The Camden Herald editorial — May 17, 2012
Driving around the past few weeks and weekends, we couldn't help but notice numerous vehicles pulled over on the sides of roads and at farm and garden centers. Yard and garage sales seem to be attracting more traffic than ever, whether it be due to a tighter family budget or the thrill of a good deal, or the environmental benefits of reusing household items. A yard sale can be a great place to find something useful, like children's clothing, or something cool, like a painting. Whimsical or practical, reusing found items is beneficial for not only people, but the environment as well. There are numerous consignment shops throughout the Midcoast as well, offering everything from furniture to clothing.
While many frequenting farm and garden centers may be opting to dress up their yards with flowers and shrubs, any number of people are also venturing into the world of vegetable gardening. Maine people always have been self-sufficient but in recent years a surge in interest of more old fashioned practices is becoming the norm. Those without sufficient yard space chose container or community garden space to nurture their green thumb. Respondents to staff questions about planting a vegetable garden all answered in the affirmative, confirming our suspicions of a local increase in vegetable gardening.
Those with black thumbs, or no space for growing, could consider a farm share program — often called Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA — that allows local farmers to receive money up-front toward operating, planting and harvest costs and the customer to receive regular installments of fresh, locally-grown produce through the growing season. The idea of CSAs has been floating around for a few years and, so far, seems to be a success.
Many local restaurants also are following the trend of offering local foods, and have been doing so for years. Rather than pay for shipping costs from a far away farm, local options offer a more economical solution. Fuel costs are lower for local produce as well.
With advances in growing techniques, there is rarely a need to look outside the local sphere for items that used to be considered “specialty.” Another recent local trend in the Midcoast area is the emergence of small, family-owned wineries, butcher shops and bakeries in addition to family-owned general stores. When we say family-owned, we mean Mom, Dad and kids all working in the same store; or husband and wife; or siblings. It used to be people could pick up everything they needed in one place; those types of establishments seems to be making as much of a comeback as possible. While people can't expect to pick up a computer alongside a bottle of wine or some freshly grown corn due to huge technology advances, budgeting trips and planning ahead can only benefit people in the future by saving them money and decreasing their carbon footprint, which is very politically-correct these days, and environmentally-correct at all times.
People seem to be making use of talents learned as children and turning them into careers. Careers making jelly, salsa or bread may have been traditions passed along family lines. And whatever the reason behind the trend, we love it! It's been said everything old becomes new again, and this trend is one that should stick around.
Knowing where food comes from and decreasing fuel consumption are just two of the benefits of shopping local, eating local and being local.