Live More, Commute LessLive More, Commute Less

Feb
26

Farm to Table at Your Own Home – Join a CSA!

By Sarah McGowan

As the sun stays with us a little longer and days are warmer, many of us can’t help but think of summer cookouts and the good food that accompanies them.  One way to take full advantage of those perfectly sun-ripened tomatoes, sweet corn and crisp greens is to join a CSA (community supported agriculture).

A CSA provides “city-folk” with direct access to food produced by local farmers.  Basically, CSA shareholders pay for a “share” of vegetables for a set number of months (usually by season).  This cost allows the farmer to plan for the season, repair equipment, purchase seed, etc.  In exchange, each week shareholders receive a box of locally farmed, seasonal vegetables. Many CSAs also offer options to purchase locally produced meat, cheese, eggs, flowers, breads, and other goodies!

Each CSA is a little different, but there is usually a “host site” (this can be an individual’s home, a school, farmer’s market, etc.).  This is where the vegetable boxes are dropped off by a CSA representative and picked up by CSA participants. Your CSA will work with you to find a host site that is closest to your home to facilitate pick-up.  Alternatively, many farms offer CSA share pick-up at the farm itself.

Most CSAs also have different sized “shares” – full, half and even quarter shares – depending on how many individuals you are feeding and your budget.  Another option is to split the share with another individual or family if smaller shares are not an option.

Why would I participate in a CSA when I can just go to the grocery store?

The produce is fresh. The typical American meal travels 1,500 miles before it is consumed. That lettuce you just purchased was picked and stored up to 4 weeks ago. And how about that tomato? In the U.S., tomatoes can be picked and stored for up to 6 weeks. In order to transport our produce long distances, it is often picked while still unripe and then gassed to “ripen” it after transport. Am I making you hungry? Conversely, the vegetables you are getting through your CSA have been picked the week you receive your box. Yum!

CSAs are more sustainable.
Remember that 1,500-mile road trip your veggies took to get to your plate? That trip contributes to your food’s carbon footprint.  Vegetables from your CSA box generally come from farms within 100 miles of its drop-off point.  Additionally, CSA vegetables are seasonal, meaning that you are not going to get a tomato in January.  Vegetable production accounts for a large percentage of a vegetable’s carbon footprint – think of the energy needed to heat and light a tomato hothouse.  By eating local and seasonal, you are cutting down on both transport and production emissions. Bonus: Your support also helps to keep the farmer’s small business sustainable!

It expands your palette. Garlicky scapes, Jerusalem artichokes, and stinging nettles – oh my!  While CSA boxes include common seasonal vegetables – tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, etc., if you are lucky, you will get a few surprises. Initially, it may feel a little bit like playing Iron Chef each week, but most CSAs give you a list of what to expect in your box a few days before pick-up, which helps with planning – some CSAs even provide recipe ideas! As five-year CSA veteran (with kids), I have found that it has really pushed my family to incorporate vegetables into our meals that I would never have considered – with (mostly) very
positive results. 

It’s an opportunity to meet new people. Since most CSAs have a central pick-up point, it is not uncommon to meet participating neighbors at these pick-up points.  The question, “What do you usually do with all of these turnips?” is an easy conversation starter and you may find that you have a lot more in common than a turnip problem! Our gracious CSA host has also held potlucks for our CSA group and put those who are interested on a listserv where we can exchange emails regarding vegetable storage, recipes and food swaps.

Are you sold?

Interested in trying a CSA this summer?  Here are a few that cater to those living in Northern Virginia:

Fair Oaks Farm 

Aldie, Va.

Mollie Madison

571-257-4243

locallygrownva@gmail.com

www.fairoaksfarmva.com

$495 full share, 16 weeks; or flexible CSABucks program in which members choose produce, meat, eggs, flowers and more for pickup at farm shop

Pickup locations: Alexandria, Arlington, Chantilly, the District

Pickup at the farm: Yes

Great Country Farms

Bluemont, Va.

Mark Dewey

540-554-2073

csa@greatcountryfarms.com

www.greatcountryfarms.com

$499-$649 (depending on pickup
or delivery site), 20 weeks; delivery to homes or businesses in
Northern Virginia.

