Our town is the ultimate suburb, with rows of neat houses bordered by sidewalks and the interstate running close enough to serve as a surface road when driving to the mall. But on the other side of the highway lie the rolling hills and fields of eastern Maryland. It was there we headed recently, on a daytrip less than ten miles from our house, but one that took us to an entirely different world of a small, family-run farm.
Calvert Farm runs a Community Supported Agriculture program or CSA. We pay a flat fee at the beginning of the growing season and for twenty weeks get a generous box of produce delivered to a natural foods store in our town. We also receive an invitation to the Pea and Potato Planting Party the first weekend of spring. Perfect for my intrepid family and also a chance to meet Pam, who owns the farm, and to see where all that wonderful lettuce and asparagus comes from.
Like many small farms in our area, Pam employs an Amish work crew to help her. The group on the day we were there included a number of young women who were clearing brush as well as a young boy who was helping to run string along the rows of peas. Every now and then I’d catch him watching Tommy with a sort of shy amusement, but he didn’t speak to us. There was also the gentleman in the picture below, who very kindly showed my children exactly how to space the peas and potatoes and how to use a hoe.
It was a gorgeous day and felt wonderful to be out in the spring air, sticking our hands into the earth, which was soft and crumbled deliciously between our fingers. The eager group of volunteers made short work of planting the acre that had been prepared for us. We all then trooped down to the shed that is set up as a farm shop. There we enjoyed a huge potluck lunch with bread and soup provided by Pam and a wide range of other casseroles and muffins brought by everyone else.
If you would like local, fresh produce but don’t feel like growing your own, a CSA is definitely the way to go. You can find one in your area at Local Harvest. And once you do, call and find out if you can take your kids there on a field trip or even to help out – it’s a great way to teach them about where the food they eat comes from and it’s fun too.
Outings like this always remind me that I don’t need to go far to take my kids on a trip outside the boundaries of their everyday lives. For more photos (including my Michelle Obama moment with a hoe) please visit my post at The Mother of All Trips.