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SEPTEMBER 12, 2009   

Local food: connecting the dots

Fresh vegetables on display at marketI love farmer's markets, both the idea (supporting small-scale farms rather than corporate agribusiness) and the experience (friendly people selling what they've grown).

One thing troubles me, though. In a large city like Cleveland the farms are often 50-80 miles away. Farmer John has to fire up the pickup at 6 a.m. and drive an hour to bring his corn and green beans to me. At the end of the day he drives back.

The energy used to transport small amounts of veggies weekly—or daily if Farmer John sells at multiple markets—might be a whole lot more per pound than driving a big refrigerated semi filled with California carrots. I hope the energy trade-off isn't too bad as I continue to shop at farmer's markets for all the other reasons.

Today, though, I found some folks who have figured out a better way. The beautiful vegetables you see above at the Gordon Square Farmer's Market were grown just a couple miles away at a community garden run by EcoVillage Cleveland. What a great idea!

Cleveland has lots of community gardens—we've seen a dozen or more in walks around the neighborhood, and I know this is true in other parts of town. In the last year, farmer's markets have popped up in many East and West side neighborhoods. The perfect solution as demonstrated by the people at Gordon Square: hyper-local food, grown in your own neighborhood. What could be better?

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