Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Local is the New Black: the Joy of Guilt Free Shopping

I’ve had to push aside the pleasures of shopping for a while now, forced to forgo trips to the mall in pursuit of more important priorities like saving money. But this weekend I went on a mini-spree, and I have to say it was the most fun I’ve had shopping in years! And no, I wasn't shopping for shoes or clothes. This weekend I went shopping for tomato plants at Valley View Farms, a great garden center here in Maryland.

There I was enthralled by two dozen varieties of tomatoes, and hundreds of other plants from herbs to fruit trees, all started by professional growers here in the area. I whiled away several hours taking it all in. As a first time gardener and a person who enjoys the occasional good shopping trip, I felt like I had found redemption in this difficult economy. Buying seeds and plants is fun! And it turns out buying them local is even more fun. During my visit something occurred to me: Local is the new black! And I don't mean black as in the darkest color, I mean black as "in the black".

I started hearing the Buy Local manatra about a decade ago in California, and now it seems everywhere I look there are Buy Local posters. They fly like flags on the walls of every small business I wander into. Here in my neighborhood in North Baltimore is another great local resource at Belvadere Square. Planet Produce sells seeds from Landreth (the country's oldest seed company based on the east coast) as well as seedlings for a dozen different culinary herbs and several varieties of tomato plants too. Tomatoes grow exceptionally well in the hot Maryland summers. If you get your plants while they're still small you can thread them through the bottom of a hanging container. They love being upside down!

Anyway, when I patronize local businesses, I know I'm keeping money in the neighborhood. I'm helping my neighbors do good work, and I'm encouraging more jobs, right here. Plus, I know there is nothing better for the environment than when I buy local food or grow my own. Most of all, buying plants is as much fun as buying clothes but a lot more rewarding and certainly lighter on my wallet. I'm hooked on this guilt free shopping!

BTW – Veggie Trader is more than just a website for gardeners and those looking for local food. If you’re a local shop selling seeds, plants, tools, supplies or even local produce, you can use Veggie Trader for free local advertising. Just make a listing!

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