Posts Tagged ‘plants’

Farmers’ Markets Are Back!

It’s that time of year again; farmers’ markets are back!  Lettuces, kale, swiss chard, pea greens, radishes, strawberries – there’s lots of early spring produce, especially with greenhouse grown vegetables.  You can also get locally raised eggs, meat, and poultry, fresh-baked goods, locally produced cheeses, potted plants and herbs, handcrafted soaps and lotions, and artisanal items.  Every week it’s something different.

I’m thrilled that the farmers’ market concept has caught on.  The average food travels 1500 miles from farm to plate, consuming large quantities of fossil fuels and generating major CO2 emissions. Produce is picked unripe, then gassed to ripen, or processed using preservatives or irradiation, losing important nutritional value.    With farmers’ markets, food is grown locally using organic or sustainable farming practices and picked at peak ripeness.  Fresh and nutritious, there is nothing tastier than a vegetable or fruit straight from the farm.

English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with vari...

Photo by: Wikipedia

There are many other advantages.  When you shop at a farmers’ market, you are supporting local farmers and the local economy. The farmer sells directly to the customer; middlemen are eliminated and the farmer gets to keep more of his profits.

In this era of prepackaged foods, there is little direct connection to our food.  At a farmers’ market, you meet and get to know the people who grow your food and they get to know the people who eat the food they grow.  Today’s children will grow up understanding that their food doesn’t just come in a plastic bag from a giant supermarket, instead someone actually plants the seeds, cares for the tender plant and then harvests the fruit or vegetable.

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Mashpee Commons Farmers’ Market

Farmers’ markets bring the community together; they are a place for neighbors and friends to connect.  Participating local musicians, food trucks, art shows, and children’s activities make food shopping a real event.

Local farms help preserve open space, protect the land and promote healthy ecosystems.  With sustainable farming, the soil isn’t contaminated with toxic chemicals, keeping our waterways safe.

I participated in the Mashpee farmers’ market on Cape Cod last weekend answering green living questions.  Shoppers and vendors were happy, enjoying the warm summer day.  Customers chatted with the farmers and admired the fruits of their labor.  One vendor even sings opera! Farmer’s markets provide an old-fashioned respite from our fast-paced, wired lives.

Mashpee Commons Farmer's Market

Mashpee Commons Farmers’ Market

So, take a break and visit the farmers’ market in your town.  You’ll enjoy more than the delicious and nutritious produce grown in your area, you’ll enjoy the whole experience.

If you are in the Mashpee area on Cape Cod, stop by the Farmers’ Market at the Mashpee Commons and say hi.  I’m there most Saturdays – the market runs from 1:30 – 6:00!

Some information compiled from winchesterfarmersmarket.org.

 

Conserve Water During Dry Conditions

According to a report from the National Climatic Center in Asheville, NC and the Huffington Post,  “The nation’s widest drought in decades is spreading, with more than half of the continental United States now in some stage of drought and most of the rest enduring abnormally dry conditions.”  As I write this post from my farm on Cape Cod, the thermometer says 88 degrees (though it feels even hotter), much of my lawn looks brown and my flowers, vegetables and normally hearty hydrangea look wilted.  And there have been many days this summer just like this.

We obviously need to water to keep our plants alive. However, we need to think about water conservation too in such dry conditions with little or no rain in the forecast. A lush green lawn is lovely, but turf grass is our largest irrigated “crop” using as much as half of all fresh water used in urban areas each year. Typically, at least half of all water consumed by households is used outdoors. Lawns require two-and-a-half to four times more water than trees and shrubs, and a typical suburban lawn uses 10,000 gallons of water over and above that provided by rainfall in a single year.

What can you do?  Lots…

  • Mow high.  Longer grass encourages longer roots, which require less water and food. It also holds moisture better.
  • Avoid mowing during the hottest part of the day.
  • Don’t mow if you don’t have to.  Save the gas instead.
  • When you do water, water deeply and infrequently.
  • Water between 4 and 6am when the demand is low.  After 10 am much of the water evaporates.
  • Check your automatic sprinkler system periodically to make sure the heads are actually watering the lawn and not the sidewalk or your house.
  • Since there seems to be a trend towards hot, dry summers, consider re-landscaping to minimize grass areas in your lawn, lowering your demand for water.
  • If you can, let your lawn go dormant during this drought period.  Lawns are supposed to go dormant in the summer – we just keep them artificially green by watering.  If your lawn has a good root system established, it won’t die and will bounce back during the cooler temperatures of fall.

    Very green grass, despite the drought

    Very green grass, despite the drought (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Information compiled from http://www.bouldercolorado.gov and http://web4.audubon.org/