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View Diary: How I Found My Bliss at the Farmers' Market (25 comments)

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  •  The History of Farmers' Markets (7+ / 0-)

    Here in MA, Republican Governor Frank Hatch commissioned a study on food security soon after the first oil shock in 1972.  When it showed how little the Commonwealth produced for its own consumption, the government decided to begin promoting local agriculture for food security and economic development under the banner of "Massachusetts grown and fresher."

    At that time there were only about 18 farmers' markets in the state.  Now there are close to 400.  Where I live, Cambridge, MA, there's a farmers' market every day of the week and a winter market on Saturdays.  Over the years, we've built up an alternative economic system that has helped drive the conventional food system in healthier directions.

    Now, some folks are beginning to think about building on that foundation and integrating food and nutrition into the school system.  Every elementary school in Cambridge has a garden through an organization called City Sprouts.  A small group is thinking what it would be like to grow all the food we eat in the city itself.  Quixotic perhaps, but Linköping, Sweden, a city of about the same population, is planning to do the same with vertical farming, a tall building with agriculture on every floor.  Just this week, I attended a meeting at City Hall to consider how Cambridge will expand agriculture throughout the town, considering how to regulate urban farms and chickens and bees.  Somerville, our neighbor, has already established their regulations and Boston, another neighbor, after over a year of work, is having open meetings to introduce their new regulations and zoning procedures for urban agriculture and farming.

    Our Cambridge farmers' markets don't have a required 50 mile foodshed but every farmers' market in the Commonwealth has regulations that preclude non-farmer or artisan products to be sold there.

    Over the years, I have made many friends and acquaintances among the producers who come to our market, a market I helped found back in the late 1970s.  This is the human and humane way to buy your nutrition.  It's fresher, it tastes better, and your money goes directly to those who grow, catch, and make it.

    This is one thing we've gotten right and may this approach  continue to flourish and grow.

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