Posts By Marianne Peters
Farming has gone high-tech. With the convergence of science and technology, as well as no-till methods and increasing concerns about soil composition and fertilizer use, growers can now access information and tools unheard of twenty-five years ago.
Robert Yoder, Purdue Extension Educator based in Marshall County, Indiana, believes that farm innovation is leading to better environmental stewardship as well. “Farmers themselves are better educated about environmental issues,” he says, “and new technology is enabling better soil management practices.” With over 30 years as an Extension agent working in the areas of agriculture and natural resources, Yoder has seen a great deal of change in his career span, and he notes at least five innovations in farming equipment that did not exist before 1990 in common use now.
One of the pleasures of late summer is a trip to a farmers’ market, when the fresh produce is in abundance. No pale-faced supermarket tomatoes here: vendor stalls overflow with the fruits of their labor, and there’s not a shrink-wrapped zucchini in sight. While a plethora of new farmers’ markets have been established in many communities in response to the growing demand for local food, but they are hardly a new concept.
Here are five markets still thriving, even hundreds of years after their founding.
The term “locavore” has been used to describe people as diverse as former hippies living off the land as well as foodies perusing farmers’ markets for organic produce. The notion of local food and its place in the United States’ economy is evolving, however. For a longer perspective on the local food movement, here are seven books–both classic and more recent–about the importance of nurturing native food sources for our own health and the health of our nation’s food supply.
1. Stalking the Wild Asparagus (1962) by Euell Gibbons.
What could be more local than walking along the fencerow in your backyard, picking a handful of wild plants for your salad? Euell Gibbons was one of the first authors to write about foraging for wild edibles.
Bring up “roots” in Memphis, and you could be referring to the blend of bluegrass and gospel music for which the region is famous. In this case, however, Roots Memphis is an urban farm incubator located literally just around the corner from Graceland, Elvis Presley’s stately former residence. The Roots operation is dedicated to sustainable agricultural practices, and now includes three farms (one at the original site, two at other locations nearby), an agricultural training program for young farmers, and a for-profit CSA open to the community.
Mary Phillips is co-director, along with Wes Riddle. A former resident of Memphis, she returned in 2008 for a short time, not imagining that she would establish a home—much less a farm—in the city.
It’s getting easier to buy food grown in northeast Iowa, thanks to a regional food hub,.
For small to mid-sized farming operations, associating with a regional food hub can mean selling more crops, reaching more markets, and earning more money to reinvest in the farm. Associating with a food hub also means that more food can be distributed to markets nearby, a boon for the regional economy. Food hubs help farmers aggregate, market, and distribute their goods, jobs that growers may not have time or money to do themselves.