Ms Robin's Garden

  (Caneyville, Kentucky)
Happenings on the Hilltop
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Making the switch to eating locally grown food

The news stations have been reporting about the recent increase in food prices because of weather events. The current price for a 25# box of wholesale tomatoes is $30, up from $7. Why? Because Florida lost 70% of their tomato crops due to extended freezing temperatures.
It doesn't end there. California, which provides 50% of the nation's produce, has had extreme weather too, which damaged some of their crops. Strawberries were specifically mentioned on the news. The earthquakes in Chile impacted both the harvest and transportation of plums and grapes.
We have become accustomed to the rows and rows of colorful trucked in produce, where we can buy just about any fruit or vegetable at any time of the year. We may be in for a shock in the coming weeks, when we see a smaller selection and sky high prices. All the more reason to eat locally grown's usually much less expensive.
I don't buy much in the way of fresh produce. I would love to tell you that we only eat locally grown and in season food, or that we preserve nine month's worth of food from the garden each fall, but that's not the case. We do buy some fresh vegetables during the winter, such as lettuce, tomatoes on a occasion, and potatoes and onions starting sometime in January, which is about the time we run out of our homegrown stash. We also buy some canned vegetables. Then, there are the foods that just can't be grown locally, so I grin and bear it, when I pick up bags of oranges or grapefruits. A good portion of the other vegetables and fruits we consume through the winter come from our freezer. 
But this is a new year. We have plans to put in a winter harvest garden this coming fall, so that we can eat more "locally grown" food for a longer period. We'll be offering a week by week share to our members who wish to continue with us till the end of this season's harvest.

New link in the food chain

Extra! Extra! Community Supported Agriculture (CSA for short) offers a new link in the food chain.
The CSA concept is relatively new. Originating in Europe in the 1960's, the CSA made it's first known appearance in the US in the mid 1980's. By 1990, there were only about 60 nationwide. According to the U of KY Extension Service, there were 1,150 in 2005, with 15 of those in Kentucky. As of February, 2010, we now have 1,300 across the US and 20 right here in Kentucky.
Following the contamination scares in recent years of fresh produce, more and more people are opting to purchase their fruits and vegetables from local farmers. This gives the consumers the opportunity to get to know the farmers and they can visit the farms to see for themselves first hand where and how their food is grown. Small farmers are leaning more toward organic and naturally grown practices to insure the quality and safety of our food.
How does a CSA work? In a nutshell, consumers pay a fee in advance for a share of the farmer's crops. Through the growing season, the members receive a bag or box full of freshly harvested produce each week, generally delivered to a central location for the members to pick up. Currently, most CSAs in this area have an average 20 week season. The contents will change each week based on what is seasonally available for harvest. The members are also sharing in the risk of crop failures. However, most CSA farmers using numerous tried and true methods, to lessen the risks to some extent. Farmer's benefit from having a ready market of confirmed customers and knowing how much they need to plant. They can concentrate more on farming and less on marketing.
Buying your food locally is not only good for you, but good for the community, as well!

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