Thursday, August 19, 2010

Our little town will make it if more people shop locally!

Today at the Farmer's market, I was relieved. For quite some time, I have been worried about the long-term survival of our small town. We are a little town of about 5,000 people. That census figure counts the 1500+ college students that just started showing up for the fall semester over the past couple of weeks.

I live uptown on main street and there is a very different atmosphere in our little town when the students leave. The locals come out more often but I know the chamber of commerce and local development agency are worried about the drop off in sales for our local merchants. The loss of sales tax revenue has impacted the state, county and local governments and they are cutting across the board.

Today when I got to the Farmer's market a little earlier than my normal time, I was happily shopping when a crowd of Chinese foreign exchange students showed up. There were at least 20 of them and the first thing I noticed was how closely together they all stood. They crowded together in front of the organic vegetable and meat stand and the owner quickly approached me.

He asked me if I wanted some of his produce as he knew they would clean him out. I had already gone over my $10 budget and was ready to go so I told him I was looking for some meat. My normal meat farmer wasn't there so I didn't pick up any pork or beef. I couldn't afford this farmer's wonderful looking grass fed beef, but am thinking I may splurge next time. I know I could cut it up into smaller portions. I seem to recall that my meat portions should only be the size of a deck of playing cards.

This is the first year that the Farmer's market is in this location and I am hopeful it will remain there. They are also open now until 6pm and that is helpful for people like me who are still working.

For many years the Farmer's market was only open from 11-2 and I could never get there. If I did, I usually showed up on the wrong day. More and more people are talking about this and as they also work, they are able to get there now.

Some of the Items I purchased today were:

3 small yellow summer squash .75
4 pounds of red potatoes 2.00
1 red onion .50
2 pounds of green beans 3.00
4 pounds of roma tomatoes 2.50
12 ears of sweet corn 3.50
1 pound of cherry tomatoes 1.50

With the college students returning and the college promoting locally grown foods, the Farmer's market will do well this year. I will have fresh produce, save some money and stock up for the winter.

I do have to buy another box of peaches to freeze, but so far I have dehydrated or frozen:
20 pounds of blueberries
15 pounds of peaches
4 pounds of green beans
1 pound of peas
8 green bell peppers
4 red bell peppers
12 jalapenos
8 pounds of carrots

My pantry is getting fuller and fuller and I am prepared for whatever the winter brings. If my hours are cut, and changes are 50/50 they may be, I will be okay. I do know that my little town has a lot of people like me who are also putting things up for the winter. Canning jars are in short supply and the local grocery store can't keep gallon jugs of vinegar on the shelf. The farmers market was doing a brisk business when I left and it was early yet. I know we will make it through.

Eat Where You Live: How to Find and Enjoy Fantastic Local and Sustainable Food No Matter Where You Live

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