Agricultural activities can have major environmental impacts. A simple way to help green our region and bring life to Wheaton’s Central Business District can be to shop at your local farmers market.
Shopping at your local farmers market not only benefits a local farmer or vendor, but it also helps connect us to where our food comes from. By talking to your local vendor, you can also learn how you food was produced and get interesting ideas on how and prepare meals with fresh ingredients. Consumers can also provide feedback to the vendors that you are concerned about how your fruits and vegetables are grown. You can also learn what they are doing to use sustainable agricultural practices and to minimize their environmental footprints. Consumers can also improve their diet and nutrition by purchasing fresh locally grown food.
Produce from large industrial farms are frequently picked well before they are ripe so they can be shipped long distances and stored for an extended period of time. The produce at farmers markets are picked when they are ripe, so they are more nutritious.
One of the vendors, Pheasant Hill Farms from Mount Airy, Maryland, had a colorful display of fruits and vegetables. According to the vendor, Pheasant Hill Farms was named because of all the pheasants that were on the farm, until the foxes came. Next to the Pheasant Hill Farm tables was Wheaton’s CC’s Jam’s.
C. C. Hsu, the talkative owner of CC’s Jams, uses Pheasant Hill fruits to make many of her yummy jams. Jams like Ruby Sweet Plum available along with fresh baked goods. The farmers market is not only for people. The home-made dog biscuits are a favorite of the dogs!
While supporting local agriculture at farmers markets is fun, it is also important. According to the Montgomery County Dept. of Economic Development website, about a third of the county land is used for agricultural activity. The website also notes that the “County's diverse agricultural industry's 561 farms and 350 horticultural enterprises produce more than $243 million in economic contribution from agricultural products and operations. The majority of Montgomery County farms are family-run operations, many reaching back several generations, which employ more than 10,000 residents. Of the County's 561 farms, 43% are farmed as a primary occupation.”
Farmer’s Markets provide a secure and regular market outlet for many of our county’s small family-run operations. Many of these small operations and are unable to produce the quantity required by supermarkets, so farmers markets are especially important for these operations.
So this Sunday (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.), help green bring life to Wheaton, support local agriculture and business while having fun. The Wheaton Farmers Market goes to the end of October.
To receive e-mail messages about upcoming GreenWheaton and other green events and participate in discussions on green ideas, join the GreenWheaton Yahoo group. To sign up for the email list, send a blank message to GreenWheatonfirstname.lastname@example.org and you'll get a message from Yahoo Groups to confirm your subscription. Reply to that message and you'll be signed up. Or go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GreenWheaton/ and click on the Join This Group! button.