At the main "headquarters" location on East-West Highway in Bethesda, we are fortunate to have plenty of space to lay out the food market-style for people to make their own shares. This is the traditional CSA model and how it is normally done when pick up is on the farm. Just seeing the food laid out in the bins, measuring and packing your food, mixing with other members adds to the experience of trust and community that we seek in CSA.
Having said that, the CSA here is self-serve, so if you're new or sending a friend to pick up your share, we have a little 2 minute video orientation.
How to Make a Share at the Spiritual Food CSA
and here is the full information on how things operate here in Bethesda, including directions and parking at the end. Please read the Member Handbook (below this link) and Philosophy of the CSA (under Vision) as well for general information and inspiration.
PICK UP TIME: 12:00 noon to 8:00 pm
LOCATION: 4209 East-West Hwy, Chevy Chase, MD 20815. Directions below.
CONTACT: 301-654-4899 or SPIRITUALFOOD@SCHOOLOFLIFE.ORG
(use only these contacts for late pick-ups)
PICKING-UP the SHARE
The CSA is self-serve. Hosts may be around the first couple weeks to provide orientation but normally you are on your own . . . or you can always ask/follow around other members in the garage to see how it’s done :)
Ø The Bethesda CSA is similar to a market in that the food is displayed in bins and boxes; but it is very different from a market in that everything is portioned exactly so there is enough for every member. It is very important that everyone take the right amount according to the signs so that those who come last get their full share. Every item is labeled with how much to take and there is a blackboard on the wall and flyer on the desk to double-check yourself.
Ø Bring Your Own bags – cloth, paper or a box. Bring 5-6 produce bags each week or a “salad box” especially for your loose greens. Don’t count on finding them here as we may run out any time. Bring your extra to restock our bins! (Salad box is any plastic box with cover that fits on your fridge shelf and is super convenient for storing veggies and avoiding the hassles of plastic bags. Put a little of everything in it and pull it out to make a meal)
Ø If you are unfamiliar with using the scales, ask someone. This is very important, especially if you are used to the metric system as the scales are in ounces.
Ø Please be careful not to drop things on the floor; put your loose greens into bags first, then weigh them.
Ø For those who come last 7-8 pm - In spite of our best efforts, it may happen sometimes that some items run out early even though the farm sends surplus every week to avoid this. With so many people coming through in throughout the day, mistakes may happen. We address this by checking early evening and if something is low, putting out a special bin (usually it’s a yellow tray) with extras that can be substituted.
o To give perspective to this, the original CSA model was to just take what one needs from what is offered rather than an exact itemized list. However, since we are not on the farm to replenish throughout the day, we prefer the exact list method.
o Please keep in mind that everyone, members and staff, have good intentions and if at the end of the day things are sometimes different from when it started, it is still a great offering of food.
See below “EXTRA THINGS AVAILABLE from Spiritual Food” which explains the things for sale on shelves and in the big fridge with glass doors.
Dairy products and things in the big silver fridge on the left side of the garage (behind the glass door fridge) are pre-ordered by members of the Essene Church of Peace and are not available. If you are interested in the raw milk and other products, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Please select produce randomly (big, medium, small). If there is 2 of an item to take, select 1 big and 1 small; or select a big head of lettuce this week and a smaller one next week, etc), so others do not get the least.
For items to be weighed, please weigh carefully. If everyone goes over an ounce, then several people may get none at the end of the day. Sometimes there is surplus but sometimes not. If it is written “Up To X ounces” that means there is no surplus so please don’t go over.
Sometimes there is a choice – red OR green mustard leaves, one large zucchini OR 2 small. Please be mindful and don’t take from both bins in such a case! It is OR, not AND.
Keep the space clean and neat. Food dropped on the floor is wasteful and also messy.
