Shopping Local and Saving Land: What's the Connection?
The Delaware Highlands Conservancy is a land trust working in partnership with landowners and communities to protect the clean waters, healthy lands, and quality of life in the Upper Delaware region. As part of this conservation mission, we developed a program called Shop Local Save Land. Shop Local Save Land is a website and guide that provides comprehensive listings of our region's farms, farmers markets, and local farm businesses in order to connect residents and visitors to the area with locally grown and produced agricultural products.
So why would a land trust like the Conservancy focused on protecting land be invested in promoting shopping for local farm products?
As any local farmer will tell you, making a living from farming and from marketing local farm products is a huge challenge. The work is hard and the economy is harder. If farmers don't make a living income from farming, they can't maintain their land as agricultural lands. Under pressing economic concerns, acres of productive farmland get sold off to housing developments or industrial development.
If consumers are encouraged to support local farms and farm products, farmers will have the economic resources they need to maintain their farmlands as agricultural lands.
The whole community benefits when agricultural lands stay agricultural lands. Study after study shows that eating locally grown foods means eating healthier. Hills of rolling farmlands add to the scenic beauty of our region and bring visitors here who support not only locally produced farm products, but other local businesses as well. Farming is an integral part of our rural cultural heritage. Sustaining our agricultural lands means sustaining a rich and enduring part of our region's character and culture.
The Conservancy's conservation mission is an inclusive one focused on the goal of a healthy quality of life for everyone. We do not seek to protect land for the benefit of a few tourists or residents who like nice views. We seek to protect land and water because that means a healthy Upper Delaware community for everyone who lives and visits here, now and in the future. We encourage support of all our locally sustainable economies--farm, forest, and ecotourism--because vibrant clean local economies means our lands and waters will be healthier for everyone, now and for the long term.
For all of us who call the Upper Delaware region home or who visit here because we love the natural heritage and rural culture it has to offer, shopping local and saving land is an easy--and vital--connection to make.