Shopping at farmers markets and grocery stores like Lucky’s that sell local goods is not the only way to bring fresh, local food into your home. Gainesville offers the locavore community two other alternatives. The other major ways to supply a locavore’s diet in Gainesville are community gardens and a program called Community Sponsored Agriculture, also called CSA.
Community gardens are large spaces of land set aside for members of a community to use to grow their own vegetables. It is often difficult to find a space in an urban or suburban area that is large enough to grow a personal garden. Community gardens help people by giving them a plot of land so that those who want to grow their own food can do so even though they might not have the available space at their own home. These public, outdoor spaces help promote healthy living and make places to grow fresh, local food accessible. If the desire to grow your own food is there, the gardens are here to help make it a reality.
Gainesville offers many community gardens. The City of Gainesville’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department has created five gardens throughout the city. The Grove Street Neighborhood Community Garden, the Green Acres Park Community Garden, McRorie Community Garden, the NE 31st Ave. Community Garden and the SW 40th Place and SW 30th Terrace Community Garden are all places to look into when searching for a nearby community garden.
Community Sponsored Agriculture is another way to get local food. CSAs help city residents get direct, reliable access to locally grown food by developing a mutually beneficial relationship between farmer and consumer. Becoming a member of a CSA involves purchasing a share of a local farmer’s harvest. Consumers pay an upfront fee for the entire growing season, and in return the farmer will deliver the share of food to a convenient pickup location on a regular basis. Every CSA is run slightly differently, but many offer deals that include goods from other local farms and offer a few order sizes.
CSAs create a relationship between local consumers and local farmers. They help people establish a connection to their community through food and offer a dependable source of fresh food. It is common to see CSAs advertising at farmers markets, but a list of many of the ones near Gainesville can be found online.
When debating whether or not to sign up for a CSA, remember that they revolve around the growing season and all shares are sold before the harvest begins. This allows the farmer to properly plan out how large each share is. Joining a CSA is a commitment to a local farmer and to the community.
Locavores have many options when it comes to obtaining food, and researching the lesser-known available local food sources is important when planning out food purchases.