If you are splitting your share with someone you should arrange with your partner to either pick up every other week and decide who will start on the first day, or to divide the share in half every week. Please coordinate carefully so you are not picking up at the same time! If you choose the later, please have one person make the whole share, then go off to the side and divide it. Avoid having 2 people come through at different times taking half share. If your partner will come later, please leave his/her half in the glass fridge (bottom middle shelf) and both partners should come on Wednesdays please as our storage space is limited. The walk-in cooler is not available for this purpose.
VERY IMPORTANT: If you ask someone to pick up your share for you please explain to them how the system works.
CAN’T PICK UP ON TIME?
In Bethesda, if you know in advance you will not be able to pick up during the scheduled hours, you can:
· Arrange for someone else to pick up your share the usual way
· Arrange for late pick up by letting us know in advance (by Tuesday mid-day and we’ll bag it for you. It gets packed and put in the glass refrigerator the day you say you’re coming with your name on it. CALL 301-654-4899 or E-MAIL: SPIRITUALFOOD@SCHOOLOFLIFE.ORG (any other e-mail address will not do and you may not get your share)
· Missed pick up Wednesday? - We understand that sometimes even the best planned days go awry. If you contact us Wed evening or by Thursday morning 10:00, we can still make your share for late pick up. But please don’t make a habit of it. With so many members, we simply don’t have the supplies, staff or space to do it for everyone all the time
· If you would like to donate your share, please let us know and it will go to a home in our wider community which includes those who cannot afford CSA or will get used for our Home-Cooked Meals for the Homeless Program.
REDUCE, RE-USE, RECYCLE
The CSA is trying hard to reduce and reuse packaging of all kinds.
Ø Bring your own bags or a box weekly for making your share including lots of bags for produce and herbs.
Ø Cloth is by far best, re-using paper and plastic from other stores is also good. There is a 5 cent tax on plastic in Montgomery County and DC so plan ahead as these may be harder to come by now. We have some cloth bags for produce and dry goods available for sale. Be sure to put your name on them in case they’re left behind one day.
Ø Save your clean, dry paper and plastic produce bags to share. There are bins in the garage for you to add your extras and to take from if you forget yours one day. Please do not bring newspaper sleeves or oversized plastic bags and please clean out receipts and dirt. In other words bring bags that you wouldn’t mind putting your food into.
Ø You might want to designate a special bag (paper, cloth or plastic) for your bread pick up and keep it with your other CSA bags. There is info on the website (food-a-pedia, the bread entry) about storing this kind of bread.
Ø Consider bringing a quart size glass or plastic (such as yogurt) jar/container to transfer dry goods into so you can leave the Ziploc bag behind for reuse.
Ø Return any clean plastic Ziploc bags, egg cartons, etc. THAT YOU GET FROM HERE. No others please. The space for collections is under the counter on the left.
Ø YOGURT CONTAINERS are no longer being collected. You may recycle them at your home.
Ø Anything not listed, please recycle at your home. Our collection area is for re-use, not recycling.
Ø Your ideas on this are welcome!
EXTRA THINGS AVAILABLE from Spiritual Food
Ø There is a small space in the garage providing additional items CSA members have been interested in such as dried fruit, nuts, grains and legumes, oils and spices, and environmentally friendly cleaning, body care and office products. This also operates on an honor system with a money box on the desk, a calculator and scrap paper to write your own “receipt.”
Ø There is an IOU option if you don’t have your checkbook or change but PLEASE do not let these accumulate more than a few weeks. If you choose to leave an IOU it is your responsibility to follow up and honor it
Ø If there is something you want that is not out on the shelf, leave a note or send an e-mail by noon Friday (to Durga at email@example.com) and we can package it up for the following week or order it special for you. To see a product list go to Special Orders on the website Spiritualfoodcsa.org
Ø You can place standing orders such as for bread, yogurt, eggs, granola through Durga at firstname.lastname@example.org or the main e-mail address.
Ø Dry goods and fruit in season can be sent to friends and family anywhere in the country. We periodically send out a notice. Just call or send your order by e-mail.
