Can small farms fill the gap? What gap? The gap between getting fresh local food and the grocery store. Yes, it’s a real thing. I feel pretty certain that YES, small farms can and WILL fill the gap.
We all want good, healthy food. The option to feed our families the best we can get our hands on. Where does that come from? Right now, our food is being shipped literally from all over the world. With some not-so-strict regulations to our local grocery stores.
But, what about local food? What about food from our backyards (so to speak)? How can we get our hands on that and in our stores?
Local grocery stores play a fundamental role in not only getting real food options in front of the people who want them, but in strengthening their neighborhood food communities. ~ Square Roots
The big challenge here is how do small farms bridge the grocery store gap. We (as farmers and consumers) have to start with our own small, hometown grocery stores. These stores are the ones that originally built your community, you know way back before the Wal-marts, Costco’s, Sam’s Clubs and Targets. These are the stores that at one time knew the farmers that were bringing in food – let’s get back to that. As consumers, we need to be asking where our foods come from. As farmers, we need to be asking how would you like for us to package it for you. (Of course there are some state and federal regulations – look those up for your state).
We’re seeing our local communities take a step back and think about where our food comes from. There’s a well known movement to go back to local food and small farmers.
localvore – is a person interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market. One common – but not universal – definition of “local” food is food grown within 100 miles (160 km) of its point of purchase or consumption.
Small Farms ARE Filling the Gap
For a number of years, there was a steady decline in the number of farmers markets and farm stands across the United States. We are now seeing that back on the rise with the local food movement. How can you help? If there is a market, visit it, shop there, support your farmers. If there isn’t a market, go to your city office and see what can be done to start one. Find out if there is a market in a nearby city. The more we as consumers shop at local markets, the more we shop less at “big box” stores – which means neighborhood grocery stores would be more willing to bring in local foods. This is a case of one hand washes the other.
Another way small farms are filling the gap for local food is local restaurants.
Local people want local food! Well, there’s an eye opener! Quality (I stress the word quality there) restaurants want quality food. They want to know how it’s grown, when it’s in season and they want to be able to tell a story. A story of a farmer, a story of the vegetable, a story of how it was prepared and they want to share your story of how you enjoyed it.
What do we mean by small farms?
That seems almost like a contradiction in terms. Small farms are farms that are typically less than 50 acres (USDA report). The small farms that we personally interact with are less than 5 acres. These farms feed tens of thousands of people each year! We, as a small farm, plant intensively and are constantly replanting when a particular crop is finished. We are utilizing every inch of space possible and use season extensions (low tunnels, high tunnels, greenhouse etc.) to get the maximum amount of crop production out there – for you.
People like Eliot Coleman, JM Fortier, Curtis Stone, Conor Crickmore, Ben Hartman have paved the way for small farms. They have shown us and taught us how to be successful in a high production, small scale farming. These men are the pioneers for the future of feeding the world (by starting in our own “backyards”).
Support a local food movement
Find your local farmers! Look for them at your markets. If your local farm offers a subscription program or a CSA – get in on that. Our farm does have a farm subscription program available, we are delighted to be able to offer it this year. Support your local farmers, because farmers put food on your table.
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