Pickup locations: Aldie, Arlington, Ashburn, Chantilly, Fairfax, Herndon, Lansdowne, Leesburg, Sterling, Vienna

Pickup at the farm: Yes

 

Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative

Leola, Pa.

CSA department

717-656-3533, ext. 2

csa@lancasterfarmfresh.com

www.lancasterfarmfresh.com

$599-$855 vegetable share, 26-week summer season; fall and winter seasons available; chicken, meat, fruit, flower, herb, bread, cheese and egg shares available. Cooperative of about 100 farmers.

Pickup locations: Arlington, Baltimore, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Columbia, Damascus, the District, Fairfax, Falls Church, Frederick, Gaithersburg, Great Falls, Herndon, Kensington, Leesburg, Montgomery County, Olney,
Potomac, Reisterstown, Rockville, Silver Spring, Springfield, Takoma Park, University Park, Vienna

Pickup at the farm: No

Polyface Farm

Swoope, Va.

Sheri Salatin

540-885-3590

farmchick@polyfaceyum.com

www.polyfaceyum.com

Pay-as-you-go buying club for meat (beef, chicken, turkey and pork) and eggs; monthly March through November. Delivery.

Pickup locations: Alexandria, Annapolis, Arlington, Ashburn, Centreville, Fairfax, Falls Church, Kensington, Laurel, Leesburg, Manassas, Occoquan, Potomac, Reston, Silver Spring, Springfield, Takoma Park

Pickup at the farm: Yes

 

Potomac Vegetable Farm

Vienna, Va., and Purcellville, Va.

Hana Newcomb

703-759-2119

hana@potomacvegetablefarms.com

www.potomacvegetablefarms.com

Full Share:  Three share sizes: mini ($25/week), regular ($34.50/week), robust ($46/week) 16 week summer share, 8 week autumn share Delivered shares cost $3/week more. 1/2 Share:  mini share is $25 per week, 16 weeks in summer, 8 weeks in fall. Either or both.

Pickup locations: Alexandria, Arlington, Burke, Falls Church, Fairfax, Herndon, Reston, Springfield

Pickup at the farm: Yes

 

Spring House Farm

Lovettsvile, Va.

703-999-6636

info@springhouse.farm

www.springhouse.farm

$220-$672 for three-month, meat-only shares (bi-weekly delivery).

Pickup locations: Arlington, Ashburn, Centreville, the District, Hamilton, Leesburg, Vienna

Pickup at the farm: Yes

 

Willowsford Farm

Ashburn, Va.

Michael Snow

571-297-6900

info@willowsfordfarm.com

www.willowsfordfarm.com

$729 large share, $513 small share, 27 weeks; vegetable, egg, prepared food items, flower, chicken, milk and other shares available, as well as weekly pre-orders for all farm stand items. Additional delivery sites may be available.

Pickup locations: Aldie, Ashburn

Pickup at the farm: Yes

Feb
26

Slug Lines Come to I-66 Corridor

Slug lines, or informal carpool rider pick ups, have been used in the DC area for decades.  Most of the slug line activity revolved around use of the I-95/I-395 corridor, whereby “drivers” would pick up “riders” to enable them to use of the HOV lanes.  The riders would typically be dropped at the Pentagon or along the route that the driver would take to his/her place of employment.  Most riders would be picked up at park & ride lots or at bus stops.  Riders get a free ride and the driver gets use of HOV lanes and has a faster commute.

Now that I-66 HOT lanes are operational, a whole new slug line culture is emerging within this corridor.  In fact, a website has been developed with information on where and how to take advantage of I-66 slug lines.  This information is reproduced below.  Slug on commuters and take advantage of this win-win situation for drivers and riders alike!

Reproduced from I-66 Slug Lines.

