Friday, August 29, 2014

Local and Sustainable Food Systems

In previous posts, we shared stories from local community gardens in northern New Jersey and discussed the benefits of gardening for people and the environment. Whether they are tiny square foot raised beds in previously abandoned lots or learning gardens at public libraries, community gardens offer a great example of social and environmental sustainability. Home gardens, community gardens, farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture and food cooperatives are part of the broader local food system.

What is the significance of the local food system? First, by establishing a direct link between consumer and producer, the local food system is reconnecting food to place and creating a space for dialogue where people can learn about the production and distribution of their food. Producing, sourcing and consuming locally grown food also reduces carbon footprint by cutting down on those food miles. Furthermore, local food systems can prove to be catalysts for farmland preservation and small-scale agriculture - ultimately paving the way for entrepreneurial opportunities for young family farmers. An additional benefit for consumers and folks testing out their green thumb includes having access to so many varieties of fruits and vegetables. If you live in the Garden State, just think of all the different varieties of tomatoes you can grow in your garden or find at a farmers’ market! To give you an idea of the diversity of the tomato, check out the Rutgers NJAES database showcasing all the tomatoes grown on their research farm. 

The local food system is very much alive and laying down roots all over the United States. Just last week, Grist posted an online blog series called This is what a more sustainable American food system looks like. The author focuses on an individual or a small business in every US state to highlight the ways they are taking steps in producing food more sustainably. “Local” is a key word that you will find in almost every one of these posts. 

If you haven’t done so yet, I encourage you to visit your local farmers’ market and if you have access to a little green space, start a garden! 

Visit the sites below to further explore information on local and sustainably grown food:

Food Forward is a new show that will be premiering on PBS in the Fall about sustainable food systems.
Food Tank is focused on building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters.
Sustainable Table celebrates local sustainable food, educates consumers about the benefits of sustainable agriculture and works to build community through food.

Support your local farmers’ market and farm stands! Come visit the City Green Farm Stands at 171 Grove Street in Clifton, NJ every Friday from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM and at 330 Passaic Street, Passaic, NJ every Tuesday from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM.
Senior citizens at City Green Passaic Market

by Claudia Urdanivia

Claudia is Program Operations Manager at City Green.

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