About two years ago I had a very pleasant surprise.
I discovered a small, independently-owned organic farm less than five miles from my home. I quickly became a member of the farm and have been a regular customer ever since. My local farm now rewards me in multiple and unexpected ways, including nutritionally, economically and emotionally.
Living in a suburb of a major metropolitan area, I hadn’t expected to have such easy and convenient access to locally-grown organic eggs, vegetables and fruits. Here are four main reasons why I continue to support my local farm, and why you might find and support your local farms as well.
#1: Access to healthy and delicious produce
This was my main reason for joining the farm in the first place. I wanted to have access to the freshest and healthiest vegetables and fruits that I could find. Because I live in Florida, the farm only grows produce that can thrive in our weather. Therefore I get year round access to vegetables, such as collards and kale which love the southern climate.
Most other vegetables are only available seasonally, these include tomatoes, peppers, beets, lettuce, carrots, and too many more to list. What you will have access to will vary depending on where you live and that is part of what is so exciting about having a local farm.
As a result, I have learned to appreciate the anticipation of waiting for fruits and vegetables to become ready at the peak of the season. I have also learned how much more delicious they taste when they are grown and picked at the perfect time of year.
My farm also raises egg-laying chickens. The chickens are free range and eat an extremely healthy and varied diet. As a result, they lay the most beautiful eggs I have ever seen, with deep orange yolks, that taste amazing.
As a result of supporting my local farm, I now have ready and convenient access to some of the most healthy and nutritious organic food around.
#2: Saving money on organic produce
It goes without saying that organically grown produce that has not been genetically modified is healthier for us. However, buying organic can be cost prohibitive in many cases.
Because I am buying directly from the farmer who is growing the produce, I save money by cutting out all the middlemen that are required to normally bring fruits and vegetables to a grocery store. I have found that practically everything that I buy at my local farm is less expensive than the equivalent product that is offered at my local market.
An additional cost saving comes from the fact that I can buy the exact amount that I need rather than the prepackaged quantities that are offered at the store, so nothing ever goes to waste. And because everything was just picked that day, it is so much fresher and lasts so much longer than the produce from the market, which also saves me money in the long run.
#3: Contributing to my community
When I support my local farm, I am also supporting my community. My farm is a family-owned small business. Although they don’t have any employees, they provide volunteering and educational opportunities to students from the local high school.
The farm is also contributing to the environment in my community. Because everything is grown using organic practices, the health of the soil is preserved and there is no chemical run-off that seeps into the ground water. The flowering plants also contribute to the preservation of the bees in our area.
A final way in which the farm contributes to the community is by providing a group of like-minded, health-conscious, and environmentally concerned individuals that get to connect in a meaningful way. I have met some of the most wonderful people in my community, from the farmers themselves to the other customers, by simply visiting the farm.
#4: Emotional Satisfaction
The most unexpected way in which I have benefited from supporting my local farm is from the emotional and spiritual pleasure that I get from every visit. Each time I plan a trip to the farm, I instantly get in a lighter mood. Once I arrive, I enjoy my chat with the farmer when I find out what is ready that day. As I browse through what is available, I start planning how I will use each item.
Every time when I get back home with my purchases, I feel happy and relaxed as I carefully wash and store all the items, looking forward to when I will get to eat them. The emotional satisfaction that I get from my local farm may have been an unexpected benefit, but it has become the one that I cherish the most.
Author: Daniela Naidu
Editor: Travis May
Images: Flickr/Take Back Your Health