Strawberries, sweet corn, tomatoes, apples, squash, plums, melons, green beans, peppers, pumpkins and fresh herbs will soon fill gardens, fields, and orchards across Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier. Add local beef, poultry, maple syrup and honey, and locally-produced dairy products and you’re working toward complete meals comprised of the agricultural bounty of the Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga and Wyoming Counties.
The Northern Tier Buy Fresh Buy Local (NTBFBL) Local Food Guide has recently been released and is available to consumers who desire a more reliable food product and who understand that purchasing from local growers stimulates the region’s agricultural economy. Add to that the savings realized when similar products do not need to be imported from unknown sources, and Buy Fresh Buy Local becomes a win-win for everyone involved.
NTBFBL is a coalition of farmers markets, Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) programs, the Members Circle of long-term NTBFBL participants, and local restaurants and country stores. By knowing where one’s food is coming from, getting to know the growers, and picking up helpful tips along the way as to how to bring the most flavor and nutrition to the table, the NTBFBL booklet helps consumers chart their own road map to a healthier lifestyle and to sustain vibrant rural communities.
In addition to traditional garden fare, the Local Food Guide provides specific locations to purchase unique natural foods like hormone-free raw milk products and meats such as rabbit and goat that cannot be found in grocery stores, as well as items like flowers, hay, Christmas trees, ornamental plants, and quality organic soaps.
Producers and outlets for processed foods such as award-winning cheeses, sausage, pierogies, kielbasa, ice cream, jams and jellies, cider, and molasses, as well as compost, mulch, and quilts and shawls made from the fiber of locally-raised sheep and alpacas can be found among the Local Food Guide’s colorful pages.
The pamphlet also serves as a reference to grocery outlets where the produce from local growers can be found. Check out the list of area restaurants, bakeries, and farm stores that offer prepared food, breads, and desserts made from the seasonal offerings of local farms, as well as beer and wine. Many of the same shopping outlets offer hand-carved and turned woodwork, original paintings and other artwork and a bevy of homemade craft items.
For those seeking a truly hands-on, family-oriented agricultural experience, the Local Food Guide has a list of U-Pick farms. Pack the family into the car and head to a local blueberry or strawberry farm or pick your own cherries, apples, and other fruits in season.
Membership in a CSA is another way to bring an assortment of locally grown products home on a regular basis. Participating consumers pay in advance and share the risk and bounty of a farm, reaping a bag or box of produce for a set number of weeks throughout the growing season.
Many of the participating growers and shops in the Local Food Guide now have websites to help consumers browse and even order items in advance.
Northern Tier Buy Fresh Buy Local was recently taken under the wing of Endless Mountains Heritage Region, which is in the process of updating a local Farmers Markets guide and map for 2014 that will become available in the coming weeks.
Free copies of the NTBFBL Local Food Guide can be picked up at the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau on Route 6 west of Tunkhannock from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm from Monday to Friday or can be ordered via mail by calling the Visitors Bureau at 800-769-8999 or 570-836-5431 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
More information about opportunities with NTBFBL for local growers is available by contacting NTBuyFresh.BuyLocal@gmail.com.