Week One: Prepare and Commit!

This week we’ll be spending time on two main things:

  1. Figuring out where exactly you can get the local food that’s going to sustain you these next four to six weeks (or longer if you so choose..)
  2. Making a commitment to yourself and the earth to follow through!

Food Sources:

If you are unsure where to begin to source food locally, visit www.localharvest.org.  They have an extensive database of CSAs, farmer’s markets and other producers.  Just enter in your zip code and see what’s available to you!

Generally, your options will be a combination of the following:

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

A CSA is an alternative, locally based economic model of agriculture and food distribution. A CSA also refers to a particular network or association of individuals who have pledged to support one or more local farms, with growers and consumers sharing the risks and benefits of food production. CSA members, or subscribers, pay at the onset of the growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest; once harvesting begins, they periodically receive shares of produce. In addition to produce, some CSA services may include additional farm products like honey, eggs, dairy, fruit, flowers and meat. Some CSAs provide for contributions of labor in lieu of a portion of subscription costs.  Typically CSA members receive a box of seasonal veggies, fruits and other locally made items anywhere from once a week to once a month (depending on the season and farm structure).  Some models run all year long, while others are more seasonal. Usually members do need to sign up in the spring for the following growing season, so if you aren’t already a member of one, it might be too late this year, but put it on your list for next!

Locally Owned Markets/Shops/Groceries (and even the occasional larger stores): 

Not every community has a store that stocks local produce, but be sure to check if yours does!  Read labels and make decisions based on more than price alone if you have the means to do so.  One of my favorites in my community in the St. Croix River Valley is Fine Acres Market as they are committed to carrying locally grown or made items, along with plenty of organics.  Look into the co-ops in your area or inquire at the grocery store to see if they source any goods locally.  Ask questions!  Sometimes stores will even start purchasing more locally if more people ask for those sorts of goods.

Farmer’s Market:

You are probably familiar with a farmer’s market, as they’ve been gaining popularity and numbers rapidly over the last 8-10 years.  Many communities have at least one, and larger cities tend to have several, including one very large central market.  It’s a place where local farmers can rent a space, set up their goods and sell directly to the local community.  Farmer’s markets are great places to meet your local farmers and other people in your community who are trying to eat more mindfully.

Farm Stands

You’ve probably seen those signs that say “Fresh Eggs!” Or “Garden produce” or “Sweet Corn” gracing the side of the road at some point over the years.  These are actually viable options when it comes to getting your food locally!  If you’ve never stopped at one of those signs, do it.  There are usually kind hearted people and great food at the end of the driveway.  Or at least a cooler, a jar for money, and some tasty eggs.

U-Pick

U-Pick farms are another great option, especially when it comes time to do some food preserving.  You can load up at a local strawberry farm or orchard and then take your abundance home and freeze, can and dry to your hearts content.  You’ll have plenty to eat fresh and plenty to enjoy later in the season or even when the snow flies.

Your own garden

This may seem obvious, but one of the best places to get food locally is in your own yard! Did you know how much one backyard garden can produce?  A lot!  With a little preplanning, you can provide your family with bushels of fresh food for at least a few months out of the year, and and longer if you take the extra time and effort to preserve the extras.  Of course, many city dwellers simply do not have a yard, or a good spot to grow food, but even a few herbs in a pot or a plot in the community garden can be a great supplement to your primary food sources.

This challenge will not get into the ins and outs of how to grow a garden but we encourage you to explore this as an option if you haven’t before and have the space.  For some great tips on gardening visit Organic Life

Resources for sourcing locally:

USA:

http://www.eatwellguide.org/

www.localharvest.org

USDA Farmer’s Market Search

National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service: Local Food Directories

Natural Food Co-op Directory

Canada:

British Columbia: http://www.bcfarmersmarket.org/

Alberta: http://www.albertamarkets.com/

Manitoba: http://www.manitobafarmersmarkets.ca/

Saskatchewan: http://www.saskfarmersmarket.com/

Ontario: http://www.farmersmarketsontario.com/

Quebec: http://www.bonjourquebec.com/qc-en/tourist-services-directory/public-market/

Nova Scotia: http://www.farmersmarketsnovascotia.ca/

Pocket Markets Southern Vancouver Island: http://www.foodroots.ca/

What else would you add to this list?  Feel free to leave comments in the Facebook Group!