Sustainable Living by Shawn Dell Joyce

by Shawn Dell Joyce

The fact that Montgomery has a farmer’s market is a small miracle. The miracle worker in this case is Donna Dolan Jacke. Donna has a long history of community service, doing everything from assisting Marion Wild in the Montgomery Museum, to being a farmhand for hire to local farmers. About four years ago, Donna put the effort into making a farmer’s market happen every Friday in the Village of Montgomery.

The location has moved a few times to make farm market easily accessible. The Montgomery Seniors, a group that previously met at Wesley Hall, sponsors the market. That means that local seniors get coupons good for discounts on fresh produce, and the farm market proceeds are split with the seniors organization, a win/win situation.

The farm market has had a rough start. Donna thinks location has much to do with it. The Senior Center in Veteran’s Park was too far off the beaten path, and the old post office in the village downtown just doesn’t get much traffic. So, Donna is moving the market again, this time to a place near and dear to my heart.

Starting this Friday, the Montgomery Farmer’s Market will be at the Wallkill River School on Route 17K, all day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors can stop for home-baked breads, artisan cheeses, fresh vegetables, fruits, and handmade goodies including art and crafts.  You may catch artists mingling with farmers, sometimes painting the abundant displays. There’s always something fresh and interesting at a farmer’s market.

The Wallkill River School is the perfect place for a farmer’s market since the mission of this nonprofit artists cooperative is to preserve our region’s agricultural heritage while creating economic opportunity for local artists. It’s unusual for an arts organization to have agricultural preservation as part of it’s mission, but when you paint on local farms, and you eat local foods, you have a stake in keeping farmers in business.

When you buy direct from the farmer, you are establishing a time-honored connection between the eater and the grower. Knowing the farmers, you are connected to the seasons, the weather, and the miracle of raising food.  You also help preserve open space because as the value of direct-marketed fruits and vegetables increases, selling farmland for development becomes less likely.

Everyone who lives in the Wallkill Valley can appreciate the picturesque views of farms in full bloom, rows of corn ripening in the fields, cows lowing in the pastures. Our regional landscape will survive only as long as farms are financially viable. When you buy locally grown food, you are doing something proactive about preserving the agricultural landscape.

Supporting local farms also helps lower your village’s taxes. Farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas other development costs more than it generates in taxes, according to several studies. On average, for every $1 in revenue raised by residential development, governments must spend $1.17 on services, thus requiring higher taxes of all taxpayers. For each dollar of revenue raised by farm, forest, or open space, governments spend 34 cents on services.

If you need any more reason to come to the farm market and support your local farmers, please meet me at the Farmer’s Market on Fridays from 9 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Wallkill River School on Route 17K near Route 208. I’ll be happy to show you several more reasons why eating local is best for you and the community.

Shawn Dell Joyce is an award-winning syndicated newspaper columnist and director of the Wallkill River School in Montgomery.shawn@zestoforange.com

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