Where can I find local fall produce now that the farmers market season is over?

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Answered by: Amy, An Expert in the Local Foods - General Category
Even though the farmers markets have ended, there are still many ways to find local fall produce. First try some of your local health food stores; being local businesses themselves, they often desire to work with other local business owners and farmers to support the local economy. Therefore, they usually supply an abundance of locally-grown produce like pumpkins, apples, and potatoes throughout the fall season. If you do not have local stores, even the national chain Whole Foods Market has many choices. In Columbus, Ohio the local fall produce they offer includes apples, potatoes, onions, pumpkins, butternut squash, acorn squash, kale, collard greens, and even other local products like milk, eggs, cheese and flour. With the holidays coming up, many of these products could even be used to prepare Thanksgiving dinner.

Another way to find local fall produce is to go straight to the surrounding farms in your community. Although it may be a bit of a trip out to the country, it is a wonderful family outing to visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard, and the farms often have many more products for sale than just apples or pumpkins. You can make it a fun Saturday activity and stock up on many products while you are there so you do not have to make a long trip often, because a lot of fall produce, like potatoes, apples, onions, and pumpkins, have a long shelf life.

Many farms also offer CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) well into the fall as they are still harvesting and have an abundance of many crops. Each year or season, members in the community buy a membership into a CSA, and in exchange they receive a weekly share of whatever fruits and/or vegetables the farm produces. The benefits to joining a CSA are that you receive a large assortment of farm fresh produce that was picked when fully ripened, you get to know the people who are growing the food you eat, and you know how the food is being treated and grown. For example, if you are worried about pesticides, you may want to consider a organic CSA. However, one possible downside is that you never know how much the farm produces because of weather conditions, so what you receive may change on a weekly basis. You also may not get to choose all of your own produce, but it can be fun experimenting with new fruits and veggies.

One final option is that although outdoor farmers markets may not be open on a weekly basis in the fall, there may be a local indoor farmers market or special events featuring local products in your area from time to time. Try to keep an eye on local news and community events. Even doing a search online once a week can garner serious results. Searching for local fall produce can be tricky, but it is well worth the extra effort. Your produce will be fresher and more flavorful and you will be able to meet new friends while supporting your local community.

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