Creating Community One Vegetable at a Time: Farmer's Markets Are Becoming a Way of Life All Over New York

Farmers market's are creating outlets for the organic farms that are fueling the "farm to table" movement of the past decade. Local residents anywhere from the upper West Side, to Brooklyn to Upstate New York, can be seen at these pop-up markets, strolling around with their families, collecting the local bounty that is part of a creative movement not only in what we eat but the way we eat it and buy it.

The foodies of the baby boomer's kids are taking over the world of eating with the same fervor and intelligence that their parents took to politics. "Think global, act local" it turns out can be about food as well as political agendas; in fact food has its own politics in the way we eat it, the way we grow it and the way we deliver it. These wonderful, aromatic and beautiful markets are a throwback to the way people lived before supermarkets started to dictate how we ate. They create an old-fashioned, intergenerational marketplace that brings people together around one of our most fundamental needs and pleasures -- food. They are not only good for the body but good for the soul. For starters anyone can come, there is no price of admission and there is something to please everyone and every generation.

The Farmer's Market in Pawling New York, for example, has become a sort of Saturday morning event in the life of the community. Kids can visit the animals in the petting zoo with one parent while the other wanders through both very local and very chic eats; from ruby red tomatoes, local corn and fresh blue berries to micro greens and designer kale. Bunches of sunflowers are there to grab and take home along with bouquets of wild flowers, there is something to please the eye as well as the palate. And the fun doesn't end there, there's live music each week by local musicians where older folks from the community can tap their feet as the little ones bounce around and twirl to the music. The Pawling Farmer's Market season is also loaded with special events, anything from a local juggler to "Nick the Knife" who spends the morning sharpening the knives that have been sitting in your drawers for years that you can't quite throw away. "It's like a party every week," says a local resident. "I come here to stock up on healthy everything and I connect with all my friends. It's great, it brings us together in such an easy way. And our kids love it, they wouldn't miss it."

For local folks from Pawling and Quaker Hill the market has become both a place where they can stock up for the week on the highest quality, organic produce and get fantastic bread from Wave Hill Breads while enjoying a full-out weekly social event.

Terry Crowe Deegan was moved to start a Farmer's Market in Pawling, New York after setting out one day to visit a neighboring town's market, that she never found. That experience of getting lost in winding country roads set the wheels in motion. Deegan, a Garden & Gun magazine sales executive, realized that Pawling's new green was crying out for use, and its central Hudson Valley location with deep agricultural roots made it a perfect spot for a farmer's market. The Pawling Green was a long-term community driven project to create green space in the center of what locals refer to as "the village." Deegan's vision has brought the green alive. It's difficult to imagine looking at how successful the market has become today that it was ever the fledging effort that is was, it's hard to picture it not being a part of the life of the town. By no means an overnight success, this market has been a labor of love by it's dedicated organizers and the board that they have formed.

Why Quality Food and Quality Connections Make for Health

Not only are you what you eat, it turns out, but you're also what you think and do. While the jury is certainly in as far as connecting good, wholesome food and exercise to good health, more recent research is revealing the strong connection between health and relationships or community.
Smoking and poor eating and exercise habits alone accounted for 700,000 premature deaths in 1990 says David Katz, M.D. in Prevention Magazine's article "Mom was Right You are What You Eat".

In 2004, a group of scientists at the CDC revisited this issue in JAMA and came to the same conclusion. This time, however, the toll from eating badly had gone up, due to obesity and diabetes.

But relationships too can be a predictor of both health and longevity.

According to The Harvard Health Publications, a relative lack of social ties is associated with depression and later-life cognitive decline, as well as with increased mortality.

One study, which examined data from more than 309,000 people, found that lack of strong relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50 percent -- an effect on mortality risk roughly comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and greater than obesity and physical inactivity.

So bless these farmer's markets that create community, fun, cottage industries talking and walking (an alpha form of exercise) for the whole family and the whole community. These grassroots events create connection, good will and good health all in one fell swoop.