Spring, despite playing hard-to-get with us while chilling with Old Man Winter and giggling at our desperation for a hint of hope (no really – any indication) that warmth was on the horizon, it seems, is finally here to stay. It’s done toying with our heart strings and torturing us with its coyness. No, now, it seems, Spring wants to come in, pollen blazing, and act as if it never was acting all weird to begin with.And of course, like you do when you’re dealing with a season that’s way out of your league, we will all roll our eyes and then forgive spring quickly, soothing months of lost hope with sneezes amongst the fresh flowers. It’s a wonderful time of year. With Spring, too, comes the the pulse of the city. It can sometimes seem that DC hibernates in winter. Spring, though, brings it all right ‘round full circle.
Perhaps one of the best parts of the warmer months is the ability to support local farms and indulge in their goodies. Is there anything hipper than sporting a canvas tote with your farmer’s market kale spilling out over the top? I’d argue not. And there’s likely nothing as delicious, either. Most farmer’s markets and supplies come back full force in May. With that said, here are some farms worth your while within an arm’s reach of city center. Let the countdown to greener pastures begin…
First and foremost, Clagett Farm is a standup organization. They utilize their property for commercial and educational purposes and are exceptionally responsible economically and environmentally through measures such as a tree nursery that works against erosion, a grass-fed beef program, and an initiative that helps the poverty population gain access to fresh produce. Not to mention their association with the Maryland Grazers Network, which works with farmers to encourage the transition from corn-fed to grass-fed livestock. If that doesn’t sell you on their produce, you must be a veggie hater.
If you do choose to get produce from them, you can expect to gain access to things like salad greens, radishes, strawberries, tomatoes, squash, okra, sweet corn, garlic, butternut squash, carrots, turnips, and more (all seasonally, of course). Clagett operates on a CSA membership, meaning customers can buy a “share” of the harvest, and you can get as much of the harvest as your share allows or only get specific items from a “you-pick” list.
Little Wild Things is a unique addition to this list in a few ways. Firstly, they are a city farm (meaning they operate with less than a quarter of mile, right in the heart of the District)! Secondly, they focus almost exclusively on soil-grown micro greens, salad greens, and edible flowers. They sell their greenery wholesale to chefs and business owners throughout the city, as well as direct to consumer at Washington’s Green Grocer, Glen’s Garden market, Each Peach Market, and at the Bloomingdale Farmers’ Market. You can also support them by eating well at one of their restaurant partners such as Beefsteak (look for the Curried treasure Bowl!), Zatinya, Sally’s Middle Name, and Chaia, just to name a few.
Kuhn Orchards is an orchard that’s been family owned, run, and operated for five generations now. Their land is located not far outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and they supply to a variety of farmers’ markets all around these parts – including in Northern Virginia, Maryland, and DC. Some items they bring to the table include apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, asparagus, sunchokes, tomatoes, herbs, root vegetables, and more. In addition, they also make delicious treats such as applesauce, apple butter, canned peaches, honey, and jam. If you want to eat the goods through these guys, you can find them in DC on 9th St, NW, on 14th and U Street in front of the Reeves Center, and at the Cleveland Park farmers’ market. Or, order from the comfort of your home via their online a la carte ordering system.
Another family owned farm, Truck Patch is based in the hills of Sam’s Creek and is a fifth-generation family-owned business. In contrast to some of the other farms listed here, Truck Patch offers both a wide variety of produce as well as livestock options. They carry beef, pork, and poultry in wide varieties as well as veggies such as baby spinach, arugula, cabbage, and asparagus. You can find their farm-raised goodies at Mt. Pleasant Farmer’s Market or U Street Farmers’ Market on Saturdays in season, and Bloomingdale Farmers’ Market on Sundays in season.
While everyone loves some veggies, it’s still good to indulge in other food groups now and then…and local farms can help you do just that. Keswick Creamery stems from a family dairy farm near Newburg, PA in Cumberland Valley. Their cows are raised in a humane and healthy way and their output is worth the calories for sure. A sample of their goodies for sale:
Vermeer Aged Raw Milk Cheese
A dutch style natural rind cheese that has the creaminess of gouda with the nuttiness of an alpine emmenthaler.
Creamy and smooth, it melts well. A blend of jalapeño, habanero, and birdseye peppers make this a cheese to remember.
Tomato and Basil Feta
Bulgarian style cow’s milk feta is rich, creamy, tangy and salty. Basil and dried tomatoes from Sunnyside Farm and Orchard in WV make this feta a great snacking cheese too.