Grow Your Own

This post was written by Going Green DC contributing writer Alison Drucker.

Sometimes city life can leave you aching for fresh air – and fresh dirt. Not that grimy, stuck-to-the-bottom-of-your-shoe city dirt, but clean-smelling, produce-cultivating countryside dirt.

Get your hands dirty at Clagett Farm, a sustainable vegetable farm in Upper Marlboro, MD, owned and operated by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Any able-bodied person can sign up to volunteer picking produce on the farm on Tuesdays through Saturdays. At least four hours of labor will get you the same full weekly share of fresh, local vegetables that a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) member receives.

The workshare is perfect for anyone who isn’t ready to commit to an entire season’s worth of harvest through a CSA membership, or who just wants to go learn about sustainable farming on a beautiful fall morning. Clagett Farm isn’t certified organic, but follows organic standards and doesn’t use genetically modified seeds.

In addition to doing good for the planet, the farm does good for the community. Almost half of Clagett Farm’s produce is distributed free or at a reduced cost to low-income DC communities in cooperation with the Capital Area Food Bank, expanding access to the fresh, healthy foods we all need in our diets.

Visit the Clagett Farm Web site to learn about participating in a workshare. Saturday workshares require calling ahead to sign up. Call 301.537.3038 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. a couple of days before the Saturday you want to work.

There’s still time to volunteer this season – September, October, and November bring broccoli, kale, cabbage, butternut squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, salad greens, carrots, turnips, collards, chard, spinach, and more.

If you’re adventurous in the kitchen and willing to explore new recipes as different fruits and vegetables are in season, purchase a 2010 CSA membership. Email to be notified when shares are available, and join the farm to get weekly batches of the season’s harvest.

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