Slugging is a unique form of commuting, different from carpooling; driver and rider(s) are dynamically matched at the slug pickup location based on their destination. Slug lines assist drivers by reaching the two person HOV requirement to avoid tolls, and rider(s) get a free ride. We have about 10,000 commuters along I-95 corridor using this unique form of commuting. With the conversion of I-66 HOV lanes to toll lanes, about 14,000 clean fuel vehicles lost their exemption to travel on I-66 during peak hours. After a month of coordination and communication with I-66 commuters, we came up with few accessible pickup locations. We still have to run it through the local government and other organizations. Most of the afternoon slug lines are co-located with the existing slug lines in DC. Slug lines grow organically and depending on the demand and convenience, locations may be added or modified by the commuters.

How do they work?

The driver pulls into one of the many known locations for slug lines, where riders line up.

The driver holds up a SIGN or rolls down the window to CALL OUT his/her destination.

Riders first in line head to the driver’s location get into the car and off they go!

East bound morning slug lines:

1. Vienna Metro South KnR 9550 Saintsbury Dr, VA 22031

2. Fairfax Govt. Center PnR 12000 Govt Center Pkwy VA 22035

3. Stringfellow PnR 4734 Cochran Pl. VA 20120

4. Cushing PnR 7312 Cushing Rd. VA 20109

5. Herndon-Monroe PnR 12530 Sunrise Valley Dr. VA 20191

 

West bound afternoon slug lines: Virginia:

1. The Pentagon 179 S Rotary Rd. VA 22202

2. Rosslyn 1901 N Moore St, VA 22209

Washington DC :

1.Foggy Bottom 23rd St NW & I St NW bus stop

2. 15th & NY Ave 1445 New York Ave NW,
DC 20005

3. 19th & F St 554 19th St NW DC 20431

4. L’Enfant Plaza 679 D St SW, DC 20024

5. Navy Yard 300, M street SE, DC 20003

Looking to coordinate rides?

Join www.facebook.com/groups/i66sluglines.

Have questions?

Post them at: https://sluglines.com/a/forums/forum/sluglines.


SLUGGING RULES & ETIQUETTE

  • Confirm destination
  • Say hello and thank you
  • NO MONEY EXCHANGED
  • First come, first served
  • Feel free to pass a rider or a ride
  • Buckle up and drive safely
  • Roll up the windows,
    maintain room temp
  • Keep it clean for the ride:
    body and car
  • Play acceptable news or music
  • Drop off at the pickup location
  • Keep your phone conversation short  (less than 2 minutes)
  • Do not force conversation
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke
  • Riders do not operate the car
  • No personal grooming in the car
Feb
26

The Quest for the Perfect Summer Camp

Lake Drummod. Photo credit: John Henley. Virginia Tourism Corporation.

It’s hard to believe, but those long, lazy days of summer are just around the corner!  While the summer months can conjure up nostalgic memories of relaxed, school-free days, they can also be a challenge for parents who work, or who are looking for ways to keep their kids engaged and active as the summer wears on.

Luckily, in the DC-metro area, there are a variety of camps available that range in price and cater to different interests. With so many available options, keeping a few things in mind can help you find the perfect camp for your child:

What interests your child?

This is probably the most important question to answer. With so many themed camps to choose from, it helps to think about the types of topics and activities that interest your child.  Some camps are very focused. Would your child be happy playing soccer or basketball every day? Is your child happier playing indoors or outdoors? As a camp instructor, I witnessed more than one unfortunate mismatch between camp and child. Picture a kid who is fearful of worms and finds fishing boring at a camp where that was the activity all day,
everyday – this actually happened.  The camp, aptly named “Fishing Camp,” was a dream come true for most of the kids, but perhaps the parents of this young man didn’t realize to what extent the kids would be fishing, or thought he would “warm-up” to the sport.

Do your homework. If you can, talk to someone who has a child who has previously attended the camp. If you have any questions or uncertainties, call the camp director.  And, by all means make sure your child is part of the camp decision process.  By the way, STEM camps are all the rage right now, so if that is something that interests your child, be sure to sign
up early!

Sleep-Away Camp?

Most overnight camps are offered to children starting at about seven years old. Camps range from high-adventure (think ziplines, white water rafting and horseback riding) to performing arts-focused to traditional camps that touch on a little bit of everything. Once again, think about what interests your child.  You might also want to consider accommodations – is the camp single sex or co-ed? How many kids attend the camp? Do campers spend the night in tents or cabins? These types of details can make or break a camper’s experience.

