The New CSA: Community Supported Medicine

In NoVA, CSAs mean more than just fruits and vegetables.

Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative's Harvest Tea Blend / Photo Courtesy of Michael Donaghy

By Evan Milberg

“Food is medicine and medicine is food,” says Casey Spacht, the co-founder of Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative (LFFC), a network of 85 different farms, selling herbs, tonics and syrups throughout the East Coast. One of the farms in the cooperative is Spacht and Elisabeth Weaver‘s Lancaster Farmacy in Pennsylvania. 

If an apple a day keeps a doctor away, then Spacht and Weaver are looking to keep you out of the doctor’s office with their collection of herbs and medicines. Lancaster Farmacy offers a unique form of community supported farming: shared medicine, also known as community-supported medicine, or CSM. The idea was inspired by Weaver’s work at Goldthread Herb Farm in Massachusetts where Weaver learned about CSM and applied it to her farm with Spacht.  

“I’m being trained as an herbalist,” says Spacht, who will take the “CSA model and do something a little different.” Traditional community supported agriculture (CSA) is when a consumer pre-pays a farm to deliver goods for a determined time period. This upfront payment provides farms an influx of cash at the beginning of the season to plan their resources.

Weaver and Spacht said they took on CSM because they wanted to educate the public on how to improve their health through better nutrition. “I think we felt it was the best way to do community education,” Weaver says. “We felt like the CSM was a great way to do more general public education for people who want to take care of themselves in a seasonal, natural way and how to do that affordably with things in season.”

It is also their way of encouraging herbalists to support local farms. “So many herbalists will purchase things in bulk from all over the world. Casey and I are committed to creating a more local infrastructure,” Weaver says. “We thought ‘let’s supply the small manufacturers of herbal products in our region.’”

Products are made at Lancaster’s drying room at the Lancaster Farmacy through a process called garbling, which removes leaves and stems from the herbs and plants. They make dried tea blends such as peppermint tea and chamomile.  “We do bath salts and  all types of things,” says Spacht. “Some glycerites and some tonics. We do fresh herbs too like echinacea and we’ll show you how to prepare it. We like empowering people to do it themselves.”

Lancaster Farmacy’s CSM share is a monthly delivery of 3-5 hand-crafted herbal products, fresh and dried herbs, recipes and a newsletter with information about how to use them. Items will vary with the season and include detoxifying and digestive support tonics, healing skin salves, fresh and dried beneficial tea blends, bath salts and tinctures. 

Sign up by May 4CSA Season: mid-May-October

Great Harvest Bread Company 
6030 Burke Commons Road, Suite G, Burke 
9000 Lorton Station Blvd., Suite S, Lorton

Salud The Healthy Pantry
1137 Walker Road, Great Falls

MOM’s Organic Market 
424 Elden St., Herndon
8298 Glass Alley, Fairfax

Lancaster Farmacy CSM
Dandelion and Burdock Root Spring Cleansing Tonic
Fresh Nettles for tea and/or cooking
Chickweed All Purpose Healing Skin Salve
Harvest Tea Blend

Fresh Lemon Balm
Holy Basil Balancing Tincture
Herbal Bugz Off Insect Repellant
Lavender and Chamomile Calming Tea Blend
Rose Geranium and Calendula Mineral Bath Salts
Echinacea Glycerite
Elderberry Immune Support Syrup
Fresh ginger and garlic
Ashwagandha Restorative Muscle Oil