Ok. After reading my last blog
, you understand some of the reasoning behind eating local and supporting your community of growers and producers
. And hopefully you're with us now. Hopefully you were with us before that, but regardless, you've now boarded the Eat-Local-Mobile and you're ready to roll. In fact, you find yourself behind the wheel. So.....uh.....where to? How do you get to where you need to go?
Here are a few strategies and resources that can help you on your way toward making eating local
a way of life. Hopefully, before you know it you'll be cruising toward a future of sustainable food
and a healthy local food economy.
1. FIND YOUR CLOSEST FARMERS MARKETS
This is the local eater's bread and butter. It's a sustainable gathering place where consumers and farmers can meet, connect, and share information and support. It's a place to purchase food direct from the source, with minimal time and distance from the pitchfork to your plate
. Check out these cool online resources that can help you find and learn about all the farmers markets near you.
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service
Oregon Farmers Market Association
Oregon Department of Agriculture
For Rogue Valley Folk:
Grants Pass Growers Market
Eagle Point Saturday Market
Selma Farmers Market
Hillcrest Growers and Craft Market
Rogue River Sunday Market
Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Markets
- Ashland Tuesday, Medford Thursday, Ashland Saturday
Talent Evening Market
2. CONSIDER SIGNING UP FOR A C.S.A.
CSA = Community Supported Agriculture, also known as a farm share. In a CSA Program, the consumer purchases a "share/membership/subscription" in a farm, and in return they receive a box of seasonal vegetables each week. There are benefits for both farmers and consumers. Ask your favorite farmer at the farmer's market if they offer a CSA!
Advantages for farmers: (from localharvest.org
* Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin.
* Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm's cash flow.
* Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow.
Advantages for consumers: (from localharvest.org
* Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits.
* Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking.
* Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season.
* Find that kids typically favor food from "their" farm – even veggies they've never been known to eat.
* Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown.
3. SHOP AT A FOOD CO-OP OR NATURAL FOODS STORE
Food Co-ops are community-owned grocery stores that are committed to consumer education, product quality, and member control. Food Co-ops
have been known as leaders in providing the community with high-quality organic, local, and sustainably produced products. Food Co-ops also take pride in building relationships with local growers, and do their part to support local communities by selling produce grown locally on family farms
Learn more about Food Co-ops
Check out Ashland Food Co-op
Medford Food Co-op Coming Soon
4. SECURE A PLOT IN A COMMUNITY GARDEN
Growing your own food is as local as it gets. This is also a great way to ensure that eating local is a fun and educational experience. Here are some community gardens in the Rogue Valley.
GardenPhoenix - Blue Heron Community Garden - 482-5293
Ashland - Ashland Community Garden - 488-6606
Ashland - Earthtribe Community Garden (Ecology Center of the Siskiyous) @ Southern Oregon University - 552-8512
Talent - Great Green Garden @ Talent Elementary - 535-9055
5. BUY DIRECT FROM A FARM STAND
Many local farms sell their own produce from a farm stand. Similar to visiting a farmers market, this is a great way to interact face-to-face with those that grow your food. Farm stands, however, bring you that one step closer to where your food is grown. And the drive out to many farm stands takes you through some beautiful country. So make it an experience: pack a picnic basket and a bottle of local wine
and head out to a farm stand near you.
Oregon Department of Agriculture Farm Stand Listing by County
Oregon Farm Bureau Farm Stand Guide
Well alright! These resources should get you started on the road to local, sustainable eating.
Over the next few weeks, I will be traveling out to local farms, wineries and fisheries. Here is a list of some of the places I'll be going. Follow the blog
, let me know what you think, and show these amazing folks a little support.
Barking Moon Farm
Rogue Valley Brambles
Rolling Hills Farm
Blue Fox Farm
Port Orford Sustainable Fishery