Local CSA Wants to Open Store on East Capitol Street

Mark Lilly wants to open his Farm to Family farmer's market and CSA in the empty Morton's Pharmacy building

Owner of Farm to Family CSA Mark Lilly and his CSA member Lauren Andresky pick her produce at his farmer's market in front of Morton's Pharmacy on Nov. 11. (Christine Rushton|Hill Rag)

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Farm to Family Community Supported Agriculture’s (CSA) local market fills the sidewalk in front of the former Morton’s Pharmacy at the corner of 8th St. and East Capitol St. NE. Owner and distributor Mark Lilly started the weekly full service CSA and outdoor farmer’s market on Capitol Hill about five years ago and now wants to rent the Morton’s Pharmacy building.

Morton's closed in June after the owners posted a sign on the door alerting customers that their prescriptions would be transfered to other pharmacies. 

He hopes to open a brick-and-mortar distribution site and local market for his customers. It could include a wood fire pizza oven outside, gourmet delivery meals, a space for local businesses to sell their products, and access to fresh produce.

But he needs support from the local residents. He’s currently putting together a board of advisors and searching for local investors.  

“I’m trying to grow the CSA,” Lilly said. “I turn away business all the time because I don’t have the capacity.”

Lilly averages about 300 CSA members in the summer and 150 in the winter. He sources from about 10 meat, six produce and four dairy farmers within a 200-mile radius of his home operation in Richmond, Va. A full service — meat, dairy, produce, and bread — weekly member cost is $118 with an $80 season member fee.

Lilly trucks the products to DC usually twice a week on Tuesdays at Eastern Market and Wednesdays at Patriot’s Plaza Farmer’s Market. The Morton’s Pharmacy location is a temporary space due to construction at Eastern Market.

A military veteran and entrepreneur, Lilly sees the healthy choices he helps families make and knows his contribution gives back to the foundation of the country — its people. 

“You can make the most positive changes by joining a CSA,” Lilly said. “It engages people. They cook more, they share, they look at things differently.”

Lauren Andresky, a Ward Six resident and CSA member, said she and her family joined in July. For her, knowing where her food is grown is a priority.

“I’m always surprised at the variety of produce,” she said. “And it’s right here.”

If you’re interested in helping Mark Lilly with his efforts to open a market on Capitol Hill, you can contact him phone at 804-397-7337 or email mark@thefarmbus.com.

Farm to Family CSA and market in front of Morton's Pharmacy on the 700 block of East Capitol St. NE.