Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Community Gardens And Local Farmers

There are a few of my favorite blogs that are touting the resurgence of community gardens, particularly in the East End. I think that this a good thing since this is one of the areas that has been declared a "food desert". If this work here then maybe we can try it in other areas.

They (and others) continue to call for a downtown grocery and believe that that will bring population. I will say it again, retail always follows population. That does not mean that nourishing food cannot be made available in the downtown area, because it can. That suburban mega-Kroger will sell more junk food in sheer volume than all the really healthful food that is locally available.

One reason that I like the farmers market concept(but not always the downtown market) is the really locally grown products. Anything brought in from more that 80 miles is suspect and I will not consider it. More than 80 miles and you begin to account for storage and transportation. Do you realize the requirements for tomatoes for the large chains, sometimes a shelf life of up to 32 days. They would have to be picked green and forced into ripeness. Farmers from one or two counties away will bring crops picked within the last 24 hours, now that is fresh and fresher is nutritious.

A lot of those local farmers are small operations and limited in scope, but they are getting larger and more diversified in their offerings. Most are family farms, either recently or historically, transitioning from a crop that has fallen out of favor, tobacco.

Yesterday I noticed a group of young people in blue jackets around the Lexington Civic Center. We have the FFA State Convention in town this week. A whole new crop of farmers willing to follow in the family footsteps. It heartens me that so many want to continue to feed the rest of us. These are ones we need to support far more than the mega producers of corporate farming. This how we can make the whole state "Kentucky Proud".

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