Cheese with fennel seeds, from Caromont Farm outside Charlottesville, Virginia, sold by Arganica
Let’s face it: Sometimes, making it out of the house to catch the weekend farmers’ market does not happen. You are committed to the local food cause, but you are also a slave to the weekend paper and a warm pot of coffee. Life would be so much easier if those ruby-red late-summer tomatoes and creamy Virginia farm cheese could be dropped off on your doorstep.
A handful of delivery services hitting the city streets are here to reconcile these two desires. An answer to the urban-dwelling locavore’s prayers, these companies round up the artisanal, the small batch, the locally harvested and the responsibly raised and bring it all straight to the consumer.
Leading the charge is Arganica Farm Club(8287A #110 Seminole Trail, Ruckersville, VA, 434-979-0480), which is billed as a locally sourced food club. Members have an enormous array of products from the mid-Atlantic region to choose from for their weekly crate deliveries—red beets, duck eggs, spiced peach chutney or whole rockfish pulled from Virginia waters, to name but a few. “We’re trying to bring local foods more into the everyman world by giving you a whole bunch of choices,” says founder Dominique Kostelac, who left behind a career in real estate to launch Arganica with his brother Tom. “We are trying to make it as convenient as possible.”
Arganica was joined this summer by sister site St. Barboux(1425 S. Eads St., Arlington, 434- 466-7507), which specializes mainly in local wines, beers and spirits.
Another option for time-crunched Washingtonians is FieldtoCity(1818 Second St. NW, 202-588-5612). Owner Kim Wee had been hawking local meats, milk and produce from his Timor Bodega in the up-andcoming Bloomingdale neighborhood for several years when he decided to change the name and start a delivery service to reach more customers. The shop is still an obligatory visit for those seeking free-range eggs, but now customers can get same-day shipments ($75 minimum) of apple blossom honey from Toigo Orchards in Pennsylvania, bison steak from Virginia and baguettes from Uptown Bakers in Hyattsville, Maryland. “You’re really getting the benefit of several markets’ worth of stuff,” Wee says of his inventory.
For believers in the local-food gospel, a direct line to the region’s seasonal bounty is the holy grail. “It’s a different standard of food than what’s in big stores,” Wee says. “The color is more vibrant; the shapes aren’t uniform; the produce changes from week to week, and that’s very exciting.”
Also bringing freshly harvested goods to DC doorsteps are Washington’s Green Grocer(8741 Ashwood Dr., Unit O, Capitol Heights, MD, 301- 333-3696), a pioneer of the concept (it has been in business since 1994), and South Mountain Creamery(8305 Bolivar Road, Middletown, MD, 301-371-8565), which offers glass-bottled milk, pasture-raised beef and specialty foods like turkey pot pie and jalapeño and cheese hot dogs.
With their tailored approaches and a bountiful variety, these services have improved on the traditional farm CSA model (community-supported agriculture) in which members receive regular shipments of whatever comes out of the fields that week, thus avoiding the hassle of a crate filled with more zucchini than you and your 20 closest friends could ever eat. “It’s not structured around the weather like a farmers’ market,” Wee says. Nor your unwillingness to put down the Sunday paper.