For the third year in a row now, the Ecology Action Centre’s Our Food Project has partnered with the Cumberland Food Action Network (CFAN), to produce a handy reference for locating local farmers markets in Cumberland County, NS. The Farmers Markets of Cumberland County (and neighbouring Westmorland, NB) postcard is a directory of farmers markets for the area, packaged in a funky, yet practical ‘stick to your fridge’ format. The primary goal of the project is to help to promote and enhance access to local food, while building the capacity of the growing network of farmers markets in our region.
When we surveyed postcard users, they commented that they had no idea that there were so many local markets and that the postcard not only raised awareness about the existence of these markets, but prompted visits by market-goers, that might otherwise not have occurred. Several people let us know that they appreciated the up-to-date information that the postcard provided, such as the exact market start up times and length of season.
So why support your farmers markets?
There are so many great reasons to shop at farmers markets, not the least of which is to support local farms and be a part of building a local food economy, which ultimately, makes us all less dependent on the grocery store. Buying local, sustainably-produced food helps combat global climate change by reducing our food miles – the distance food travels from field to plate – thus, decreasing our carbon footprint. The environmental reasons are numerous, but there are also social and other reasons for supporting farmers markets. They provide a direct marketing outlet for local entrepreneurs, such as small farm and food spin-off businesses, local crafters and artists alike. As such, these markets help incubate local businesses, which is good for our local economy. Farmers markets also help personalize our food shopping experience. You can get to know your farmer and your neighbours. Plus, markets are a lot of fun! Many feature entertainment, such as live music and buskers, face painting, etc., as well as a wide array of local artisanry, home baking, ethnic foods, and of course, fresh, nutritious veggies to choose from.
Another good reason for supporting local food markets is that they are a way of revitalizing our rural economy. I am proud to say that the Municipality of Cumberland and the Town of Amherst Economic Development support the production of the postcards and they are beginning to take a larger role in promoting our markets.
For example, the municipality has recently linked up with Farmers Markets of Nova Scotia (FMNS: http://farmersmarketsnovascotia.ca), to help bring more training opportunities for market vendors and coordinators to Cumberland.
Local markets provide a meaningful alternative to the current global commodity food system, wherein our food supply is controlled by a handful of multi-national corporations. Farmers markets keep money in our communities vs. exporting it to faceless big businesses like Nestle, Kraft, Cargill, etc., whose only concern is profit. Farmers markets are part of a burgeoning informal economy that works outside of the conventional food system, bringing us hope for a more socially just way of feeding our selves.
For more information on the corporate control of our food production and distribution system see:
For an interesting webinar on the power of small local food businesses to transform rural economies see: http://ngfn.org/resources/ngfn-cluster-calls/pollinating-food-enterprises/
To view the postcard, please visit the Cumberland Food Action Network (CFAN) website: http://cumberlandfoodactionnetwork.ca/
Not from Cumberland County? Farmers Markets of NS can direct you to your nearest farmers market: http://farmersmarketsnovascotia.ca/find-a-market/
Blog Written By: Su Morin, Ecology Action Centre, Community Food Coordinator – Cumberland County.
Adventures in Local Food is your source for food news in Nova Scotia, from pickles to policy. It is a project organized by the Ecology Action Centre
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