This week, millions of Americans will gather around the Thanksgiving table with family and friends enjoying the harvest from the most bountiful food source in the world. But, did you know that this week (November 20 – 26, 2009) is also National Farm-City Week? It’s a week designed by the National Farm City Council, to highlight the important roles that urban and rural partnerships play in food and fiber production and to enhance the links between farm families and urban residents.
This makes it a great time to say “thank-you” to those who grow our food. One of the best ways to do this is to support local agriculture and the local farmers in your area or state.
You may be reluctant to do this, since most news stories regarding farmers usually cast a negative light on them. However, many of our farmers practice sustainable agriculture and work toward preserving our natural resources, protecting the environment and conserving water. As I have written about several times here on Care2.com, they are the largest stewards of our land and are working to preserve what little open space is left.
But each year, their very existence is jeopardized by the unchecked growth of development, competition and dominance by large corporate farms, over-regulation at the state and federal level, and the apparent lack of concern for their survival by the general public.
American Farmland Trust (AFT), reports that every minute of every day, America loses two acres of farm and ranch land to development. And, as they point out, without local farms and farmland, there is no local food.
For the past several years, more people have been buying and eating locally grown produce, and overall there is more awareness that buying from local growers supports a healthy economy. But, this increased demand will take more farms, farmers, and farm land to grow more local food and that’s why supporting the work of groups like AFT is so important.
As you sit down at the table this Thanksgiving and give thanks for all of the good in your life, take the opportunity to thank our farmers. From the time you crawl out of the cotton sheets on your bed in the morning, to the time you brush your teeth at night, agriculture is there, so we must help to protect it.
You can make a difference by asking where your food is grown, who grew it, and when and how it was grown. Shop at your local farmers market; look for “Buy Local” campaigns at your local market, showing that the food was made in your region or state.
If you live in an area where there are farms and farm trails, take your children to petting zoos, pumpkin patches, Christmas tree farms, “u-pick” orchards and farms, and teach them where their food comes from. Initiate a farm day at your school, or invite a farmer to talk at your school or community organization.
You can also join American Farmland Trust’s “No Farms No Food” campaign and support their work in preserving farmland and local food.
Judi Gerber is a University of California Master Gardener with a certificate in Horticultural Therapy. She writes about sustainable farming, local foods, and organic gardening for multiple magazines. Her book Farming in Torrance and the South Bay was released in September 2008.