Member Handbook

Spiritual Food CSA
4217 East-West Highway; Bethesda, MD 20814


 Welcome to the Spiritual Food CSA


This is general information for members of all sites. Consider it your CSA HANDBOOK.  You will receive a short letter from your host coordinator also.  If you have any questions, check the website or call the number above.


We request that if you pick up your share anywhere other than Bethesda, to see the Box Care and Handling information below and also view the 2 minute video.  It is really important for preserving our boxes and our budget.


We also invite you to read the Philosophy of the CSA

(left bar link under Vision or

as it is the foundation of the program.




Kimberton CSA in Kimberton, Pennsylvania is the main farm we are working with that will provide the vegetables.  Besides our members, they also provide vegetables for another 150-175 or so local families.   2016 was the 30th year of operation of this CSA as a Biodynamic farm.  See the story on The CSA Farm (top bar link) on our website. We will be also working with a dozen or so other biodynamic and organic farms that provide the supplemental fruits, dairy and grains, etc. 

 The harvest is on Tuesdays at the farm and will go into our refrigerated truck to be brought to Bethesda. Wednesday mornings it is sorted and displayed, and the van loaded to deliver to other locations.

ABOUT THE CSA This CSA is consumer-based, rather than farm-based; we organized ourselves and sought a farm to supply quality food.  Our philosophy is educational and service-oriented.  Please read The Philosophy of Spiritual Food CSA (link above in blue) for an important glimpse into what lies behind the scenes and behind the quest for good nourishing food.


Special orders refers to ordering additional things from our organization that can be picked up along with your CSA share or at the main location in Bethesda.  Please see this link for information. 



The Member Information > Using the Food section of our website gives general info and basic cooking tips in an easy to follow format. A lot of effort has gone into this – some sections are complete.  More can be done -- if you’d like to add to it, let us know!



The Kimberton CSA Farm provides lots of greens of all kinds – chard, kale, lettuce mixes, spinach, escarole, mustard greens, arugula, Asian Greens, collards, turnip and beet greens, and herbs such as: parsley, cilantro, basil.  Not all at once, don’t worry!  But you’ll need produce bags or a “Salad Box” (plastic container to store veggies in the fridge) for these, and also perhaps ideas to prepare and eat these powerfully nutritious foods.  There is plenty to do with them as raw salads, cooking and even freezing for the seasons in-between.  Juicing is a great way to maximize nutrition and to use the greens if/when you don’t have time for much other preparation. 

 One of the most creative and simple ways to use the greens and other vegetables is a “Blended Salad.”  You basically gather what you would put into a salad and toss it all into a blender with a little water, some dressing or lemon/lime or vinegar and oil.  Cucumber, tomato or avocado going in first make a nice dressing on its own. Herbs and salt can be added.  Can add nuts and seeds too for a more full meal – consider adding after blending for various textures. Heartier greens normally cooked can be consumed this way in moderation. Green smoothies are great also adding a couple leaves of greens to your favorite smoothie blend.  Blended Salads are quicker to make and eat than regular salad especially if we’re rushed or tired or don’t feel like eating salad.  Raw food is, in fact, an important part of whole foods nutrition as it retains the enzymes which carry the life force and keep our immune system and everything else functioning optimally, plus give plenty of fiber.

 Simply stir fry any greens, (high heat oil like coconut or ghee, and garlic) or just add to whatever cooked dish you make like a soup or casserole.  There’s an article called Glorious Greens on the website with several suggestions.


The Spiritual Food CSA member chat group is a great place to share recipes.  We send out the share list on Tuesdays with information and ideas.  Please feel free to ask or give yours too.




See the letter from your host at the beginning of a new season, or on the website “Pick up days and hours”


Are you getting a NO Bread share or Veggie/Fruit Only share?

Please be careful to take the correct thing when you pick up.  It is up to you to get it right so another member does not get shorted.

 §  Veggie/Fruit Only:  boxes will be labeled with bright colored stickers and we will try to set them aside from the others at your site.  At Bethesda, if you have Veggie/Fruit, do not make your share from the tables; instead pick up a box labeled as such.

 §  NO Bread share: the bread is always kept separate anyway, so simply take your share skipping over the bread. 



