You may not think the subject of Farmers Markets has much to do with wildlife but you’d be surprised. First, let me tell you a bit about famers markets in general.
The idea behind a farmers market is simply to give local farmers a chance to sell their produce and/or meats directly to the public. This is great because often, this produce is organic, which means it was grown or raised without the use of chemicals, hormones or other not-so-natural elements. While the nutrition content of organic and conventionally grown produce is about the same, a lot of people prefer organic foods because the chemicals in pesticides, herbicides and other sprays can be harmful over time and may not come off completely after being washed.
Farmers markets offer a lot of local foods, which reduces the need to have the same items shipped to stores over great distances. This reduces the use of fuel, which is good for the environment. To put it simply, it is easier to buy tomatoes from a local farmer than it is to buy tomatoes that are grown from out of state.
Also, the selection of goods and foods at farmers markets is often greater than that of most supermarkets, especially during peak periods of the growing season. You can find a greater variety of meats, honey, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and even mushrooms at these farmers markets. It is often amazing to see what’s on hand. You can try things you’ve never had the chance to try before!
So where does this tie into our wildlife?
Well, the local bees benefit from local farmers! This means more flowers pollinated that will lead to more fruit and veggies. Not to mention, this could help strengthen the area bee populations as a whole, which have been struggling. Some farmers have man-made bee hives near their fields.
Recently, we at the Wildlife Educators Coalition have been touring the area Farmers Markets in Brighton, Pittsford, Charlotte, Churchville and Macedon. When I’d bring out our character, Swift the Fox, I would often teach folks not only how foxes hunt, but about some of the things foxes like to eat. Foxes are omnivores, which means they eat both animals and plants. A farmers market has a lot of the things a fox would like to eat. For example, many farmers and vendors have had strawberries for sale over the last few weeks, along with early season honey, fresh eggs and even ducks. Now that is some prime fox food! It was my hope that by having Swift teach this to families who were passing through the market, it would encourage them to perhaps purchase something from the farmers as well. We certainly ended up picking up a few items.
So check out your local farmers market! There is always something new there and produce changes with the passing of the seasons. And who knows, maybe you’ll see us there, too!
Until next time, stay tuned and stay wild!