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Sustainability Starts with Food: 5 Ways to Support Local Agriculture Today

Looking for ways to make a positive impact on the environment and your local economy? Consider these five ways to support local agriculture and connect with the people and land around you.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in supporting local agriculture as people become more aware of the benefits it can bring to their communities. According to the USDA, small farms (those with less than $350,000 in annual sales) make up 90% of all U.S. farms and produce 21% of the total value of agricultural products sold.

Despite this, small farms often struggle to compete with larger operations, leading to a decline in the number of farms and farmers.

Large farms can have negative environmental impacts for a few different reasons:

Local and sustainable agriculture is important for a number of reasons:

  • It is more cost-effective, as it reduces transportation costs, and leads to less carbon emissions.

  • It provides more resources to local communities.

  • Local agriculture often involves more sustainable and eco-friendly practices, such as reduced pesticide use and promotes the use of compost or other organic fertilizers.

  • It preserves open spaces, and provides fresher and more nutritious food.

In short, local and sustainable agriculture is an important step towards building a more resilient, equitable, and sustainable food system.

Here are 5 Simple Ways You Can Support Local and Sustainable Agriculture

  1. Buy from Local Farmers' Markets or Farm Stands: One of the simplest ways to support local agriculture is by buying fresh produce from local farmers' markets or farm stands. Not only does this help your local farmers to earn a living, but it also ensures that you are getting fresh, healthy food. By purchasing produce directly from farmers, you’ll know exactly where your food comes from and how it is grown. Be sure to ask questions about the food you're buying such as how it was grown, when it was harvested, and whether it is organic or sustainably grown. By engaging with farmers and learning more about their practices, you can make more informed decisions about the food you buy.

  2. Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program: A CSA program allows you to buy a share of a local farmer's crop in advance, and then receive a regular supply of fresh produce throughout the growing season. This provides farmers with a reliable source of income and helps to build a stronger local food system. By joining a CSA program, you can enjoy a steady supply of fresh, locally grown produce while supporting local agriculture. CSA programs vary from farm to farm, so it's important to do your research before joining one. Some CSAs offer pickup locations where you can collect your produce, while others may deliver directly to your home. Additionally, some CSAs may offer a wider variety of produce than others, so be sure to choose one that meets your needs and preferences. A 2020 survey conducted by the National Young Farmers Coalition found that 70% of young farmers sell their products directly to consumers through farmers' markets, CSAs, and other direct-to-consumer channels.

  3. Choose Organic and Sustainably Grown Produce: When shopping for groceries, choose organic and sustainably grown produce whenever possible. These products are grown without harmful pesticides and chemicals, and are often produced using sustainable farming practices that are better for the environment. By choosing organic and sustainably grown produce, you can support farmers who are committed to protecting the environment and promoting sustainable agriculture.If you're not sure whether a product is organic or sustainably grown, look for certification labels such as USDA Organic or Rainforest Alliance Certified. These labels indicate that the product has been produced using sustainable practices and has met certain environmental and social standards.

  4. Start a Garden: Starting your own garden is a great way to support local agriculture, even if you live in an urban area. You can grow your own produce and herbs, and even share your bounty with neighbors and friends. In addition to providing you with fresh, healthy food, gardening can also be a fun and rewarding hobby.When starting a garden, consider what you'd like to grow and how much space you have available. You can start small with a few herb plants or tomato vines, or go all out with a full-scale vegetable garden. No matter how big or small your garden, be sure to use sustainable gardening practices such as composting, mulching, and using natural pest control methods.

  5. Spread the Word: Finally, one of the simplest things you can do to support local and sustainable agriculture is to spread the word. Share information about local farmers' markets, CSA programs, and sustainable farming practices with your friends and family, and encourage them to join you in supporting the local food system.

Conclusion: Supporting local and sustainable agriculture

Supporting local and sustainable agriculture is essential for creating a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient food system. By choosing to buy from local farmers, joining CSA programs, choosing organic and sustainably grown produce, starting a garden, and spreading the word, we can all play a role in promoting local and sustainable agriculture.

By supporting local farmers, we can ensure that our food is fresher, healthier, and more environmentally friendly. Additionally, we can help to create jobs and income for farmers, which supports the local economy.

In doing so, we can help to build a more just and sustainable food system that benefits everyone.


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