We know schedules are tight and things come up.  Late pick up info will come from the host at your specific location as it depends on each location. Keep in mind, if a share is not attended to over night it may be unrefridgerated (except in Bethesda) and subject to animals and by the next day may be given away.  Hosts need to know if you will be late.  (On the bright side, some CSAs can have only 2 hour pickup windows while ours are 6-8 hours depending on the location.)



·        Have a friend pick it up; introduce them to the CSA and the great food!

·        You can try to “sell” your share to a friend or by posting a notice on the yahoo group. We encourage this because it has worked very well in the past. We encourage you to please not underprice the share if you post in on the chat group.  The value is at least $40-43.

·        You may contact your host to donate your share.



For all members who do not pick up in Bethesda, your shares will be pre-packed and delivered in re-useable folding boxes.  Besides being environmentally and economically friendly, your food won’t get crushed and can be kept nice even without plastic bags.  The boxes are packed by volunteers and we do our best to keep a neat presentation.  Much thanks goes to the farmers who bunch and bag the greens.  On occasions when there are loose items, we may use a paper sheet to separate them. 


Bread will NOT be put in the veggie box so it doesn’t don’t get wet.  You will need to be on alert to take that from a separate plastic bin or box– usually we’ll use one with a blue cover and will stack it near the boxes.  The weekly share list posted on the CSA yahoo list serve and also posted at your pick up site will tell you when to look for bread and what is in the share.  (BYO bag for your bread)


VERY IMPORTANT – Your CSA invested in these boxes and they can live a good long productive life if we are careful.  Please handle them properly and BRING THEM BACK EACH WEEK when you pick up your next share. 

·        Bend the flaps on top and bottom rather than pulling open

·        Make sure it’s clean and dry

·        Flatten and return the following time you get a share of food


PLEASE, PLEASE watch this 2 minute Box folding video so the boxes don’t get torn.  Or

We do retire worn out boxes, but to be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to hold the bottom of the box when it’s heavy so it doesn’t open and spill out the precious food. 


 SPECIAL ORDERS at your pickup site:

There may be coolers or other boxes at your pickup site (for members of the Essene Church of Peace who are supplied with dairy and other raw products, and for those who order additional items from Spiritual Food).  Please be mindful and do not take anything from these by mistake.


 If you send another person to pick up your share




Deposits are usually made in the second week of each month for all checks dated through the 1st of that month.  For installment payments, i.e. if you have presented post-dated checks be sure to let us know if there is any reason the money won’t be available, such as you had to close your account or you’d like us to hold it a bit longer.



 E-mail and the chat group are the main means of communication from us, along with flyers posted at pick up sites.  PLEASE READ THEM. You are part of this community and the messages are for You !   If you don’t use e-mail much read signs and pick up handouts and occasionally ask what’s going on. 

Please do not let e-mail flow into your spam/junk folder.  The senders will be:;; and if you sign up on the yahoo group:


 For questions about your pickup location contact your host. 

Your pickup site host/coordinator will be in touch through e-mail -- If you don’t get a letter by the weekend before the season starts let us know.  We wait until then as the lists are refined in the final week.



see:  Locations & Hosts

If there are questions about pick up or anything related to your location, contact your host (rather than the main CSA number.)


MEMBER CHAT GROUP Members Chat Group

Very important for staying in touch with your CSA community, the share list is posted every Tuesday and you get an email with a link to check it out.  It is also a great way find out about using the food or sharing your recipes. It is for building community such as coordinating pick-ups, finding replacements for taking your food or volunteering, and to learn about things happening.  It is a private group for members only and you will not be deluged with e-mails.  We ask members to post only things related to CSA operations.  Anything beyond that, please run it by the organizers first.  Occasionally, we will forward news about food-related interests. 


For general CSA questions The first set of links on the left side and FAQ are the first place to go.

 Remember, if there are questions about pick up or anything related to your location, contact the host/coordinator of your pickup site.


