Weekly Set Up at the CSA

Each Wednesday morning, volunteers work alongside staff to prepare the weeks share of the harvest for members.  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.  See below for other CSA tasks and projects.

Why Volunteering?

Volunteerism is a common practice in ordinary corporate, non-profit, government, and such enterprises. In many cases it is a way to build up a resume or to gain access to certain positions, which means there is a personal benefit expected from the action. In other cases it is a true desire for service that comes from the soul. In the science of Yoga, volunteerism is framed as a very clear practice called Karma Yoga. 

Karma Yoga, or “service” or “devotional service,” specifically establishes that the action should be performed without any expectation for the fruit of it. That is no expectation of reward or any form of tangible benefit. Yet there is something very valuable in its practice if we look at it in its right context. 

A human birth is a precious opportunity to learn about our ultimate destiny. Thanks to our intellectual and reasoning capacities we have been given the possibility to recognize that we are pure spirit embodied temporarily in a physical frame and capable of feeling the urgency of fulfilling the purpose for which we came to this planet.
The immortality of the soul, that has gathered trough eons of time knowledge of its true nature, inspires and sustains our awareness of the reality of a spiritual world. 

At some point in our existence we realize the need to manifest our capacities for what they were intended -- the practice of unconditional love. But unconditional love is not easy to manifest, moreover conditional love is first developed and tends to grow into strong attachments that are very difficult to transcend.

The great gift of reasoning capacity that we human beings have (as opposed to instinctual capacity by which our brothers and sisters of the animal kingdom operate) leads us, often after protracted and painful experiences, to inquire about the purpose of our existence. Hence we strive to acquire what is known as transcendental knowledge. This is a very beautiful stage of our existence but again not easy to come about. First we have to ascend through the preparatory steps. One of the important initial steps is in learning the difference between service and devotional service. Service is the path to love; devotional service is the path to unconditional love, a God - like trait that gives us a taste of divinity. 

Goethe said “to reach the infinite, one must tread the finite in every
 direction.” In other words in order to understand Eternal Life we must first understand everything about this life. But, thanks to God’s mercy we have been granted as human beings the possibility, working within our limited capacities, to practice simultaneously both levels. 

We have heard repeatedly from several members of the CSA and the
School of Life how surprised they were of the satisfaction derived from doing “Karma Yoga” as we call it or volunteer work as it would normally be understood. Doing this work for the CSA there is no expectation of reward. This shows the wisdom of this ancient practice, which brings about the experience of love even without any preparation or expectation of any kind.

The boon or special additional gift comes when, once we have discovered the blessing that comes with this practice we can enhance it manifold by simply embracing the notion that our activity is in alignment with God’s will, given that it is done for the purpose of serving our fellow human beings in each one of whom we can see the divinity within. 

With time elation starts to grow, without any apparent reason. When we learn what true happiness is - the precursor of joy, that happiness comes from within without any external stimulation - then we start experiencing the freedom from dependence on external objects. When we are free of attachment to “things” or “stuff,” which we sometimes confuse with a source of happiness, we know the blessing of the spiritual work has started flowing in us. We are on our way to experience and discover the true reality of the spiritual world for us to explore and attain.

Karma Yogis

Hanuman has been bringing the food from Kimberton PA for most of the CSA history since 1997.  He now 
spends every Tuesday year round stopping at several Amish farms as well for the dairy program all together bringing between 2,000 and 4,000 lbs of food for the CSA and Essene Church of Peace on a weekly basis.  He also does the local deliveries to our various pick up sites around town on Wednesdays keeping track of what goes where to whom, plus maintains the vehicles and refrigeration.

Parvati works every Wednesday packing special orders and working with the overall operation of packing share boxes for the various pick up locations around town.  She also does home deliveries.  

For more volunteering photos go here

From set-up to blueberry picking, the CSA has many great volunteering opportunities!

CSA Volunteering opportunities here
The Details of Volunteering

Volunteering is not mandatory, but is necessary!

We feel that mandatory volunteering would be an oxymoron, self-contradictory, however this CSA depends on member participation for its operations. The reason is that volunteering is an important element in the community building and economic impact of the CSA idea, as well as for encapsulating the spirit of service and connecting with our source of nourishment. Economic impact means we prefer to pay farmers the true cost of food over paying high overhead costs at the consumer’s end.

