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Shop local, think global

Around the Harlem Valley, residents are preparing for summer. With that comes the fun, fresh experience almost all of us enjoy — shopping at our local farmers markets. Long a testament to the outdoor, open-air lifestyle so many in the region expound, farmers markets are a quintessential component of country living.

At the root of the farmers market experience — fresh produce, home-baked breads and other handmade goods — is one basic premise: eat local. 

Consuming local foods brings up another excellent goal: shop local. Both are crucial to the sustainability of our rural towns and villages. 

In the Harlem Valley, once dotted with dairy farms and other agricultural operations, many of us like the idea of living off the land. It’s part of why so many have moved here from the city or from other more densely-populated suburbs.

We need to support those trying to make a living through agriculture. It’s good for our economy, it’s good for our land. Locally, there are dozens of farms: vegetable farms and dairy farms, farms that raise cattle and farms that grow flowers. They can all use our business. Many farmers sell their goods at our local farmers markets. But even those who don’t still rely on our spending dollars to stay in business.

Consider that great adage: Shop local, think global.  Our actions today, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem, make a difference on the world in which we live.

Shopping locally helps our economy thrive. It also helps employ our friends and neighbors. It supports area businesses — ag related or not. It helps expand the tourism (and agri-tourism) trade. Just think of all those who shop in the village of Millerton before hitting the Harlem Valley Rail Trail — they ride, they shop, they eat, maybe they even catch a movie. 

Shopping locally also keeps tax dollars close at hand and strengthens our standing in the county and the state. A robust economy relies on our spending money close to home. Remember, every action has a reaction. Your buying lettuce from a farm stand helps pay for that farm’s operation, its workers and its land. Those workers are paid, and, in turn, spend their money locally. They register their children in our local schools and maybe even buy a home in the community. It’s cyclical. There’s no doubt about it, shopping local — for items big and small — helps grow a community. That goes for using local services, too. 

Tempted? Start small. Head to one of the many farmers markets open this summer. For more on those markets, and details of when and where to find them, read Carol Kneeland’s story on this week’s front page.