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For Earth Day, Eat Local

Mar 31, 2023 | Agriculture, Buying Local, Sustainability | 0 comments

There are many tips to help us “go green” but one of the best ways to make an impact is where you buy your food. Shopping from local, organic and regenerative farms is a fantastic and delicious way to benefit the environment. The techniques local farmers use help improve the soil and water, and reduce climate change. Choosing to shop at a local farmers market, farm stands, and/or joining a CSA farm is an easy way to make a huge difference. Our local food map is a great tool to find a farm or market.

Most of these methods preserve and protect topsoil, the important top fertile layer of the soil. Exposed soil is lost to erosion which has a major impact negative on aquatic life in streams.

Here are some examples of how local farms benefit the environment:

No Till Methods

Tilling disturbs the soil, causing erosion and harming the life within. Farms like Snipes Farm use no-till methods to preserve the soil.

Planting Cover Crops
Cover crops keep soil vegetated and restore fertility. Farms like Milk House Farm utilize cover crops to protect their soil.
Biodiversity
Local farms grow a diverse variety of crops, which benefits pollinators, enhances the soil biome, and keeps our local system robust. For example, Roots to River Farm grows over 75 varieties of vegetables each season.
Composting and Manure
To add nutrients to the soil, many local farmers make their own compost. Plowshare Farms “raising animals alongside vegetables, building soil through manure and composting.”
Crop and Animal Rotation
Planting different crops in a field over different seasons (rotating) and moving animals across different fields are important ways to restore soil and manage pests. Farms like First Fruit Farms move their animals from field to field and also rotate their crops.
No Pesticides
Pesticides are harmful to more organisms than just pests, they kill beneficial insects as well. Farms like Blooming Glen use a variety of methods rather than harmful pesticides to control pests.
No Herbicides
Herbicides may kill weeds, but they also harm wildlife. Farms like Rolling Hills Farm use a variety of methods, including companion planting, silage tarps and good old fashioned human power to deter weeds.
No Synthetic Fertilizers
By implementing the regenerative soil practices above, farms like Hundred Fruit Farm can improve soil fertility naturally without synthetic fertilizers, which can cause harmful algal blooms.
Wetlands and Bio-Swales
Rather than fighting nature, farms like Bluestem Botanicals let wet areas stay wet – creating wetlands and bio-swales. These features provide habitat and help slow down rainwater.
Contour Farming

The farmers at Rolling Harvest Food Rescue’s farm at Gravity Hill use contour farming techniques to plant their rows in curved rows along the natural slope of the land, preventing erosion.

Drip Irrigation
Local farmers utilize drip irrigation and other methods to use water more efficiently.
Riparian Buffers
Riparian buffers are natural vegetated areas that protect creeks. Local farmers like Anchor Run Farm use these to prevent runoff and farm animals (and their poop) from entering waterways.
Less Shipping
Local foods do not need to be shipped far and wide to reach the grocery store, saving fuel and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Less Plastic
Local farmers sell their produce using less packaging and plastic, reducing single-use waste.
Earth Day is an important reminder that we live on a rare and precious planet that provides all everything humanity and every other organism needs to survive. This year, let’s give our planet a break by eating local food! 

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