I am hearing from a lot of local producers that they’ve got a glut of pumpkins and gourds this year. I’m also seeing a lot of great-looking ornamental corn, tiny pumpkins, pretty squash, and other great decorative fall produce.
The only problem is, a lot of those producers are having a hard time moving their lovely pumpkins, squash, corn, and gourds this year.
While some of that might be due to the poor economy (maybe fewer people are pulling out all the stops on decorating this year?), I would guess that a lot of folks are picking up their fall decorations shipped in from other regions and perhaps even other countries–maybe even some of the same folks who are buying their local food weekly at farmers markets.
Why is it important to buy produce that you’re not actually going to eat from local farmers? For pretty much all the same reasons you buy that local food–supporting local farmers for one. Building the local economy, for two. Encouraging good stewardship of your local and regional land resources for three.
You see, a lot of those local pumpkins, gourds, and ornamental corn are grown in the same soils as your local food. The time and energy investment in those decorative fall crops can be just as intensive as food crops, and the farmer relies on income from selling those crops just the same as income from food crops.
And while I don’t ever encourage our patrons to think of a farmers market as a place with 24/7 low-low prices, I have noticed that the prices on pumpkins, gourds, and other holiday produce are very competitive with those at the local groceries and the big box stores.
We at the Vermillion Area Farmers Market have just two weeks left in our regular season, with our last market on October 22nd–just a little over a week before Halloween. Many of those fall decoration crops keep very well, so you can stock up and be pretty darn confident that your decorations will last through the Thanksgiving holidays.
Won’t you support your local farmers and buy your holiday decorations from those same folks who bring you the great local food you’ve enjoyed all season?