Farmers markets feed many needs
By Jessica Walliser
Published: Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
We all have different reasons for gardening. For some, it's a therapeutic retreat; for others, it's the enjoyment of providing nourishment for their family. Maybe you garden for the pure beauty of it, or maybe it's the exercise and the opportunity to spend a few hours in the great outdoors with only the birds and worms for company.
For some folks, there is another reason involved: money. Western Pennsylvania is home to more than 70 farmers markets, and each provides income for many small farmers and gardeners from all around our region.
I was once one of those farmers. Ten years ago, I spent my days planting and harvesting crops to sell at two farmers markets in Beaver County. Growing food for others is not an easy job, but it was one that I loved. Farmers markets are not only valuable sources of fresh, locally raised produce, but they also are a primary source of income for many amazing and dedicated families.
Most vegetable gardeners already know that there is something romantic about growing food. I love being a part of everything that goes into producing something as simple as a carrot; scouring seed catalogs for the best variety, nurturing the soil, nestling each tiny seed into its home, weeding, watering, hauling wheelbarrows of mulch and pulling the root from the soil with my own hands.
Now, imagine the sense of accomplishment you might feel looking over a market table filled with your beautiful carrots — and then people pay you for them! Customers take them home and cook them. They put them onto a plate and present it to their family, and they feel good about it. Who can say that about a whittled-down “baby carrot” pulled from a plastic bag?
One of the best things about shopping at a local farmers market is the opportunity to discover more about where your food comes from — and about the person who grew it. Small farmers aren't just interested in cultivating crops; they're also interested in cultivating relationships. Not only do they love to share what they grew, but also their story. Ask them why they farm, how they farm and what they love (and hate) about it. Opening this door can make you a better gardener and a better person. Get to know your local farmers — they have more to offer than just their carrots.
I know that you probably garden for one of the more personal reasons I mentioned at the start of this article. But you've got an important role to play. Gardeners are the ones who really value small farmers. We understand how much work and energy goes into growing that table full of produce. We understand how critical it is that small growers keep growing. We appreciate a fresh vegetable that came to our table via a smiling face rather than a refrigerated truck.
Trust me: The families who sell at farmers markets need all the help they can get. They grow plants because they love it, just like you do.
Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Grow Organic” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is www.jessicawalliser.com.
Send your gardening or landscaping questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Highmark eliminates more than 100 jobs
- Steelers bring back long snapper Warren, lineman Wallace
- Landslide closes section of Allegheny River Boulevard
- Surveillance cameras stop working after Pittsburgh fails to pay bill
- Security breach compromises credit card info at Bloomfield medical practice
- Penguins notebook: Letang skating, but no return set
- Fayette jury sentences man to death for fatal beating of 4-year-old boy
- Panthers free agent safety headed to Steelers
- Allegheny Co. DA criticizes Peduto administration over info released in E. Liberty murder case
- Orpik rises to occasion as Penguins take down Capitals once again
- Habitat initiative meant to boost turkeys