Increasing numbers of consumers like buying locally grown foods and getting to know their producers. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever for consumers to connect with growers outside the traditional grocery store system.
One great way to connect with local growers is to meet and talk with them at a farmers’ market. See page 1 of this issue for a list of farmers’ markets in Lancaster County.
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) has made it simple to find markets in other areas through their online Farmers Market and Produce Vendor database. Choose a city or county from the database and it will show you all the markets in that area, along with the markets hours of operation. You can also search for individual growers by city or county.
Community Supported Agriculture
Some growers sell directly to their customers following a community supported agriculture (CSA) business model. This allows customers to purchase a share of the farm’s produce, providing funds for farm labor and expenses. When harvest begins, customers get their share of the farm’s yields. CSA customers also shoulder some of the farm’s risk. If some crops don’t do well, then customers get less of that produce at harvest.
Farms vary on what is considered a “share”, but usually it’s a weekly variety of produce, either delivered to the customer or picked up at the farm, for a set number of weeks during summer. Many farms offer half-shares or bi-weekly shares for small families. Customers don’t get to pick what produce is included in their weekly basket, which gives them the opportunity to try new vegetables.
Some have additional offerings, which can be added to a basic share like herbs, eggs and cheese, or extra produce for canning.
Nebraska is also home to two food cooperatives – the Nebraska Food Cooperative and Lone Tree Foods. Both cooperatives connect growers and buyers through their year-round, online farmers market and food distribution system.
Find them online at:
Anyone can become a member and have year-round access to a wide variety of locally produced food, including eggs, cheese, meat, organic flour and popcorn, baked goods, herbs, and fresh produce. Organic, all natural, and grass-fed options are available. Shop from multiple producers to compare prices, types, and the production practices used by each producer to find a product that meets your needs.