Monday, July 27, 2015 | By EarthShare | No Comments
3 Reasons Your Farmers Market Rocks
Photo: Erica Flock
Guest post by Robert Connelly, Manager of Membership & Special Gifts at American Farmland Trust
I haven’t always been a farmers marketeer.
Growing up in North Carolina my family never really went to the farmers market.
In fact, I remember as a kid thinking it was kind of odd that our neighbors, The Andersons, went every Saturday morning.
Looking back, I realize that the Anderson family was on to something amazing.
Over the last eight years, interest in local food and farmers markets has grown. According to USDA, consumers have more opportunities than ever to purchase food directly from farmers — with 8,268 farmers markets operating nationwide in 2014 – up 180 percent since 2006.
And, the interest is driven by us – the consumer! Our communities’ interest in farmers markets is a direct result of our growing concern for local family farmers, the environment, access to healthy foods, and our local economy. I’ve been trying to coin the phrase “Keep it local-tastic!” around AFT’s national office.
Here are three reasons why supporting your local farmers market can be one of the best choices you make for yourself and your community.
Your family farmers stay in business: Family farmers selling at farmers markets have almost a 10 percent greater chance at staying in business when compared to those just selling through traditional channels.
Your community grows: Businesses near farmers markets report higher sales on market days – supporting the local economy and generating extra tax revenue in the community. That’s money often re-invested back into the businesses and community.
More cash money in your pocket: In a recent report by USDA, farmers market shoppers save on average nearly 25 percent on food annually – when compared to shopping at grocery stores. This means more money in your pocket to go buy those shoes you’ve been eyeing, or finally spring for that Apple Watch. (One can dream.)
If these sound appealing to you, head over to our national Farmers Market Celebration, happening at markets.farmland.org. Find a farmers market near you, endorse it as one of your favorites, and tell us why it’s special to you and your community. At the end of the summer, we’ll give away awards to the best of America’s farmers markets. I look forward to seeing what makes your farmers market notable.
As always, keep it local-tastic!
Monday, July 27, 2015 | By EarthShare | No Comments
5 New American Rail-Trails
Courtesy City of Pickens
Guest post by Amy Kapp, Editor-in-Chief, Rails to Trails magazine. EarthShare member Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is dedicated to connecting people and communities by creating a nationwide network of public trails, many from former rail lines and connecting corridors.
When the rail-trail movement was in its infancy in the mid-1980s, there were approximately 250 miles of open rail-trails. Today, there are more than 22,000 miles, and more than 8,000 miles of projects are waiting to be built.
Running through urban, suburban and rural communities, rail-trails are used by tens of millions of people each year—for walking, biking, running and community engagement—increasing human mobility, protecting natural resources and wildlife, improving public health and sparking outdoor tourism and stewardship.
Here is a quick look at five new rail-trails across the country.
The 606, Chicago, Illinois—A New Town Square
life is good (pete) via Flickr CC
In June 2015, the Windy City welcomed its new 2.7-mile elevated trail, The 606, a $95 million project in the northwest that is expected to become a signature public space similar to New York City’s High Line. Composed of a multi-purpose concrete cycling path and a parallel soft-surface walking/running track, the trail runs above four neighborhoods at an elevation of approximately 16 feet. The Trust for Public Land, the trail’s project manager, is raising $45 million in private donations to fund access parks, trail landscaping, public art, maintenance and security.
Jones Valley Trail, Alabama—Cultural Links
Zac Napier FWLT 2015
Stretching along 1st Avenue south from 25th Street to 32nd Street (near the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark) in downtown Birmingham, this paved, tree-lined trail is part of an exciting trail awakening in Alabama. Though short for a rail-trail at just 0.6 mile, the trail will eventually merge with the developing Rotary Trail, a $4.5 million project extending from Railroad Park. This 19-acre green space comprises a historically rich civic and cultural venue that connects downtown with the Southside and University of Alabama at Birmingham campus. The trail is also part of the 750-mile Red Rock and Ridge Valley Trail system that is transforming Jefferson County.
Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee Trail, Michigan—Expanding a Network
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
October 2014 saw the opening of the 42-mile Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee Trail—a major milestone in Michigan’s growing rail-trail network. The 125-mile Fred Meijer regional trail network through Midwest Michigan also includes the 22-mile Flat River Valley Rail Trail, the 16-mile Grand River Valley Rail Trail and the 41-mile Heartland Trail. Spanning seven communities in three rural counties, the CIS Trail crosses nine bridges and trestles and showcases beautiful river, farm and woodland landscapes—as well a replica train station in Pewamo and the Clinton Northern Railway Museum in St. Johns.
Doodle Rail Trail, South Carolina—Connecting Communities
Holly Corbett via TrailLink.com
Traveling between Easley and Pickens in South Carolina just became easier with the opening of the 7.3-mile Doodle Rail Trail. Though bare bones at present in terms of amenities, the $2.4-million project provides an easy paved surface, two wooden bridges and diverse landscapes for individuals to travel safely and conveniently from city to city. Unique fact: First opened in 1898, the original Doodle Line railroad received its name because it ran backwards like a doodlebug between Pickens and Easley because of its inability to turn around.
Manitou Incline, Colorado—Health Meets History
Samat Jain via Flickr CC
This 1-mile rail-trail, which starts in Manitou Springs, has seen plenty of action since (and before) it became a legal trail in 2013, but flood damage forced its closing in August 2014. Climbing approximately 2,000 feet up the side of Pikes Peak—a National Historic Landmark—and boasting railroad ties as steps, the trail’s corridor was originally completed in 1907 to support construction of a hydroelectric plant and water pipeline, and later became a tourist attraction. After a $1.5 million overhaul, the Manitou Incline rail-trail reopened to the public in December 2014. At 40 percent grade, the trail is considered one of the most physically challenging hikes in the area—but the “breathtaking” views from the top make it worth the effort.