Spring into a Local Footprint
By Melissa Nelson
Late winter chills aside, spring is here, and our thoughts turn to outside activities, grilling on the patio, and entertaining. For many of us spring also signals renewal of our local farmers’ markets and opportunities to buy fresh local produce and goods through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms locally. Pennsylvania is home to more than 53,000 farm businesses which either sell directly to consumers, or provide home-grown goods to local stores.
By keeping our “ecological footprint” small and supporting local businesses, we are doing what a Michigan State University study defines as, “By buying local, you help create jobs for your friends and neighbors, contribute to improved public infrastructure, and invest in your community both socially and economically.”
Area-wise we are fortunate to have many farms which sell directly to consumers and in turn support the local economy. Even a century ago, the Cumberland Valley was known as the “breadbasket” of the region supporting villages and towns, businesses, and residents.
When studying the effects of direct marketing, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found, “Direct marketing was also associated with higher survival rates among beginning farmers. On average, beginning farmers who marketed directly to consumers had a 54.3-percent survival rate, compared to 47.4 percent for those who marketed their goods through traditional channels.”
The study also showed, “The economic benefits of farmers’ markets may also extend beyond multiplier effects, which measure short-term impacts. Lev et al. (2003), for example, found that businesses near farmers’ markets reported higher sales on market days. Not only were these additional sales found to directly support the businesses themselves, but they also generated extra tax revenue for the communities in which the markets were located. Brown (2002) found some evidence that farmers’ markets increase property values in the market district.” “Additionally, farmers’ markets can function as business incubators by providing the infrastructure necessary to build skills and gain business experience (Feenstra et al., 2003; Gillespie et al., 2007).”
While we look forward to picking the first juicy strawberries of the season, eating delicious ice cream and planning for summer’s bounty of fresh sweet corn, remember that buying locally not only supports local farm businesses and our neighbor families, but contributes to our local economy while promoting entrepreneurship in the region.
Our Local Favorites
Frantz Produce - Frantz Produce | Facebook
North Square Famers Market North Square Farmers Market - Home
Adams County Farmers Market Adams County Farmers Markets (acfarmersmarkets.org)
Phoenix Hill NuLu Farmer’s Market – open Tuesday, offers fruits, vegetables, baked goods and meats. The market also features live music and local fare from a selection of food trucks.
Bardstown Farmers Market – open Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, hosted by the University of Kentucky’s College of Food, Agriculture and Environment and offers fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, herbs, jellies and plants.
East End Farmer’s Market – open Tuesdays and Saturdays, held at Grace Evangelical Free Church. Full of good food and Amazing local venders.