To contact the organizers: call 301-654-4899 or

Lakshmi (

Durga (   



HOW THINGS GET DONE - members of the School of Life all work with the CSA in various ways but…



Volunteering is a very important element of the CSA model as well as being much needed for the weekly chores.  The community building and the economic impact are far reaching aspects of a new world view where love, cooperation and compassion serve as the basic framework for society.  We have restructured and cut down on the needs for volunteering realizing it is difficult for everyone to participate, but many members, to their own surprise, tell how positive the experience is in terms of working with the food and with others, contributing to the sustenance of so many people, working with their hands and minds in a concrete and beneficial way and learning what goes on behind the scenes.  And it is absolutely needed to sort the food and make the shares every week.  School-age children especially like to help and often ask for more!  As a member said:  Service makes the experience even more nourishing”, and the comments usually tend towards – “I wish I'd done this sooner - it was fun and satisfying.”  Helping out at the CSA is part of maintaining the quality of food and business relations that brought us together.  See below for How To Sign Up.  E-mail reminders go out the week before you come.



In Bethesda, this involves packing shares and sorting for other locations, setting the food out for display, making signs, and making the space beautiful.  Start at 8:30 am (if later, let us know) and allow 2 hours.  Staff and regular long term volunteers are there to direct. Every week needs 1-2 member volunteers. You don’t have to pick up in Bethesda to spend a Wednesday morning helping and learning by experience how the CSA work.

Metro accessible.


Bagging dry goods can be done at any time at your convenience here or at your home. Things can be sent to any location on the van or picked up in Bethesda. School age children often like to help out and ask for more.  Older children can do community service hours. Bagging parties of 2-4 members are fun and many hands make light work. 


Clean Up in Bethesda Would you like a quiet job on flex-time?  The Bethesda clean up crew needs a few new faces and hands.  Great work for couples or friends or make a new friend.  Can be anytime between Thursday and Saturday, once a month on a rotation schedule.  Ask Lakshmi about this important task.


Or let us know what you like to clean and we’ll make it work!

Fun special projects helping others learn more about using the food (we have resources), promoting the CSA, behind-the-scenes organizing, and seasonal clean-ups. 



1) For Wednesday morning set up, please make the coordinator’s job easy by signing up right away. 

o   Sign up yourself online through SignUpGenius

o   contact us to do it for you

o   respond to an e-mail that we send out


2)       For odd jobs and special projects, contact Lakshmi at

3)    To offer help at your pickup site, contact your coordinator.


another volunteer opportunity - FEEDING THE HOMELESS

Our sister organization, Essene Church of Peace, an interfaith organization that facilitates the provision of special raw food products including raw dairy as a religious right, prepares a delicious home-cooked meal and serves120 –150 homeless people downtown every Sunday. You can donate food, cook Sunday morning, join in to serve downtown or help with clean up.  There are other service projects as well. All are invited to participate – please contact Durga through this email address:



Once or twice a year there are organized FARM TOURS. We visit the garden, bakery and dairy in Kimberton, PA and our farmer gives a great presentation on Biodynamics.  Tours might be in May, July or early Fall.  Look for e-mail announcements.

 If you are interested in visiting the farm on your own, the farmers welcome you whole-heartedly, however, we ask you to please plan ahead by contacting us and we’ll find out if it is a good time for them.  We also ask you to please be as self-sufficient as possible and not to expect a tour or chatting time with the garden staff.  They are extremely busy on their long workdays and need to rest on their scant time off.  CSA members are welcome to the U-pick offerings but again, please contact us first.  You are also welcome to offer much needed help in the garden, usually weeding, but please realize this too should be planned ahead as it sometimes requires coordination or “training.” 

 Information about visiting the farm is on our website under Meet The Farmers. 



We have not missed a food delivery in all the years of Winter CSA in spite of some very snowy days.  However, snow can cause delays, so if the roads are bad on a Wednesday (or a Tuesday which could delay food delivery) check your e-mail for an announcement, or if the power is out, call 301-654-4899 (or back-up 240-855-4456).  If your power is out, voicemail works but answering machines will not unless battery powered.  So if you are expecting a call back but don’t have voicemail, stay near the phone or keep calling us until we answer.



The best way to encourage new people to join the CSA is your own testimony.  Please spread the word to family and friends. 

Unless the CSA is full, people can still join after the season starts. 

Summer/Fall season registration begins in March.


Feel free to contact us with questions or comments anytime,

Looking forward to a great season. 


On behalf of the School of Life

May Peace Be With You,

Om Shanti