No-Sweat Local Food in 2009

 Early Spring Garden, Campsie Place

Early Spring Garden, Campsie Place

I like earliest spring the very best of any season. In Kentucky this season of promise may already be underway, despite yesterday's snow and today's 30 degree sunshine. This time in January and February works well for making plans for the upcoming growing season. The most virtuous among us saved seed from our own gardens last year and are already laying off rows on paper, planning produce perfection for 2009. Perhaps we even have garlic or potato onions or perennials like asparagus growing in our gardens right this minute. Others of us, still plenty virtuous, are looking at seed catalogs and making out orders.

Some of us cannot or will not garden this year. Even so, we can still claim some virtue credits and eat beautiful, delicious, nutrient-rich food. Two good options: local farmer markets, and local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscriptions.

On locating farmers markets: The United States Department of Agriculture offers an online search tool that may help, though it can be frustrating. When I typed "Kentucky" into the "state" search box and left all other search boxes blank, I got a long list of markets not in alphabetical order. The list does seem quite comprehensive. No links to market's websites are included, but other forms of contact information are offered for most.

Kentucky's Department of Agriculture also offers an annual list of markets. (View 2011 list.) If you live in a state other than Garden Paradise (aka "Kentucky") -- poor you -- Google around a bit if the USDA list is not helpful enough. When we travel to other states, I now routinely find and enjoy farmers markets by searching for "farmers markets, [state name]."

To locate options for buying Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscriptions from a farm new you, use the interactive map at Local Harvest. CSAs are wonderful ways to support local farms and your local economy and eat fine food all during the growing season. It may seem early, but some CSA farms already have waiting lists for 2009, so you may want to start making your choices and placing your calls.

A sidebar thought: Local Harvest just keeps getting better and better as a resource for people interested in local, sustainably grown food. I appreciate the Local Harvest people, and all the growers who use this good gateway to communicate with us about what's growing, what's grown, where, when, and for how much.