Day Camp?

When we hear “camp,” many of us think of the traditional “sleep-away” camp, but there are many exciting day camps to look at too. Day camps are typically offered to children beginning at four years old. Similar to overnight camps, think about the theme and camp size.  While many day camps offer a variety of activities, there are a number of specialty camps focusing on sports, the arts, nature, etc. Additionally, you want to think about transportation – is busing an option, or will you need to drive your child each day?  Do camp hours coincide with work hours, or do they have an aftercare program?  You may also want to inquire about lunch options for your child.

Interested?

The following are more resources to help you and your child make some decisions about how to spend a week (or eight weeks!) of their next summer.

Week-long day camps are offered through the Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William County Parks and
Recreation Departments.

With zoology, soccer, fishing, gymnastics and chess camps (to name a few), there truly is something to fit every child’s interests.

Fairfax County: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/camps/

Loudoun County: www.loudoun.gov/camps

Prince William County: www.pwcgov.org/government/
dept/park/summercamp/Pages/default.aspx

For a comprehensive listing of private day and overnight camps, check out Washington Parent’s 2018 summer camp guide: www.washingtonparent.com/guides/guide-camp.php.

The American Camp Association has guides on how to choose and prepare for camp, as well as comprehensive information on topics like camp accreditation, the value of camps and camps as an industry: www.acacamps.org.

Feb
26

Dulles Matters: New International Routes from Dulles in 2018

By Rob Yingling

Good news for travelers looking for a long-distance getaway: Cathay Pacific will offer nonstop flights four times per week from Dulles International Airport to Hong Kong beginning September 16. The airline’s new Airbus A350-1000 will enable the 7,085-nautical-mile route to become the longest flight serving either Dulles or Hong Kong. The service was announced in December, and reservations are available at cathaypacific.com.

Globetrotting also just got easier to Dulles’s most popular foreign destination: London. Primera Air, a low-fare European carrier, announced new service from Dulles beginning in August. Five weekly flights will whisk passengers to London Stansted Airport, located just northeast of the city and connected by express train service. A new Airbus A321neo will operate on the route, fitted with a total of 198 seats – 16 in premium economy and 182 in the main cabin. Introductory fares are as low as $199 each way at primeraair.com.

A new seasonal route previously announced from Dulles to Edinburgh, Scotland, on United Airlines will begin daily service on May 23 using Boeing 757 aircraft.

Dulles is the region’s premier international airport – serving 57 nonstop destinations outside the U.S. on 33 different airlines. In 2017, the airport handled more than 7.8 million passengers – a new record.

Feb
26

Continuity and Contingency Planning for Your Business

You are working on a major proposal for your firm, an opportunity to possibly make or break the budget for the next fiscal year.  It is due by close of business tomorrow.  You’ll need every minute to make this a winner.

In the frantic scramble to put the pieces of the proposal puzzle together, you overhear some of your co-workers discussing the weather.  You finally ask “What’s up?”  A co-worker responds, “What the weathermen predicted to be a passing snowstorm a day or so ago, is now being deemed – A BLIZZARD!”  “What?” you ask.  “Yup, upwards of 18 to 20 inches coming in tonight, paralyzing the region’s road and transit networks,” the co-worker says.  A sinking feeling sets in and you realize that it looks like you’re sleeping in the office the next day or so.

But it doesn’t have to be that way if you and your company have a continuity of operations plan in place.  Such plans are developed to preserve business operations during natural or man-made events that may prevent workers from getting into the office for a day or more.

Surprisingly few businesses have examined such plans or adopted policies for implementing contingency/continuity plans…even when the prospect of short or long term shutdowns or slowdowns can mean significant lost revenue and productivity.

DATA staff can assist you and your business in developing contingency plans, and have been doing so since the major disruptions that occurred during 9/11 and the subsequent sniper episode.  Rising tensions with North Korea don’t help either, but interest has waned considerably since these previous events – until the next Snowmaggedon arrives or a surprise shutdown of Metro occurs again.  Without adequate preparation and contingency planning, many businesses struggled to get employees to work and thus lost important productivity.

