Just two years ago I discovered a little gem in my hometown. It is a local farm that grows organic vegetables, fruits and eggs. I live in a suburb of Orlando and had never expected to find a farm less than five miles from my house. I became a member after my first visit and it has been one of the best choices I have made for both my health and my overall happiness. Here are four ways my local farm makes me healthy and happy, and how your local farm will do the same for you.
THE HEALTHY AND DELICIOUS PRODUCE
Many local farms, even if they haven’t gone through the process of becoming certified organic, use organic growing practices. They avoid genetically modified crops, as well non-organic methods of fertilization and pest control. My local farm is not certified, but I know exactly how everything is grown. I know the farmers personally; I have seen how they start seedlings in their greenhouse, and how they struggle to keep all the vegetables healthy and vibrant even through the relentless Florida summers.
I don’t need to tell you how much better a tomato tastes when it has been on the vine until it reaches the perfect level of ripeness. The same is true for peppers. You can imagine how there is nothing quite like the crispness and freshness of a just-harvested head of lettuce or basket of green beans. And the eggs from the free-range chickens are healthier and more delicious because of their natural diet.
SAVING MONEY ON ORGANIC PRODUCE
By avoiding middlemen and buying directly from the farmer, you can enjoy some cost savings. I have found that almost everything that I buy at my local farm is cheaper by the pound than the equivalent organic offerings at my local store.
Another cost benefit from shopping at the farm is that I can buy as little of a product as I want, avoiding any loss from wastage. I have found this to be a great way to get introduced to a new item that I haven’t tried before. For example, if I want to try French breakfast radishes for the first time, I can purchased just two or three instead of the whole bunch that is sold at the store.
GETTING TO PICK YOUR PRODUCE WITH YOUR OWN HANDS
I know this won’t be true at every farm, but one of the best parts of visiting my local farm is that I get to pick my own fruits and vegetables. Even when it’s hot and humid, and I get mud and dust all over my shoes, I think it is one of the most satisfying ways to commune with nature. There is no feeling quite like pulling a handful of carrots out of the ground and not knowing exactly what you are going to get. Sometimes you get runts; other times they are curly and funny-shaped. But every single time it’s a surprise and they always taste delicious no matter what they look like.
CONTRIBUTING TO YOUR COMMUNITY
By supporting your local farm you are also supporting your community. These little farms are typically family owned and operated, just like many other small businesses. Sometimes the larger ones also have a handful of employees.
Your farm is not just providing healthy and affordable food to the families in your neighborhood. It is also providing tax dollars to your town, employment to your neighbors, education to local children, and even a boost to the environment because of their careful preservation of the soil. They also provide a way for you to meet other like-minded people who share similar values and support similar causes to yours.
Every time I plan trip to my local farm, I get in a better mood. And every time when I get back home with my bounty, I feel happy as I carefully clean and store each item, all the while planning how and when I will use each one.
I encourage you to seek out the farms in your own community and become a supporter. You will be rewarded in many ways that you may not have even expected.