New Year’s is all about turning over a new leaf or coming at old passions with a renewed vigor. No matter if local food has been in your life for years of if it’s just now on your radar, if you’re looking to support local and sustainable agriculture in the new year, there are many things you can do.
- Buy as local as you can
Start simple: you already go to the grocery store and out to eat. Now, start making choices that align with “local.” Some local grocery store chains may feature local produce or value-added-products for you to choose from, like Kroger and Whole Foods. Many Houston-area restaurants also choose to support local farmers which means all your meals will be prepared sustainably and local friendly. Real Food Houston has an entire list of locally-sourced places to eat out!
- Go to farmer’s markets.
If you want to venture out from the grocery store, your local farmer’s market will have a variety of seasonal and sustainable foods for you to choose from. Plus, you get to meet the very people who grow your food! To find your local farmer’s markets, check out this list compiled by the USDA.
- Join a CSA.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs deliver boxes of fresh, local produce to drop points near you. Most CSAs deliver weekly, so you never have to worry about running out. A few CSAs you can choose from here in Houston are Loam Agronomics, Wood Duck Farm, Farmhouse Delivery, and Sown & Grown. At Blackwood, we also plan on launching our own CSA soon!
- Support school and community gardens.
These promote healthy living for everyone in your community and instill a love and importance of where our food comes from in people of all ages. Donate your time, your money, or even help spread the word about community gardens in your area. The City of Houston has a list of all the community gardens here. Want to start a garden in your ‘hood? Reach out to your civic club and/or council member to let them know!
- Vote to support sustainable agriculture.
No matter the scale of the election, every time you vote is an important time to make your voice heard in support of local and sustainable agriculture as both an economic and lifestyle choice. The Houston Food Policy Workgroup is a great organization to familiarize yourself with if you want to make an impact on food policy.
- Plant a pollinator-friendly flower garden.
Pollinators, from bees to butterflies to hummingbirds, make all of our produce possible. Planting pollinator-friendly not only brightens up your lawn, but gives insects and birds a place to rest as they continue on making all of our flora possible. You don’t have to be a beekeeper or hummingbird tamer to make a huge impact. Giving them a place to land goes a long way! The Native Plant Society of Texas is a great resource to help you start your own pollinator garden.
- Don’t spray chemicals in your yard.
We often think only our property is affected when we use chemicals like pesticides and herbicides, but chemicals can blow away in the wind or seep into the ground. Opt for sustainable solutions instead. There are many local businesses that provide this service like Sustainable Pest and The Green Pest Guys.
- Grow your own food.
No matter if you have a huge garden or the perfect empty windowsill, you have the space to grow a little something for yourself. You will not just be supporting sustainable and local agriculture, you’ll actually be practicing it. Urban Harvest has loads of classes across the Houston Area to help you get started!
- Cook at home.
Buying local is a great first step, but make sure to use those delicious and nutritious local foods in your meals. Sustainable Table has a lot of great recipes for inspiration.
- Share with your friends.
Farming is all about community, so this is definitely our favorite part. If your orange tree is ready to be picked, share a few fruits with coworkers at the office. Invite your friends to volunteer with you on a Blackwood volunteer day. Host a dinner for the family and serve a home cooked meal all made with food from the Farmer’s Market. The possibilities are endless!