by Gwen Allen
With all the worries and headlines about hormones, pesticides and preservatives, it is no surprise that a “healthy” demand for fresh food is on the rise.
Though gaining in popularity and shelf space, organics at the supermarket provide a healthy alternative, but at a price. Similarly, cultivating a garden comes with a cost, only it’s physical. This is a price too steep for some, who either end up back in the organic aisle for convenience or give up all together.
But there is no need to break the bank or even a back for a fresh plate of food, when it may be as easy as a click away.
In an attempt to “promote all aspects of agriculture and advocate good stewardship of our land and resources,â€ Kane County Farm Bureau compiled a list of farm markets throughout the county and put them all in one accessible place, www.kanecfb.com/bounty.html.
Visitors of the site will find locations, hours of operation and even a map to help plan a trip to more than 35 participating farms.
“This gives the public a source, 24 hours a day, for fresh produce and along with many other items offered by Kane County farmers,” said Steve Arnold, manager of Kane County Farm Bureau. “It’s also good because it helps local business (by keeping money local) and it is common knowledge that fresher produce has better flavor and higher nutritional value.”
With approximately 450,000 people in the county, Arnold said the website is an affordable way to educate the public of the “countyâ€™s wares”.
“We have been doing a directory of farmer markets for over 10 years (on paper), but adding it online sort of gave it a pizzazz,” Arnold said. “Now people don’t have to search for a piece of paper when they have a website in a usable format.”
Beyond produce, he said the site promotes all farmers who wish to sell from their farm.
“Any farm that sells direct to consumers (and is a member of the Farm Bureau) qualifies for the directory,” Arnold said. “From Christmas trees, apples, honey, straw, meat and eggs, consumers can find a little bit of everything. We want people to know there is a variety of agriculture in Kane County that is available to them.”
Like the Kane County Farm Bureau, the Illinois Department of Agriculture also provides a list of farmer’s markets; though some may not sell directly from the farm their product was produced.
“Some (vendors) are informal, where they just sell produce from a cart on a street corner, while others are more organized,” said Delayne Reeves, a marketing representative from the Illinois Department of Agriculture. “Most are community markets, where multiple vendors come together to sell. Some also sell crafts or anything else that they have produced or packaged within Illinois.”
With more than 350 listed vendors, the listing was designed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture to ultimately promote the specialty crop industry, while providing consumers with a healthy source of produce, Reeves said.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture’s website for farmer’s markets is www.agr.state.il.us/agrihappenings/farmers.php.