Local Food for the Non-Gardener

As hard as it is for me to imagine, not everyone is into gardening. I know, a shocker. Well for those who want the freshness and localness of a garden, without all the time and effort, there I an alternative. It’s called Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA for short.

A CSA is a local farm that sells a subscription-like service to its produce. Usually called shares, these subscriptions are either monthly or annual purchases that entitle each owner to a weekly portion of the produce form the farm. Each week a CSA member receives a delivery, or picks up a container holding an assortment of in-season vegetables, freshly picked from the local farm. In return, the farmer gets a steady dependable income from local customers. This exchange keeps money flowing through the local economy and reduces food miles at the same time.

CSA shares can vary in cost depending on the amount of food you get, and the frequency of payments. So, what are some of the advantages to joining a CSA?

  • You get great fresh, local, in-season food
  • You pay someone else to do the dirty work
  • You could still keep a small garden while expanding the variety or quantity of your local food.
  • You support local farmers helping assure long-term food security for your area

Being a member might also expose you to new varieties of vegetables, and inspire you to try new dishes you might not otherwise have discovered.

You will likely pay more in a CSA then you would for vegetables in the grocery store, but you are getting a much higher quality product. Most CSA’s grow organically, whether certified as such or not. The food will also be fresher and more nutrient dense, as it’s picked when best to consume, not best to ship.

If you want to give CSA’s a try you can learn more and find a CSA near you at https://www.localharvest.org.  Who knows, maybe a CSA will strike the right balance between local and simple for you?

Sharing – The Simple Solution to Saving Money

The Sharing Economy. We hear about it every day. Independent contractors who “share” their homes or cars through some central entity to make a few extra bucks.  Well, I’m not so sure about that definition.  The sharing I’m familiar with doesn’t involve money changing hands. No, it’s the good old-fashioned kindergarten level sharing I’m talking about as a simple way to save money on your gardening or home repair projects.

I’m referring to tool sharing of course. If you are just starting out as a gardener or homeowner, you’ll find the initial outlay on tools required to put in and maintain a garden, or tackle a renovation project, can run into the hundreds of dollars. Instead of buying everything you need yourself, why not find a group of friends or neighbors in the same boat and share tools with one another.  Don’t know who to ask?  Reach out on Facebook. There are already thriving sharing communities on-line you can join. Sometimes called “tool-libraries” these groups facilitate person-to-person tool borrowing, or sometimes have central locations (like the actual community library!) where tools can be checked out like books.

If you can’t find a tool-share nearby, just start one with a simple post stating “Fugal home-owner seeks other like-minded tight-wads to share home and garden tools.” Post it with a picture of your pitifully empty shed and see if you don’t have get a bunch of sympathetic replies.

Hello… (again)

Yes, it’s been a long while…

BeLocal was launched in 2012 with a mission to make a few things happen in Mount Airy. Things that would increase our quality of life and connectedness of the community. When we launched, we didn’t know what those things would be.

So, we conducted a survey…

Which generated 5 powerful ideas…

Not all were new (most were not). But they had tremendous, long-term community support.

So we set off to help support those in progress, and lift those which needed more of a boost.

Some got done:

  • Rails to Trails.
  • Improved walkability of downtown.
  • Investment in our parks.

Some continue. Like the number one request, a Community Center. Plans, consultations, site visits, and detailed research have been worked on laboriously for the past 5 years as part of a town task force. The town is near the point of approving reconstruction of the Flat-Iron building, which would dedicate 1 floor to flexible community space. This space would serve the needs of the town, citizens, civic organizations, and businesses for added room to hold meetings, events, classes, performances, exhibits, parties, clubs, gatherings, you name it. In short, a whole lot of what was asked for in our survey.

But you know what? BeLocal was never about a survey. Or a community Center. That was just one tool and one need. Our vision was and is much more holistic.

So while all that support work was going on, (along with life in general), BeLocal has been taking a back seat. But now we’re back with a redesigned site, new topics and information, and a new focus on providing resources for strengthening social and economic ties, and building a sustainable and resilient future.