You can also put commitment into action by eating local. Here are four ideas for how to do just that:
- Visit farmers’ markets regularly. Many accept payment coupons available through programs that help people with limited incomes.
- Ask your supermarket manager to stock local produce.
- Start your own garden.
- Buy a share of a farm’s produce through community-supported agriculture – CSA for short. Sign-ups often happen in the winter and spring.
Find farmers’ markets
Connecticut has dozens of farmers’ markets from spring through fall. They’re another way to support local farms. Here are some resources to get you started:
- Local Harvest – Find local food, anywhere in the country.
- Local Farmers’ Markets – Find a real farmers’ market, roadside stand, or farm stand near you!
- The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut – Find a crop or farm share in Connecticut.
- Connecticut Department of Agriculture – Lists CSAs, farmers’ markets, agricultural fairs and more.
There’s help for people with limited incomes
Many farmers’ markets participate in the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) and the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP). Check with your local WIC agency or elder services organizations and senior centers to see if you qualify for a check booklet.
Talk to your supermarket’s manager
Many Connecticut supermarkets support local farms by stocking their produce. If your supermarket doesn’t, talk to the manager. It may be that no one has expressed interest before. Then, support the market’s effort by picking up food from the displays marked as local.
Want to eat local by growing your own?
Not everyone’s born with a green thumb. Fortunately, there are local organizations that sponsor gardening classes.
- Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut – Lists many events, including how-to classes, and has links to local garden clubs, who may publish their own calendars of events
- 4-H Clubs of Connecticut – Look for a local club where children and teenagers can learn about agriculture.
You can also find resources online with tips on how to start your own garden.
Don’t have room for a garden? Look for community gardens near you to join forces with friends and neighbors. Or start small, with a few plants in pots on a stoop or deck. Find out how good something you grew can taste!
Community-supported agriculture – it is what it’s called
Typically, CSAs operate like this: you agree to pay a farm a fixed amount for a season. In return, you get a share, usually weekly, of in-season produce. Many farms will tell you what types of fruits and vegetables they’re growing so you get an idea of what you may get and even share recipes for how to prepare them.
CSAs come with some risks, though: bad weather that harms crops may mean your shares aren’t as large as you expect. And, some of the crops may not be ones you like or know how to prepare (kale was one of those once). Are you open to trying new foods?
Risks aside, CSAs support local farmers and encourage sustainable agriculture. That’s good for everyone.