Opinion: Support your local farm

By BARBARA SCHULT

Published: 08-17-2023 6:00 AM

Barbara Schult lives in Goffstown.

Several years ago, I showed my adult son a place that brought me great joy on a regular basis. This was a large barn high up on a hill overlooking Manchester. Not only was it pleasing to the eye, a pastoral landscape of peace, but it was also where I bought my eggs and other produce. The local farm sold their wares out of their barn.

My son’s reaction? “You pay $6 for eggs?” Indeed I did. I am by no means wealthy and others might be astounded by the low level of income I manage to live on, and feel I live quite well.

So if I am on limited means, why do I pay $6 for eggs? (Remember this was years ago, when grocery store eggs could be had for $2 a dozen or less).

I value knowing where my food comes from. I value knowing my farmer. If I had questions about the feed used in the chickens, I could walk outside the barn and track the farmer down to ask. I value being able to drive a few miles to a beautiful hillside, walk into a barn, with no crowds, no lines at cash registers, and buy food grown and raised just outside the door of the barn.

I value nutrition. Food grown in good soil in bright fields of sun, and eggs from chickens roaming freely in that same sun, are far more nutritious. I very much value that the produce I just paid for didn’t spend hours and days on a truck being transported. How many of us can call a trip to a grocery store a joyful one? I value the beauty of the farm, driving on this road and others like it, and seeing the fields and barns and hillsides, instead of houses and housing developments.

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As the ad for a credit card states, all of the above is priceless. For all these reasons, I can’t not pay $6 for eggs. For all these reasons, I must support these farmers who are members of my community, and to me, essential workers indeed. If I want to continue to drive on lovely roads in pastoral settings, I must support my local farmers.

I am thus quite discouraged to see the results of UNH’s recent survey regarding farmers’ markets. When asked about the importance of certain attributes in food buying decisions, “small farm,” “family farm” and “organic” were low in the rankings, hovering around 30%. “Knowing my farmer personally” bottomed out the survey at 21%.

Supporting local doesn’t make me a liberal elite. Supporting local, and buying at farms and farmers markets, is good for my soul, and I believe helps sustain the value of place, the reason I live in New Hampshire, and chose to live here over 40 years ago.

I moved from Long Island, NY, a congested metropolis, more pavement than field, and I have never regretted it. Supporting local helps the planet and sustains a quality of life.

When I give $6 to my local farmer, I know where that money is going and there is a face associated with that payment. It feels good to spend that money. Priceless, indeed.

I encourage more of you to try it. You might like it. You can be the change we need to see in the world.

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