One of the benefits of living in the mild climate of the south is the long growing season for produce and foliage. Here in Brunswick County NC we are lucky to have a variety of large local farms, produce stands, and farmer markets where we can purchase “fresh picked” or “pick your own” veggies and fruits. There are also farms which will make weekly deliveries of their goods to your home. Strawberries which are in the fields now, kick off our growing season which follows up with an abundance of local summer produce through September and October. Whether you shop once a week or prefer to stop by the produce stand on the way home each night, purchasing fresh local veggies serves to provide more nutritious food for your family and helps support the farmers family and employees. So many of us talk about supporting local business like restaurants and boutiques and local farming should be added at the top of this list.

Since farming was a dying lifestyle for many years, it is exciting to see a revival with the trend of local sustainable farming. Veggies and fruits are typically what we think about buying at a produce stand or farmers market however more and more local meats, dairy products, health and beauty products and even wines are being offered. There is a national growing concern about food contaminates, genetically modified foods and inhumanely raised and overly medicated livestock in our food systems. The best way to know what is in your food is to know where it came from. Buying directly from the farmer is the best way to determine the origin of the food but this also gives us all an educational opportunity to learn about the process and importance of terms that might be new to you. Signs and labels say things like organic, Non-GMO, humanely raised, grass-fed, heirloom or heritage breeds, just what does all of this mean to us consumers looking for the best product and are willing to pay for what we want verses what is on the shelf in the stores. Grocery shopping should be a much more involved task these days as reading labels and recognizing symbols on packaging is necessary. Not only are people concerned with the ingredients and origin of foods, but society is demanding more nutritious, accessible options for reasonable prices.

Some of the options for finding these local products without driving to a Wholefoods Market, will be your local farmers. Trips to these local farms can be very exciting for the whole family. Take the kids to see the farm animals, some even have petting yards, tours, education classes, volunteer opportunities as well as the shops, restaurants, dairies and bakeries.

Some of the local options here in Brunswick County are Holden Brothers Farm on Highway 17 in Ocean Isle Beach, Prospect Farms at Ludlums in Holden Beach, Sheldon Herb Farm in Leland and if you are looking specifically for organic produce, dairy products, eggs and more, Greenland Farm on Midway Road in Bolivia has a terrific on-site store as well as events and tours. You can also check out Carolina Farming for wholesale options.

NC Farm Fresh is a website dedicated to local sustainable farms and has a complete list of farms and farmers markets in North Carolina.

If you are interested in learning more about sustainable farming practices and benefits, The North Carolina Farm Stewardship website contains a lot of very informative information as well as ways you can get involved in this growing movement.