It is important to keep up the positive energy all the way from mother earth's body until it is in our bodies. Love is the main nurturing "vitamin" that this food should be providing and we should reinforce it with our loving care for the benefit of our families and all the CSA members.

Ideally everybody should contribute in one way or another, but we should not prevent people from joining if they cannot volunteer. Single parents for example, should benefit from the extra effort that those in a better position can offer. The spirit of community is precisely to practice sharing and love for each other, understanding each other's predicaments so we can all "trust", a very battered word in modern society. A better world will not happen if we don't make it and we have to start a step at a time.

On a practical note, volunteering makes the CSA run… and fun! 

In reply to whether she would host the Arlington CSA for a 5th season, Susan replies- 
"We would love to!  We truly enjoy it!  If someone else would like to, let me know!  Others should have the opportunity to have such a wonderful experience!"

PLEASE be prepared to join in! It is fun to work with the food and share in the community spirit; more so, if you have a desk job, need a mental break, are at home with children and need an outing…we can think of lots of reasons to volunteer even besides the fact that there is much work to be done!

Those with 9-5 jobs are often able to arrange a few hours off a couple times in a season to accommodate setting up on Wednesdays. If this is absolutely not possible, other tasks are available.

School age children are welcome and usually enjoy and benefit from the experience. Those with infants and toddlers usually prefer to come without the children (or choose one of the tasks that can be done from home). Some teens and pre-teens have volunteered with the CSA for Community Service hours for their school.

What follows is details on what needs to be done and how to sign up. Members receive an e-mail about this each new season so don’t worry about trying to remember it all.

The Main Tasks:


This involves packing share boxes for the other locations and setting up the display for Bethesda members, making signs, and neatening up the space.  Allow 2-3 hours starting around 8:30 on Wednesday mornings.

If everyone helps once or twice during the season all chores will be covered easily and we all enjoy the community effort!  Members from all sites may come - we are metro accessible if that helps. 

SIGN UP for weekly set up:

We use SignUp Genius.  Here is the link:


  • Best to sign up at the beginning of the season.  It also continues online on throughout the season.
  • If you need to verify the date you have chosen, check on the same link.
  • You will receive a reminder email that asks for an RSVP to confirm.

Once you sign up, you will be counted on for that day

  • If you must change your date, you can post a notice on the yahoo group (e-mail to spiritualfoodcsa@yahoogroups.com) asking for a switch or go to the chart to see who is working around the same time and contact them directly for a possible switch.
  • If there is a last minute emergency, be sure to contact us at spiritualfood@schooloflife.org or call 240-855-4456 to see what can be arranged


Dry goods come in bulk and need to be bagged and counted.  This can be done in Bethesda at a time convenient to you or picked up along with your share to do in your home at your convenience.  You’ll be contacted when needs arise.  This is a great opportunity for those who cannot make it on a Wednesday morning and for school age children as well.  Participation by members from other locations is strongly encouraged and gives everyone the opportunity and experience of contributing to the whole community. 

Look for e-mail messages or contact us anytime (301-654-4899, spiritualfood@schooloflife.org).


In Bethesda, two members or member couples rotate monthly to put things away and tidy up.  This can be done at their convenience Thursday through Saturday.   This is a quiet and very satisfying job and a tremendous help.

There is also general cleaning to do such as washing counters, refrigerators, the vans scheduled at your convenience (a great job with children in the summertime). 


Each location needs a coordinator to be contact person for members and the management.  It is often the homeowner but can be very helpful to have another willing member on the team.


There are many fun projects looking for enthusiastic members, such as:
  • Organizing recipes
  • Researching food topics
  • Welcoming new members and answering their questions
  • Interviewing people in the community 
  •  Even picking blueberries!

You don’t need to be an expert or even experienced.  We can offer guidance to make it easy; volunteering is a good opportunity to learn something new and expand your horizons, and to really make difference. 

Some of these projects can be done from home so are good options for those who absolutely cannot get away to volunteer on site.

 Help is also needed by experienced members to help manage things while the School of Life is on retreat twice a year, such as:

  • Supervising set up in Bethesda
  • Driving to the farm and around town for local deliveries
  • Preparing the share lists

We understand that everyone is very busy with this fast paced life.  Please consider what you can do to contribute to the CSA community and its goals of providing good food, supporting special farms and building food security for all. 

Opportunities for special projects are here