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES / COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
As you know, the CSA depends on help from members and people from all of the pick-up locations do chip in. It’s fun! Can we count on you? Go here to sign up once or twice this summer/fall. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/spiritualfoodCSA/database if you have joined the CSA yahoo list serve group. If you haven’t yet, see Members Yahoo Chat Group link on www.spiritualfoodcsa.org. Now is the time to get the dates you want and then we won’t be bugging you all season J
There is much to be said and pictures too on Why We Volunteer on the website. Check it out!
SET UP on Wednesday mornings
In Bethesda, this involves packing share boxes for other members and setting the food out for display here. We start at 8:30 am – allow 2-2 ½ hours. Children who can help are welcome. Staff work alongside and show you what to do. Heavy lifting not necessary. If you have to arrive late or leave early, let us know. You’ll get a reminder email.
It is critical that we have enough help every week as your fellow members are counting on having everything ready on time. It is fun to work together and a great feeling of contributing to something tangible and wholesome. It gives members a chance to see and appreciate what is involved behind the scenes in handling this beautiful quality and big quantity of food. Members from all pick up locations come.
Many members take the morning off work to make their volunteer contribution. Or schedule it during a holiday and bring the kids.
If you need to switch your date, you can go to the sign up table online and contact others near your time to see if they can switch. You can also post a notice on the yahoo list serve, or in an emergency, let us know and we’ll seek a replacement.
Now is the time to sign up! You get the dates you want and we get to relax when the schedule if full. There is a sign up chart on yahoo in the Spiritual Food CSA group, under the “database” link – here’s the direct link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/spiritualfoodCSA/database We also keep a paper sign up chart in the garage. If you’re not a member of the yahoo group yet, go to www.spiritualfoodcsa.org > Members Yahoo Chat Group and follow the easy instructions.
SPECIAL JOBS—for any of these, contact
RE-STOCKING - Wednesdays
Bethesda can use help fixing up the food display on a regular basis such as every or every other week for a few months or a season. If you will likely be picking up at a regular time such as 2, 4 or 6:00 and can stay a few minutes extra to organize things, please let Lakshmi know at the e-mail address above. We set up a rotation for several people to share this important job. This will involved consolidating the remaining food, moving bins and boxes out of the way, bringing out fresh things from the cooler. We provide aprons to keep your clothes clean!
BAGGING Dry goods
This involves weighing, labeling and counting the dry goods and can be done here on site or at your home if you don’t mind carrying things back and forth. It’s a favorite task of elementary school age children who can put into practice sorting, counting, weighing for a good cause. Older children often do it for community service hours. Good for those who absolutely cannot come on a Wednesday to help. Let Durga or Lakshmi know, sign up in garage, or respond to an e-mail announcement.
CLEAN UP – Anytime Thursday through Saturday
This is a quiet, after hours job where you sort out boxes and things that come from the other sites, organize the recycling, and putter around putting things in place. Can be done alone or with a partner. (And if you don’t want to come here twice in a week, we can pack your share for you and keep it cool until the day you come.)
There’s other occasional cleaning to do too such as wash the van, the refrigerator, the countertops. So if cleaning is your thing, consider sharing it with the CSA!
Wanted: Experienced CSA members to help new folks get acquainted. If you remember back to when you first joined the CSA, you’ll know how important this is. There are several ways old members can help the new.
Ø The first 2 Wednesdays of the season, hosting in the garage for a few hours to orient new folks. We make a schedule, let us know to include you!
Ø Throughout the season, we would like to ask “old” members to be attentive to newer folks who might appear to need help understanding the signs, using the scales, navigating the recycling station, the refrigerators, the store, or whatever. Sometimes people send friends to pick up their shares so even well into the season someone can be new and bewildered. Plus, this kind of sharing and caring will help ensure people take the right amount of the food and there is enough for everyone.
Ø Sharing your ideas on using the food is always welcome. Remember how you felt the first time you saw kohlrabi or collards? It can be a conversation in the garage, a note on the bulletin board, a message posted on yahoo, or become a buddy to a budding member.
