By Nancy Smorch
At least twice a week, I go to Sugartree Farms here in Ocala, Florida for their fresh produce. One of the big things I missed about Michigan summers is the fresh fruits and vegetables - the produce at the stores doesn't even come close to fresh produce grown in West Michigan.
But this year I am making more of an effort to connect with some local farmers. I have found that not only does that make me feel more empowered, it helps keep the spark and excitement alive when it comes to cooking. This year, I decided that, rather than complaining about the lack of good food here in Ocala, I would focus on seeking out more sources of good food (rather than waiting for it to magically show up). It does take longer to get that food, but the relationships I'm creating by meeting the people who are growing the food makes it all worthwhile. And, it feels good to visit the farm where our food comes from and meet the people growing it and to share ideas. It makes me feel like we're all working together to make the world a little better!
I've also started my own little container garden. I've already picked a few fresh strawberries which have been delicious. I have some herbs for adding flavor to meals. And, in a couple of months I will have plenty of tomatoes as my tomato plants continue to develop. I'm feeling pretty good about the food here now, and I'm looking forward to meeting more local farmers in the near future, like the goat farm not too far away that make their own goat cheese and feta cheese, and the handful of farmers who sell milk and other great food!