Whether you are already a healthy eater who is striving to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable in their eating habits, or you are learning to eat more wholesome, local foods, it is great to know where your food comes from and to have a personal connection with the farming communities who serve us. Kid’s and adults alike can enjoy learning more about how their food grows and where it comes from.
Where do I start connecting with local foods? Get in touch with your local community farmers market. Most cities, big and small have weekly farmers markets. Depending on where you live, there may be seasonal or sometimes year round farmers markets to feast on and learn about local delights. At most farmer’s market you can buy produce directly from the farmers who grow them as well as purchase and peruse other artisanal goods. Often you can talk to the farmers themselves or the volunteers working the booth and learn more about the farm and even get involved directly with the farm.
Many vegetable farms allow you to volunteer for a day, usually the day they harvest and put together their CSA boxes, and get some veggies in return!
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): Some farms have CSA programs where you can have a weekly box of fresh fruits and vegetables delivered to your door or pick-up your box of goodies at designated locations. A lot of farms have add-ons for your box of food such as fresh milk, eggs, meats, flowers and baked goods. Most CSA farms like you to pay ahead of time to help them buy the supplies they will need for their crops but some have payment systems in place to pay individually for each box.
If you are a meat eater, getting involved in animal shares can be great too. Buying half a lamb or cow (through a local organization with pasture raised meat) with a couple friends and freezing it to eat throughout the year can save on money in the long term and ensure that you are getting high quality, grass-fed meat.
Community Gardens/Community Farms: You may have driven through neighborhoods or schools where little community gardens can been seen. If you like to garden but don’t have yard space, community gardens are a way to share land and resources and bring to life your own vegetable garden within the city! If you are interested, check them out and see how you can get involved, add to the gardens, and reap the benefits of getting your hands in the soil and soon harvesting and eating your very own freshly grown food.
Some community gardens/farms hold workshops where you can learn more about gardening, farming, composting, cooking and so much more. I live and practice acupuncture in Lakewood, Colorado and one example of a local community farm here is Sprout City Farms. Sprout City Farms (sproutcityfarms.org) is a nonprofit organization that helps create healthier, more resilient communities and enables them to bring affordable, healthy food to schools, neighborhoods, and beyond, donate food to community organizations and families in need, educate youth and adults about farming and build community. Last year they offered workshops on water conservation/drip irrigation, composting/vermicomposting, pickling/fermenting, canning, preserving, seed saving, soil building/composting.
How else can I get involved in a sustainable healthy future? Grow your own garden! What are your absolute favorite fruits and vegetables? Ask your local farmers if they grow well where you live and if they have a recommendation on where to buy your seeds. Local nurseries and gardening stores are really knowledgeable and helpful too. They can help you sort through logistics like when and where to plant certain foods and when to harvest all the amazing food you have created in your own home. If you don’t have a backyard or gardening space, hanging wall planters or tiny planters full of herbs can be a great start to adding some home grown deliciousness to your meals. Or, as mentioned earlier, volunteer or get involved in your community gardens or farms!
About the author: Crystal Jancovic, L.Ac is co-founder of Lakewood Community Acupuncture in Lakewood, Colorado, which is the first non-profit community acupuncture clinic in the state. She believes fully in offering affordable healthcare to her community and becoming an active community member through supporting local businesses, growing her own food with her family, attending community events and keeping her patients healthy and happy.
Information on local Denver farm projects: http://sproutcityfarms.org/
Information on gardening helping with depression: http://permaculture.com.au/why-gardening-makes-you-happy-and-cures-depression/
Information on Goji berries: Acupuncture Desk Reference Book by David Kuoch