By Emma Nicely
I grew up in a tiny town in Virginia where I was fortunate enough to be exposed to or introduced to many things that other people are not. Gardening, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities are just a few examples. When I was younger, one of my favorite things to do was to help my granddad in the garden. Our garden was a good size and nothing extraordinary, but it meant a lot to me at the time, and it still means a lot to me now. We had corn, green beans, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and a variety of other veggies. I helped till the soil, plant the vegetables water them, put on fertilizer, and basically everything else you must do to maintain a garden. Out of the many steps of gardening, my favorite part was helping him pick the “‘mator bugs,” as he called them, off the plant leaves because they would eat the plants and leaves until the plant itself would eventually die. I also loved when it was time to finally harvest the plants and bring home the finished products after all the hard work and time spent growing them. We would keep many of the crops for ourselves to either use at that time or to can and preserve them for a later time, but we also shared a lot with our family and friends.
I didn’t realize how significant farming was until I was a little older. I now realize that we would not have the food and food system that we do today if it weren’t for farming and farmers. With that said, despite all the farming that takes place around the world, there are still individuals who do not have access to organic and home-grown foods in the same manner that I had when I was younger.
In the United States, about 43% of people cannot afford healthy/organic food. Things like fresh fruits, vegetables, and more. This makes me very sad since many people who can’t afford it or doesn’t have access to it are in desperate need of it in their diets. Fresh fruits and vegetables are needed in our diets to have a healthier and more stable life. Organic foods tend to have more beneficial nutrients, including antioxidants. Antioxidants can protect your cell against diseases like heart disease, cancer, and many more. I believe that if we supported more local farmer’s markets across the country and raised awareness about this issue, these statistics may change. Constantly people are saying that many farmer’s markets prices are said to be more affordable and competitive. In low-income areas, 6 in 10 customers said that they could find better prices at the markets than at the grocery stores. Appalachia markets found that 74% of the community’s market produce was less expensive on average by 22%.
The Farmer Market Coalition (FMC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving farmer’s markets across the country. It is now aiming to provide market managers and farmers with the tools they need to run effective markets. They also finance research that aims to increase public awareness of the advantages and impacts of farmer’s markets. Farmers have a voice in public policies that have a real influence on our food chain, thanks to FMC. Market managers, vendors, and customers have access to a network of assistance.
Gardening or farming isn’t for everyone, but it does not hurt to try. I strongly advise everyone to try farming or gardening if you have never done it before. “The Old Farmer’s Almanac,” “The Complete Gardeners Guide,” and “The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner” are just a few of the books and publications available to assist you get started from scratch. Local food and farmer’s market directories can also be found on the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service website. You can even donate to the FMC to help them continue their work for our communities and local farmer’s markets. In addition to supporting your community and giving back to those in need, it is critical that we continue to support our local farmers as well as farmers all over the world in order to keep farmer’s markets and other forms of agriculture growing. “Farmer’s markets are a crucial ingredient to our nation’s economy, food systems, and the communities around them.