A local market that sustains

Apr. 19, 2014 @ 11:25 AM

As many of us celebrate Easter and Passover this week, the South Durham Farmers’ Market (SDFM) is preparing for another celebration, Earth Day. We are happy to observe this holiday, which closely aligns with one of our goals as an organization: to support sustainable agriculture and a healthy local environment. To that end, we select our vendors and operate our market in such a way as to make it easier for our shoppers to go green.

One of the oft cited reasons for buying local is that such a choice reduces carbon emissions by cutting the miles traveled by gas guzzling refrigerated trucks, planes or ships. This is certainly true of the food at the SDFM, which is all produced within 50 miles of the market location. However, our farmers’ commitment to sustainable practices has a far greater effect on the environment, particularly that of Durham and its environs.

To restore and preserve the long-term health of their land, the farmers of the SDFM are dedicated to using natural methods to manage their pests, weeds and plant diseases. By shopping the SDFM, customers are directly supporting agricultural systems that reduce the fertilizers, pesticides and other toxins that accumulate in our soils, waterways and wildlife. The same can be said of our livestock farmers, who manage their flocks and herds using practices that preserve pasture and protect our waterways from waste runoff. 

Additionally, all of our vendors eschew large-scale monoculture in favor of growing or raising many varieties of vegetables and breeds of animals, including rare heritage types. In doing so, they help support genetic diversity, increasing the resilience of the local agricultural system in the face of varying conditions and threats.

Shopping at the farmers’ market also makes it easier to reduce waste, as the produce has minimal to no packaging, and we strongly encourage customers to bring their own bags. To further reduce waste, we use compostable bowls and utensils for our cooking demonstrations, and we have hosted vermicomposting workshops to embolden customers to compost at home. This year, we are happy to welcome a new vendor, New Soil Vermicomposting, who sells all the tools you need to compost at home.

This Saturday, April 26th, we will celebrate Earth Day with plant and seed giveaways and a birdfeeder craft for the kids. Plus, we will be collecting plastic film and bags to support “Don’t Waste Durham” in their goal to collect enough plastic for a park bench to donate to a local community space.

Happy Earth Day Durham!

Elizabeth Zander is market manager for the South Durham Farmers’ Market, open 8 a.m. noon each Saturday at Greenwood Commons Shopping Center, 5410 NC Highway 55.