Along about this time of the year, many of us develop an "itch."
That is the itch to get out in the yard and garden and get some plants, shrubs and seeds planted. And one of the advantages we have in our area is a number of small, local greenhouses and nurseries that provide quality plants and shrubs.
When we go to these local growers, we are not only buying quality plants, but we are helping our local economy. Money spent at a local greenhouse stays in the area and helps in several ways. More important is the fact that locally grown plants are adapted to our growing conditions in this part of Ohio. We do have weather unique to our own area and locally grown plants are already adapted to those conditions.
Then if you need help or advice on what to buy, local growers are always ready to help. They know their plants and this area and can give that personal service that we all enjoy.
Going into one of the local greenhouses or nurseries is always a thrill. To see all the beautiful flowers or healthy vegetable plants ready for the planting is a sight to enjoy. A word of caution is needed, though, because all those plants will look great in our gardens or yards, and there is a temptation to buy more than we have the energy to plant.
If you do buy too many, you can always share with a friendly neighbor. That way you have a chance to visit and catch up on all the winter's activities.
When early or mid-summer rolls around, farmer's markets will be setting up shop. Here again you have an opportunity to buy fresh vegetables and fruits grown right here in our area. You have the advantages of quality and freshness, and most of the marketers are good at helping you select what you want. Some of them also enjoy chewing the fat with you.
Growing and buying locally does have many advantages, and we should support our growers and our local economy. A directory of local growers that includes not only greenhouses and nurseries but vegetable farms, tree fruit orchards and others would be nice to have. This directory could help buyers find what they want close to home and tell them where others are located that may have some different plants, fruits or vegetables. Perhaps this is something the local industry will develop as numbers grow.
While the idea of growing and buying locally is good, we need to realize that we cannot grow all we need to feed our population within a short distance. The larger, commercial fruit and vegetable growers from other parts of the country are essential. Our local fruit and vegetable production is seasonal and can't provide what we need and want.
Then food stores need huge quantities fresh fruits and vegetables the year round to satisfy our demand. So far, locally grown products are not in a position to provide the quantities in the quality that is needed.
Today's commercial agriculture is essential for feeding our nation by providing the amounts we require. If we wanted all our food to be grown locally, then 50 to 60 percent of us will need to go back to the farm.
Then we would need to learn again how to can, freeze, dry and store our products to carry us through the seasons when we don't have fresh vegetables and fruits. Some will say that would be good, but most of us aren't ready to go back 60 or 75 years ago.
Yes, support local growers and our local economy. At the same time remember our larger, local commercial farmers provide essential food in an abundance we all enjoy. Support and work with them also.
Parker grew up in Trumbull County, works with the local Farm Bureau Board and is an independent writer for the Tribune.