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Opinion

May 31, 2014

In Our Opinion: Support your local farmers

More and more, people are able to get some of their groceries direct from the source.

Farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture arrangements and the “locavore” movement are helping bring people closer to their food sources.

Farmers markets have been around for years. While some markets, such as those in Cooperstown and Oneonta, operate year-round, seasonal markets are now getting in full swing.

Some local markets are listed on the state Department of Agriculture and Market’s Web page at www.agriculture.ny.gov/ap/communityfarmersmarkets.asp. But more are available, so keep an eye on community bulletin boards and newspapers, or ask around to find one around you.

Some may only be available once or twice per year or around holidays. Others are open monthly, twice a month, weekly or even twice a week.

Many markets also participate in the WIC/Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, giving lower-income people easier access to healthier food. 

An added advantage of farmers markets is that you can get a lot more than farm products. While fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, eggs, honey and maple products may be at the heart of the farmers markets, many offer entertainment, recipes, samples, crafts, baked goods, flowers, yard-sale items and more.

A more-direct route to get local products is a CSA. Although there are different versions of what a CSA is, the basic premise is a mutually beneficial agreement between a farmer and a consumer that involves an advanced payment to the farmer who agrees to supply produce or products during the growing season. Many farms run their own CSAs, with different price points and quantities accessible to the public.

The state has also realized the importance of making fresh, local produce available.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $350,000 in funding through the state’s FreshConnect Farmers’ Market program earlier this month to help increase access to fresh, local produce. 

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