Fruits and vegetables that are grown close to home have more nutrients and fuller flavors due to the shorter amount of time between when they are harvested and when they are eaten. Some other benefits of eating homegrown produce include supporting the local economy, and being able to see how and where your food is grown.1. Farm stands
Farmer Joe’s in Wallingford has a wide variety of locally grown and sourced food. The business’ farm in Northford is where the majority of the food is grown. Madyson Savenelli, an employee at Farmer Joe’s for two years, helped me explore the greenhouse, market, and farmyard.
“There is a garlic field in the back, and a pepper house” Savenelli said of the Wallingford farm stand.
Farmer Joe’s sells its own dessert spices, as well as savory blends for seasoning. The sign over the “Spices” section explains the benefits of purchasing non-irradiated custom blends that come in reusable glass containers. In the market area, there are fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as products from other local farms including jam, honey, eggs, and ice cream.2. Know what’s in season
“Currently we have strawberries and watermelon. Strawberries for another week and then blueberries,” Savenelli said of the in-season fruits.
Eating seasonally helps to reduce the amount of processing and preservatives in our food. Consuming local fruits and vegetables is also good for the environment, since these products are directly from farm to table and do not have to travel long distances.
For more information about what’s in season and local, there is a detailed Connecticut Harvest Calendar available at www.pickyourown.org.3. Community garden plots
Community growing has become increasingly popular in Connecticut, especially in urban areas. Purchasing a garden plot provides locals with a hands-on way to contribute to local agriculture. Once or twice yearly, community members can purchase a plot of land within the larger community garden area. Often times tools are provided for local growers to use as they plant and harvest their crops.
More information on Wallingford’s Community Garden can be found by searching for Wallingford at communitygarden.org.4. CSA programs
Community supported agriculture programs connect farmers directly with consumers by inviting locals to purchase portions of seasonal harvests. Each CSA program has its own unique system. The general idea behind CSA is to have participants subscribe to a farm, or network of farms, in order to receive fresh produce regularly. Payments vary from monthly dues to volunteer work on the farm.5. Farmers’ markets
Farmers’ markets provide consumers with a variety of fresh and locally grown options weekly. The Northeast Organic Farming Association lists local markets throughout Connecticut by county.
The City of Meriden will host its annual farmers marketplace starting July 13th and continuing through the summer until October 19th . The Meriden Farmers’ Market will be every Saturday from 8:30am-12:30pm on the Meriden Green, rain or shine.
More information can be found at www.meridenct.gov/visit/meriden-farmers-market.
For a full list of CT farmers’ markets visit ctnofa.org/FarmersMarkets.htm.
Kristen Dearborn is a Wallingford native, NASM certified personal trainer and author of the blog dearfitkris– https://dearfitkris.com/