PARKING: The driveway is pull-through, please come in by the mailbox and go out up the hill. Park facing the house, perpendicular to the road, this is very important so people coming behind you can get in and out. In the spirit of cooperation and community let’s be happy and friendly to our fellow CSA members even when more than a few arrive at once!
Alternative parking: the house next door, across the bridge, same side of the street, #4217. In this case, park parallel to the house and back in to the space so you can go out forward -- even if the lot is empty when you arrive it may not be when you leave. Unfortunately, all the side streets nearby have parking restrictions until 7 pm.
Suggestions to keep things smooth and flowing peacefully. We don’t mean to make it sound difficult but do expect these measures will help:
Ø During evening rush hour, best to come from Connecticut Ave as traffic is less in that direction.
Ø The 3:00-5:00 time is normally slow
Ø Park carefully, close to the next car even if it’s not busy when you arrive. If you have to, park 2 deep, blocking someone in, announce when you get to the garage that you’re blocking such and such car so you can leave together. You can always block the large van and trailer if they are there . . . .. just don’t block the exit!
Ø Stay calm! We are all in this to make positive changes in our lives and in the world. Even when there is high traffic in the garage or the parking lot, let’s remember the harmony and positive forces painstakingly put into the biodynamic food by the farmers and let’s all try to keep the energy pure.
Ø Group pick-ups – not only to relieve congestion here but to save on gas and your time, we encourage people to get together and pick up for each other. This has been very successful in the past. There could be a Rockville group, Silver Spring, Greenbelt, Northwest DC group, whatever. It could be a small group of 2 or large of 10. You can coordinate this through the YAHOO group.
Ø Consider metro – less than 10 minute walk from Bethesda station.
Ø Several members come by bicycle
Ø Unfortunately, the staircase coming up from the trail is no longer there.
Ø Community interaction is a highlight of CSA but IF it is a crowded time, please don’t linger in the garage or parking lot.
Ø And remember it’s usually busy at the grocery store too!
Looking forward to a great season!
4209 East-West Highway is between Connecticut Avenue and Wisconsin Avenues near downtown Bethesda. It is on the North side of the street, just next to a bridge that crosses a hiker-biker trail. Coming from Connecticut Ave., it is just before the bridge on the right. Coming from Wisconsin Ave, just after on the left.
There is a double yellow line on the road that technically, one should not cross. If there’s no traffic waiting, people turn left of East-West Highway all the time but if you are not comfortable with that, or if people are beeping behind you, go to the first side street and do a U turn there.
From the Washington DC beltway:
Take exit 33 Chevy Chase/Connecticut Avenue South. Go 1.2 miles or count 6 lights and turn right onto Rt 410 East-West Highway. Go half mile and turn right into the driveway, which is the last house before a bridge. A mailbox out by the road has the number 4209. Be sure to be in the right lane and going slowly so as not to miss it. It is a single story white house with a pull through driveway. If you miss the house, go over the bridge and park in the first driveway on the right at 4217 East-West Highway. You may walk back to 4209.
From Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda:
Turn onto Montgomery Avenue (rt. #410, a one way street). Stay in the middle lane, which bears right and puts you onto East-West Hwy. Cross the bridge. Turn into the first driveway on the left; mailbox with number 4209 is out by the road.
From the Washington DC metro (subway) system:
On the red line, exit at Bethesda station. At the top of the long escalator, turn right and walk through the tunnel, then up the short escalator and out the glass doors. Turn right to walk east down East-West Highway going away from Wisconsin Avenue. Cross the street at one of the lights. Pass the high school. #4209 is the first house on the left after the bridge. The walk is approximately 1/2 mile or less than 10 minutes.
From Downtown Washington, DC:
Drive North up Connecticut Avenue passing through Chevy Chase circle to enter Maryland. At the 4th light, turn left onto Rt 410, East-West Highway. Then, follow directions above from the Washington, DC Beltway starting with "Go half mile..."
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