Connecting With Local Foods in Caldwell County
Last week, I talked about some of the benefits of eating local. This week, I want to discuss how to support local foods in Caldwell County.
As the local foods movement has developed, the number and popularity of farmers markets has grown significantly. In North Carolina, the number of farmers markets has increased 400% in the last 20 years. North Carolina has even designated a farmers market week.
These markets are a great way to connect with local farmers and learn about how their produce is grown and their products are made. If you regularly attend one of the three farmers markets in the county, then you know that they are social meeting places and provide a sense of community.
Roadside stands are a great alternative to farmers markets. Most have set hours and are open several days a week. Shopping at these stands also allow you to develop a relationship with the person growing your food. Many are located on farms, so you can see the tomatoes, melons, and corn growing.
Another great way to get to know a farmer and support them is to join a CSA. (CSA stands for community supported agriculture.) Members of a CSA pay a fee at the beginning of the year, which gives the farmer some cash upfront to buy seeds and other supplies they need to plant. In return, members receive a share of the farm’s harvest each week.
CSAs are a great way to explore local foods. Since you may receive some things in your share that you wouldn’t normally purchase, you try new things and learn new ways of preparing food.
If you want to learn more about what farms are in your area, visit the Local Harvest web site at localharvest.org. Their online directory allows you to search by county or by crop.
Another online resource for finding local farms is the North Carolina General Store (http://www.ncagr.gov/NCproducts/), a web directory operated by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
Of course, you can always raise your own food. From eggs to asparagus and squash to honey, you can eat really local – right from your backyard.
If you have questions about gardening or connecting to local foods in your community, contact the Caldwell County Extension Service at 828.757.1290 or visit caldwell.ces.ncsu.edu.