We enjoyed celebrating the National Farmers Market Week from August 7-13! When we support local businesses and growers who manage healthy soils, we help support local soil health.
Shopping locally can help our ecological footprint, keeping our local air and waterways clean. Farmers markets offer a space to have conversations with a variety of soil health managers, like vegetable farmers, flower growers, and cattle ranchers.
John Montgomery, assistant manager of the Dorey Park Farmers Market, describes how farmers markets spark curiosity in shoppers.
"People come there with an open mind about buying local, supporting local, so it’s an almost automatic connection to say, 'Okay, what effect is it having locally?" Montgomery explains. "If you are going to support your local farmer, why? One of the reasons why is because they do practices that keep the local soil and the local air and the whole area more healthy and healthful for others."
He observed that these questions lead some shoppers to reflect on their own influence on soil health, particularly with lawn care.
"It's kind of educating by accident,” said Montgomery.
The Dorey Park Farmers Market in Henrico, Virginia hosts programs like the Virginia Fresh Match, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Power of Produce, and a Second Saturday Concert Series. On September 24, they will celebrate Native Plant Day at the Farmer’s Market with plant vendors and educational opportunities.
Farmers markets are a hub of connections. Shoppers are able to connect directly to local growers –typically growers within 400 miles of the market.
Duron Chavis, executive director of The Happily Natural Day, saw these connections while working at a farmers market in his early twenties. "We talked a lot about the importance of farming and how to farm," he said.
Chavis began his interdisciplinary and intersectional work by looking for strategies "to address…systemic issues around health in the Black community." He started to find solutions at the farmers market. "It was through that lens that I got involved with the farmers markets, we were connecting those farmers to formally red-lined neighborhoods in our community."
Watching the older generation of farmers work hard for their neighbors inspired Chavis. "I felt like it was really time for us to start getting our hands dirty," he said.
Even if you are not a producer, you can help energize the soil with diversity by enjoying different seasonal eats. Supporting the 4 core soil health principles can look like shopping from a wide range of producers who implement healthy soil practices.
When we focus on our surroundings, we become aware of what impacts our communities. Soil health not only impacts our food, but also our airways, waterways, environment, and creatures living above and below the soil.
Shopping at farmers markets can help support local soil health, local businesses, and community resilience. If you support and advocate for soil health in your area, take the pledge! You'll receive our bi-weekly newsletter with resources, upcoming events, and stories about fellow soil champions.
Featured Soil Champions
John Montgomery, assistant manager of the Dorey Park Farmers Market
Facebook: Dorey Park Farmers Market
Duron Chavis, executive director of The Happily Natural Day
Facebook: The Happily Natural Festival
Podcast Episode: 4 The Soil: A Conversation Episode 22-17
About the Blog
Join the movement! 4 The Soil is a campaign by the Virginia Soil Health Coalition to raise awareness of soil as an agricultural and natural resource. By caring for the soil, we can build healthier communities, stronger economies, and a more resilient landscape.