Although contingency/continuity plans are individualized for each particular business, most of these plans include some core elements.

Telework

Having employees who can work from home in the event of a natural or man-made emergency (like the recent Metro shutdown) is like your company’s electronic insurance policy.  No way to get to work…no problem!  Your employees can still fill orders, complete important projects (like our snowbound friend above) and even teleconference.  In addition, Global Workplace Analytics reports industry leaders like Dow Chemical, Best Buy and British Telecom find their teleworkers are 35-40% more productive, while a Stanford University study found teleworkers are 50% less likely to quit than employees who work strictly in the office.  Consider that statistic when it can cost you $10,000-$30,000 to replace a valuable employee!

And most teleworkers still spend more than 50% of their time in the office, so concerns about supervision, collaboration and team-building are unfounded.  Right now, the Telework!VA program offers free technical assistance to companies interested in starting or expanding a formal telework program…including helping you decide which jobs are suitable for teleworking, what kind of equipment and security you need, how to supervise your teleworkers and more.  There’s additional information on the many benefits of teleworking
at www.teleworkva.org.

 

Transit Information

With the opening of the Silver Line, many locations that were unserved by public transportation are now connected to the system.  Now you can take Metro from your home in Largo to your office in Tysons Corner.  But your employees may not realize how easy and economical it can be to leave their single occupant vehicle in the driveway and take transit to work.  Fairfax County now offers the Plu$50 Program through which your employees can qualify for a $50 SmarTrip card to try transit if you institute the simple-to-administer SmartBenefits program.  And even though a major weather event can curtail transit service, it’s usually more reliable than trying to drive alone.

Ridesharing

When your employees share a ride to work – either in a cost-effective vanpool or a convenient carpool – you’re doing a lot more than helping reduce congestion on area roads and improve the environment.  With shared driving responsibilities, you’ll probably find your employees are late less often and arrive in a better frame of mind from not having to battle traffic each and every day.  In addition, you may be able to turn in some of those expensive parking spaces you’ve been leasing from the business next door or reduce the cost of the valet parking you currently provide!

And if one of the carpoolers has a four-wheel drive vehicle, ridesharing can become a pre-existing means of getting essential employees to work in an emergency.

Biking or Walking

Dust off your old two-wheeler or investigate Capital Bikeshare; biking to work is easier than you think! Reston alone boasts over 15 Bikeshare docking stations, strategically placed at many employment locations.

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association provides classes, seminars and events at a reasonable cost for cyclists of every skill and commitment level.  County websites can help you plan a safe route to work or to a transit terminus.  And with affordable and convenient Capital Bikeshare, you don’t even have to own a bike to take advantage of this efficient, environmentally conscious commuting option.

Or try hoofing it.  Walking a few days a week could replace the expensive gym membership you’re not using.  Think a mile walk to the nearest Metro stop is too time-consuming?  It can add as little as 15 minutes in beautiful spring weather to
your commute!

Technology

Consider CarFreeAtoZ, Moovit, Uber and Lyft, Commuter Connections CarpoolNow, and other alternatives.

How can DATA help keep you in business?  Making your sure your employees are aware and familiar with these types of technologies can keep your business going, particularly in short term interruptions of transportation services.  DATA staff can provide insights on all of these services and conduct training, if necessary, on how to use the applications and technologies.

DATA’s experts will work with you to develop a continuity of business plan that suits your organization and your workforce.  There’s no charge for the consultation and no obligation.  We’ll probably start with a simple survey that tells us how your employees are currently commuting.  We’ll spend some time learning about your business…are you interested in green initiatives, do you like to conduct contests to motivate your employees, are your employees tech-savvy or more likely to respond to the traditional approaches?

Then we’ll suggest the best way for you to keep doing business when you can’t conduct business as usual.  Call DATA at 703.817.1307 and get connected to Kelly Woodward or Sarah McGowan.  We even have bi-lingual assistance available!

Think you don’t have time to talk to us?  Well, what would you rather lose?  A few minutes or a few thousand dollars?