August 6, 2019 - 7:08am -- stone.91

What excites me in the summer, is a quick trip out to the garden to harvest a fresh tomato or two. Whether it is ultimately the “T” in a BLT; a plate of tomatoes and cheese drizzled with balsamic vinegar; or an apple-like experience of eating the tomato in hand with a dash of salt; these are things that I could never get enough of. While my love is tomatoes, other produce like peas, beans, carrots, potatoes and cukes rank a close second.

We are in the midst of Ohio’s Local Foods Week, and I need to ask, “how will you be celebrating?”. I like to eat and promote local food as often as I can, but this week adds a little something special. The purpose of the week is to showcase local producers and encourage Ohioans to think about where their food comes from.

So what does local mean to you? Local may mean your backyard, a community garden in the neighborhood, an urban farm, a CSA (community support agriculture) farm, or a more traditional rural farm. I have heard people refer to “local” as close as the backdoor, and as far as states away. While there is no one definition, it is a term that you can make your own.

Whether you grown your own, or shop locally, local food is usually fresher and lasts longer. It is also a way to support our local economy. Agriculture is Ohio’s number one industry contributing jobs for one in seven Ohioans, and more than $107 billion to the state's economy.

The next time you eat, think about where the food you are eating comes from. If the concept of local food interests you, it is a great time to explore and learn more. Ohio Proud helps consumers find food and agriculture products made and grown in the Buckeye State. There is a website www.ohioproud.org

Extension will be celebrating Local Foods throughout the week. Come out and see us at the Sylvania’s Farmers Market on Tuesday from 3:00 – 7:00 pm, Going Green on the Green at Hensville Park on Thursday from 3:00 – 7:00 pm, and the Toledo’s Farmers Market from 8:00 am – 2:00 pm on Saturday. We will also be celebrating with the youth at Sylvania Area Services Day Camp out in their garden midweek. Check out our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/OSUExtensionLucasCounty/ to see where “Lucas the Gnome” is celebrating the week.

If you are getting excited about celebrating, this may just take you over the edge. Thursday, August 8, is Sneak a Zucchini on your neighbors front porch. While zucchini has normally been producing hot and heavy and gardeners are getting their fill, this official gardeners’ holiday gives people a reason to share the zucchini joy. If you celebrate, snap a photo and share it with me. And beware – you might get sneaked!

Local weather ultimately can affect harvest dates from one year to another. Our wet and cool spring delayed some planting and the regular rain kept us out of the garden to address weeds and other garden pests. But even with all the rain, crops are beginning to reach maturity and we can all enjoy the fruits of the labor.

We encourage individuals, families, businesses and communities to grow, purchase, highlight and promote local food all the time but especially during this week. If you are looking to plan a celebration, here are some ideas to get started.

  • Stop by one of the numerous farmers markets in NW Ohio or SE Michigan.
  • Stop by a farm stand and buy directly from a farmer.
  • Don’t have a current garden, consider planning a fall garden with some on our cool season crops. Call the Extension office for more information on fall gardening

Let me know how you will celebrate Ohio Local Foods Week. Snap and share your photos and stories with us on Facebook or Twitter. #localfoodsOH.

This article appeared in the Toledo Blade's Garden Column written by Amy Stone, Extension Educator.