Our country home

Shopping locally saves rural agriculture

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Dear reader, we’ve discussed a lot of things here in Our Country Home these past few months: chickens, homesteading, what not to do on a homestead, how to get your homestead started. And today we’re going to discuss a very important topic: agriculture in the rural community.

This topic is so near and dear to me. It’s why I live here. It’s why I have a homestead, or at least have dreams of a homestead. But what does this have to do with you, dear reader? It has a lot to do with you! It means connecting to our local communities through agriculture.

As you probably know, our area is centered on agriculture and small businesses. Just take where I live as an example. Within 10 minutes of my homestead, I can find a café that utilizes local products, from tea and coffee to local produce and bread. I can visit the farm market on Saturdays. There’s the cutest farm stand I’ve ever seen (more on farm stands in just a minute). There’s a new general store selling local products. And that’s just the New York side of the river. If you drive in the opposite direction, into Pennsylvania, there’s a thriving farm stand that not only sells their own produce but now offers a wide selection of items from that state. And just across the street from that farm stand is the local apiary where you can purchase jarred honey the old-fashioned way—from their front porch, using the “honor system.”

Why am I telling you about this? Well, it’s mainly to paint a picture of where we live. If you’ve been following along, or even if you haven’t, and you’ve been thinking about making the jump into homesteading in our community, now is the time. We are flush with great opportunities to really live and thrive in our communities. There are so many wonderful resources, literally outside our front door, to shop local, to support local. You don’t have to “do it all” on your homestead because there are so many farms and other smaller “farmsteads” that we can all support one another.

There are local businesses, too, that you can shop from, and you never have to visit the “land of plenty,” as I like to call the big-box and chain stores. I mean, you can visit the land of plenty for lots of things, but not necessarily to find ways to support your homesteading needs. Shop at the local hardware store, shop at the local grocery store, or at the local farm market. I like to shop at the farm market and get what I can there, and then head to the grocery store in town and finish up my shopping.

I also look for other ways to fill in gaps. I use a lot of milk in my day-to-day operations on the homestead (a dash in my morning coffee, four cups for making yogurt, a little in the freezer for making soap later, a gallon for making mozzarella) and I love raw milk. So, I found my local (legal) raw milk supplier. And the best part? He has a pickup system! Yes! I don’t have to think about it. Just send a note saying how many gallons I need and then a pickup time. Perfect.

There are so many ways to work with your local farmer or homesteader.  

What are some of those local resources? What exactly am I talking about? For starters, your local farm stand. (Remember how I said I’d talk more about that?) I think that when we start talking about eating locally and supporting our local farmers, sometimes we forget to think about those people who grow a garden and want to share the extra bounty with others.

You’ve seen those stands as you drive around the area. You might pass them and think “Oh, that’s such a cute stand. And they have lots of produce. But I don’t have time to stop today. Maybe next time.”

Dear reader, I would encourage you to take the extra few minutes and just stop! Support that person. They’ve worked hard to grow that garden. And trust me, it isn’t easy to grow a garden. It takes a lot of time and energy—and you need the weather to cooperate!

Not only do we have these cute farm stands sprinkled around our area, but we have farm markets! Oh boy, do we have the best farm markets or what? You’ve seen them. I bet you’ve been to them, too. Callicoon. Jeffersonville. Hancock. Barryville. These are only just a few of the wonderful resources we have. You can buy wine, cider, wooden bowls, flowers, produce, plants, cheese, meat, pasta, grains, soap, and other homemade goodies. You literally never have to step foot in a big-box store again, if you don’t want to. And besides, you have local, employee-owned grocery stores in your backyard. And let’s not forget about all the small shops along the main streets of our towns.

So, friends, now is a great time to be in our area. We have so many people moving here and wanting to live this idyllic life, but perhaps they don’t know how to get started. Let’s be the role models for them. Friends, meet your local farmer. Visit those farm stands. Hop on over to your local farm market and support the local grower, maker, homesteader. Don’t forget the small, local businesses! And then think about your homestead and how you can get started on your own cute little farm stand!

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