Anyone wishing to move toward healthier living knows that commercially raised produce isn’t the best option. Not only are the plants usually genetically modified, but are also sprayed, grown in chemical fertilizers, picked green and then ripened on the shelf where nutrients (what can be found in half-ripe produce) slowly deplete.
While many want to move toward nutrition and health, the sad reality of our world is that many of us can’t grow the bulk of our own food. Patio tomatoes, peppers, greens and herbs are a wonderful thing, but they hardly produce enough for a basic food source! Here are 5 ways to get your hands on fresh produce without going to grocery store!
Join a CSA Program
Community Supported Agriculture programs are run by your local farmers and gardeners. Contents can vary from fresh flowers to all kind of veggies, fruits, berries, meat, eggs and even honey. To discover what is available to you, find a CSA near you and inquire about contents distributed by various farms. Many will deliver to your home, or else have drop-off points in your neighborhood. You’ll receive a box or basket with whatever goods are in season. In the spring, baskets may contain less, while mid-late summer they are usually overflowing with rich bounty. Costs vary based on location and the goods your local CSA distributes. Because of delivery services these programs are most convenient, yet are often the most expensive option.
Most cities have a farmer’s market, which usually take place from spring-late fall. Local farmers and gardeners bring their produce (among other things) to sell to the general public. While you will have to purchase garden-fresh greens every week due to short shelf life, ask about purchasing root vegetables (beets, carrots, onions or garlic) in bulk. Some vendors will let you place specific orders. Don’t be afraid to ask! Tidbit: your small-scale gardeners are most likely to have 100% naturally raised, spray-free fruits and vegetables!
Local Community Gardens
Most towns and cities have community gardens available for low cost. Check your city’s official website for specifics of your area. In my little town, it costs $30 to rent a 10’x20′ garden bed for the summer. Quite cheap when you consider the produce you could potentially harvest from it! Always abide by standards regarding upkeep and soil care. To make community gardens worthwhile, choose a place that is within a 10-15 minute drive.
With a Gardening Neighbor
Some towns don’t have community gardens, or if had, are too far out to make it worth your while. Do you have a nearby neighbor who raises a large garden? Inquire about renting space for the summer! Not only is a great way to learn from a local who has the know-how, but also an opportunity to build relationships.Be certain to ask if they have stipulations or requirements about neatness, hybrid vs GMO seeds or soil-care. Respect whatever is asked of you!
Perhaps your neighbor uses all their garden space, but would be happy to have regular help with the weeding and watering? Ask about exchanging labor for dirt-fresh produce. Older folks are often grateful for a helping hand!
Purchasing (or Swapping) Produce with a Neighbor
Regardless of the nature’s weather pattern, most folks will have an access of either hot or cold weather crops. Ask a gardening neighbor or friend about purchasing the excess harvest. Or consider swapping with them! Are you learned in music, painting, drawing, dance or other arts? Perhaps you have skills, such as cutting hair, baking, sewing, wood-working? Offer this in exchange for produce. There’s no shame in asking! Make certain the trade is a fair one and be faithful to your word.
So many things are possible if you develop an old-fashioned mindset, one that thinks outside the box, that can barter, trade and develop relationships with people as you work alongside them!
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