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Yes, But From Who?
Often when at the grocery store, we wonder where the produce came from. What chemicals did they use to grow it, and how long has it been sitting in storage? All questions that make us double-think what we are putting into our bodies.
So what is the solution? Well, it is to buy direct from your local farmers. Not the large-scale industrial farms you might pass by rotating out corn and soybeans every year. Your farmers that you might not have known are out there. There can be small farms operating on only an acre or two, up to 10 acres and more.
The size isn't what matters when finding a farm to get your produce from, it's the quality and variety of produce. You want a farm that is growing produce for humans, not livestock. Finding a farm near you is not as hard as it might sound either. You might not find them in your local grocery store, or big chain supermarket, but they are likely closer than you might think.
Where to Find a Local Farm
There are many options nowadays online to find a local farm to buy produce from. A simple Google search for "local farms near me" will almost guarantee to get you some results, even without a large population nearby.
If you want to look somewhere that is designed for helping you find a farm, https://www.localharvest.org/ is the go-to for it. By putting in your location, they will show you farms in your area, and you can sift through the results to find the one that works for your needs.
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Another option to find them without scouring the internet and trying to narrow it down is your local farmers' market. Most large cities and some small towns have farmers' markets in the evenings and on weekends.
Farmers' markets are where multiple farmers, crafters, bakers, and butchers all gather to sell their goods. Think of it like a grocery store, but everything is local, and often you get to talk to those directly involved in bringing the product to you.
Have a question about the carrots you are thinking of buying? Being at the farmers' market means that you can ask them in person. No spending hours researching, trying to find your answer. If you like what you buy, you can return it the next week, or in many cases go to their farm directly to purchase.
Purchasing Directly From the Local Farmer
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Not all, but many local farmers will have a way to buy from them right at their farm. Whether it be through an online ordering system and picking it up, or a farm stand where they put out produce you can buy from.
Buying direct from the farmers means that you are supporting them, and their families directly. Not only can you trust the product was grown in season nearby, but you can meet the people who take great care of seeing it from seed to harvest.
When you spend money buying produce locally, the money goes to the farmers and helps them to continue doing what they love. They often hire local help, keeping the money in your community.
Many local farmers do it for the love of growing and not the profit that some large-scale farms may be after. They take care and effort in making sure their products are the best they can be.
What if you want to buy from your local farmer, but don't have the means or time to go to where they are? Well, the answer that many are starting to offer is home delivery. That's right, simply by going online, and seeing what is available for that week, you can have the freshly harvested produce delivered to your home.
No more trips to the grocery store for subpar products that may have been stored in warehouses for months before being placed on the shelves. Having it fresh means it stores longer at your home and tastes better.
Most farms that offer home delivery will have set delivery and order dates for each area. This is done to ensure the proper focus and attention can be made to each order. Running a farm means managing planting, weeding, harvesting, and packing orders. Many local farms are smaller operations. Limiting delivery dates/times helps ensure efficiency and availability.
Here at Willow Garden, we deliver to the Jackson, MI area on Tuesdays from 1 PM-5 PM. Orders must be placed Sunday-Monday. Similar for the Hillsdale, MI area, we deliver orders on Thursdays from 1 PM-5 PM. Orders need to be made Tuesday-Wednesday.
What's the catch?
One thing to note is that availability of products from week to week will change. There will also be a limited quantity of total items available depending on the farm you buy from and how many orders they have received.
Local farms unfortunately are not like ordering from Amazon or other online retailers. They do not have an unlimited inventory with 24/7 ordering. The 'menu' changes weekly since it depends on what is ready to harvest that week.
Another potential downside to local farms is that in colder climates, they cannot grow year-round. This means that in the off-season, their stock may be limited. The good news from this is that means what you get during the growing season is from that season, and fresh.
It is not all bad news though. Even in colder climates, you can still expect months of fresh varying produce throughout the season. There may be some downtime in the winter, but it only makes it all the more worth it when the time comes back around next spring.
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If anything sets local produce apart from what chain stores can offer, it is a variety of produce. Sure you may have had tomatoes, but did you know there are over 10,000 varieties? Your grocery store might carry one or two, but your local farmer is likely to carry 5-10 at least.
The reason that many supermarkets can't keep up with the varieties is due to shelf space, and shelf life. Some varieties do not last as long as others, but can be so much more enjoyable, and getting produce fresh, you know you will get to enjoy them right away.
So next time you are shopping for your groceries, consider looking closer to home, and you might be surprised what you find practically in your backyard.
From our home to yours
If you live in Jackson, MI, and the surrounding areas, be sure to check us out. Willow Garden offers a wide variety of organic produce grown right here on our 8-acre farm. Come say hello at the markets, or stop by and see the farm yourself for a local pickup.
You can order direct from us by clicking Here!