At Farmer Focus, our name says it all. We are on a mission to promote and protect generational family farms, and we take it pretty seriously ~ even in our individual daily routines! For National Farmers’ Day, we wanted to share some of the ways we really enjoy connecting with our farming community. Most family farms offer a diversity of seasonal goods in order to keep the farm running through the months, so there are many different ways to directly impact their business.
In the Shenandoah Valley, this is one of our absolute favorite ways to get outside and celebrate harvest seasons. Many times, these events coincide with how-to workshops that teach different ways to use the food you take home. From sunflower fields to apple and peach orchards, pick-your-own is a great way to spend the day outside with friends and family and connect with your farming community. Right now, it’s pumpkin season, which is hands-down the most fun of picking seasons. Take a group of friends or the kids to a local patch and find your perfect carving pumpkin!
Search pickyourown.org for a free list of farms and festivals in every state.
2. SHOP AT YOUR LOCAL FARMERS’ MARKET
These are the most direct ways to support local farmers, while adding adventure to your weekly meals!
Farmers’ Markets are a great way to get acquainted with seasonal foods in your area, and to meet your farmers face-to-face. Fun fact: local farmers are your neighbors! If you have questions about the foods for sale, you can bet farmers have the answers—so take the opportunity to learn and try new foods or new ways to prepare your favorites! Visit the United States Department of Agriculture website for a list of Farmers’ Markets across the country!
3. JOIN A CSA PROGRAM
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. A CSA is like book-of-the month for vegetables—for a fixed fee, your local CSA farmer assembles a box of vegetables (sometimes other goods like fresh flowers, herbs, eggs or cheese) that are seasonal and ready to prepare.
In some cases, you pick up the boxes at a farm or central location, and in other cases, boxes are delivered right to your door! This is a great way to connect with your farming community and learn more about local seasonal foods. Are you ready to get creative in the kitchen while supporting local farmers? Find a CSA farm near you!
4. JOIN OR SHOP AT A FOOD CO-OP
Most food co-ops strive to stock their shelves with locally grown food and custom goods from farmers. If the items can’t be found locally, you can bet they do their research to find responsible sources. By spending at a co-op, you indirectly support farmers by paying into a grocery system that offers fair payment for local goods, and consistent income across the seasons.
Co-ops keep prices low by relying on the participation and management of its members. Some co-ops require membership to shop, but most are open to the public! These stores are always great places to find local honey, soaps, jams & jellies, cheese, and much more. Visit a co-op to find unique gift items, or something to make your weekend meal a little more special.
Search this directory to find a co-op in your area!
5. SPREAD THE WORD AND SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE
One of the biggest challenges in finding ways to support local farmers is advertising. Farming is a 24-hour a day job, and most small farms don’t have a full-time marketing department. But social media and word of mouth is powerful! If you take part in any of the 4 adventures above, share your experience with friends, and invite them to join you. Ask farmers if they have a facebook page and tag them in your stories, share your recipes and culinary adventures with local foods, repost local food events, and use hashtags to connect with supporters across the globe!
Some of our favorite hashtags: #farmtotable, #meetyourfarmer, #knowyourfarmer, #nofarmsnofood #localfood #shoplocal
So be the Captain of a weekend adventure—or a whole season of local foods—and invite others on the voyage!
★ GET INFORMED & DONATE ★
Learning about our food system can be a little overwhelming at first, but there are organizations dedicated to bringing you quality information about farming, in ways that make sense to everyone. As the holiday season approaches, consider an annual donation to organizations who work hard to keep family farms on the land, and innovation moving forward. Even $10/year is worth giving! Here’s a list of organizations worth looking into: