Make local habit: be a local hero for your community
By Carley Dangona
The first time I stepped foot into the bustling scene that is Pike Place Market in Seattle, I stood like a deer in headlights. My senses were overwhelmed there were fish flying over my head; a rainbow of vibrant flowers lining the aisles; and restaurants permeated by the smell of fresh-cooked seafood. Being a journalist, naturally, my favorite stop is First & Pike News; however, I thoroughly enjoy every nook and cranny of the Pikes.
It was here that the "local" bug bit me. "Make Local Habit" is the phrase I'm accustomed to; recently, I learned firsthand the meaning of "Be a Local Hero, Buy Locally Grown," after exploring the Pioneer Valley.
Admittedly, I'm spoiled. The culture in Bend, Ore., has afforded me the privilege to shop at farmers' markets of 30 to 50 vendors, whose products include organic produce; environmentally friendly skincare products; handmade crafts; accessories made from llama and alpaca hair; wildflower arrangements; locally made wine; homemade jerky; and more.
After working on this issue of PRIME, I realized that there are many dedicated people in this area promoting local farmers, growers and crafters. This support benefits the local economy because goods are purchased directly from the source, or from retailers whose stock incorporates local goods.
To my surprise, upon entering Randall's Farm & Greenhouse, I felt as if I'd returned to Bend. The grounds were awash with colors and the atmosphere was both friendly and relaxed. By no means do I fancy myself a gardener, but walking around I felt the urge to dig in and start growing something!
It was at that moment I felt someone watching me I turned around and a little garden gnome was looking at me, as though he had heard the thought in my head, his smirk mocking my whimsical idea. Yes, I realize the gnome wasn't real and no, I didn't start gardening. Why not? Well, I have many talents, but a green thumb isn't one of them. Instead, I utilized another talent and photographed the breathtaking blossoms.
While there, I had the opportunity to speak with Karen Randall who, to say the very least, has a wealth of knowledge, and she was kind enough to impart some of it on me. We spoke about the history of Randall's and its evolution among the family generations during the past 50 years. She also explained the importance of local produce in the community.
Later in the day, I visited Atkins Country Market and again felt a sense of home as I entered the store. It was as if I had just stepped into Newport Avenue Market, a local Bend grocery store. I spoke with Pauline Lannon and other members of the staff about the importance of local products and the efforts Atkins makes to promote them.
From its humble beginnings as a fruit stand, Atkins has supported local farmers and continues to support local products today. Signs pepper the store, designating local products of all kinds to assist shoppers in choosing merchandise that directly support the local economy.
Granted, none of my experiences visiting sites in the Pioneer Valley were as dizzying as seeing fish "come alive" as they leap and soar through the air, landing in the skilled hands of a fishmonger; but, all served as reminders of home, re-instilling my love of the outdoors and open land.
Most importantly, this assignment reinforced the importance of buying local. Speaking with the very people who grow and produce the goods afforded me an in-depth understanding of how consumers directly impact their lives by making the conscious choice to purchase local goods.
In the words of LeVar Burton from "Reading Rainbow," "Of course, you don't have to take my word for it." Get out there! Go to your local farmers' market, country store or agricultural fair. Speak to the very people who supply the products and see for yourself how you can directly support them by making local habit.
See the "Happenings" section for a list of local framers' markets and agricultural events.