo by Michael Ventura
Community Supported Agriculture subscriptions, in which consumers pay up front for a share of future harvests, is a popular model for Montgomery County’s small farms. The arrangement gives farmers the early-season cash they need, and offers them a guaranteed market when the crops are ready. And some CSAs require pickup at the farm, eliminating transportation costs. Members get a weekly supply of fresh farm products and a real connection to their food.
“I always stuck with the CSA model,” says Michael Protas, owner of One Acre Farm in Boyds, who’s entering his eighth season. Protas, who graduated from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac and lives in Rockville, says he likes the community aspect of it. “Over the years, I’ve developed relationships with people—as opposed to selling to a grocery store and never seeing who eats my food.”
For the Montgomery Countryside Alliance’s list of CSAs run by Montgomery County farmers, as well as those who have pickup locations here, see mocoalliance.org/community-supported-agriculture.html.
On-Farm and Roadside Stands
Photo by Michael Ventura
Homestead Farm, Butler’s Orchard, Heyser Farms and Lewis Orchards are among the larger establishments in our area with popular on-farm markets. Selling their own produce (and sometimes fill-ins from other farms), on-farm stores let farmers sell directly to consumers on their own turf, meaning no lugging tomatoes somewhere else, and no marked-up prices.
Montgomery County has a vibrant community of on-farm and close-to-farm markets. During the fall, Comus Market, owned by David Heisler, stocks more than 30 varieties of pumpkins and squash, all grown on the Dickerson farm. In the summer, the produce stand at Pleasant Valley Farm in Laytonsville sells sweet corn that’s grown and picked on-site, as well as home-raised beef and pork. Small stands dot the county’s agricultural reserve, too, so you never know when you’ll come upon a table of homegrown beans.
Down-county, roadside stands such as Potomac Farm Market, owned by Potomac native Steve Magassy, sell produce from his farms in Poolesville and Potomac, as well as from Montgomery County growers such as Lewis Orchards in Dickerson. Norman’s Farm Market, which operates three close-in roadside locations, has its own farm in Howard County, and also buys produce from farms in Pennsylvania and Virginia, and from Lewis Orchards.
For a list of on-farm markets in Montgomery County, see montgomerycountymd.gov