Sustainable Food

Leon County plays an active role in the local food community in many ways, such as hosting the 2015 “Food for Us” Sustainable Communities Summit to foster communication and collaboration in the food movement, partnering with the City of Tallahassee and Sustainable Tallahassee for the “Year of Good Food” programming, and sponsoring the New Leaf Farm Tour!

Why does food factor into sustainability?

Everyone needs to eat, and like anything in life, there are always ways to do it more sustainably. Eating local strengthens the entire community, not just the food system. There are environmental, economic, health and equity concerns inherent in the food we eat, and the closer to home food originates, the easier it is to know how sustainable it is. In a local food system, farmers and small businesses are more invested in and can be held accountable for their impact on the community. Therefore, they are more likely to use practices that protect the environment. Farmers follow agricultural justice standards by providing fair labor conditions for workers. Plus the produce is fresher and more nutritious. So why not spend money within in the community?

Fun Fact:

A typical carrot travels 1,838 miles to reach the dinner table – from the farm where it was grown, to a processing plant, often to another plant for packaging, to the grocery store, and finally home to the dinner table.

Ways to Get Involved

Personal Involvement

  • Start a Home Garden
    No matter the space; there is a way to grow food at home. Whether it’s in a backyard, container or windowsill garden, Leon County has resources to help. The LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library System offers a Seed Library program that gives cardholders access to a variety of free seeds each season. The Leon County Cooperative Extension is available to answer any gardening questions, and hosts a number of workshops for gardeners of all skill levels.
  • Eat Seasonally
    Why do strawberries always taste better in the warmer months? Because strawberries are in season in spring and early summer. Eating seasonal produce means there’s less travel time between the farm and your plate, and less fossil fuels used in the process. The Red Hills Small Farm Alliance and Full Earth Farm created a helpful guide to eating seasonally.
  • Join, Start, or Volunteer at a Community Garden
    Community gardens offer the opportunity to grow food and socialize, while providing benefit to the community at the same time. Whether it’s support through the first growing season or a place to swap best practices with a neighbor, a garden has something to offer everyone. As an added bonus, community gardens help clean the air, and raise the property value of surrounding neighborhoods. For more information, visit the Community Garden page.
  • Buy a CSA share
    Through Community Supported Agriculture programs, buying a share in a farm means getting a bag of farm fresh produce every week for the whole season. Read more about CSA on Local Harvest.
  • Visit a Farmers Market
    There are multiple opportunities to buy farm fresh produce and local goods in Leon County, including the option to visit a farmer’s market online!
    • Downtown Market
      Marketplace featuring artists, crafters, food vendors, farmers, and musicians.
      March – November
      Saturday, 9 am – 2 pm
      115 E Park Ave, Tallahassee, FL 32303
      Check out the website or Tallahassee Downtown’s Facebook.
    • Frenchtown Farmers Market
      Local farmers, food artists, and producers sell their wares at this market, which is also the ONLY location to have centralized EBT access and where SNAP benefits (formerly “food stamps”) can be doubled through the Fresh Access Bucks Program.
      April - November
      Saturday, 9 am – 2 pm
      C524 North MLK Blvd
      More information on their website and Facebook page.
    • Lake Ella Growers Market
      Organic community growers’ market that just celebrated its 12th year.
      Year round
      Wednesday, 3 pm – dusk,
      229 Lake Ella Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32303
    • Red Hills Online Market (RHOM)
      Online market hosted by the Red Hills Small Farms Alliance that has a selection of local produce from over 60 farms updated weekly.
      Year round
      Sunday – Wednesday, order online or with the mobile app
      Thursday, order available for pick-up or delivery
      See the website or Facebook page for more details.
    • Tallahassee Farmers Market
      Market featuring local growers and resellers committed to high quality food and sustainable practices.
      Year round
      Saturday, 8 am – 4 pm
      Tuesday, 8 am – 4 pm, limited vendors
      Thursday, 8 am – 4 pm, limited vendors
      1415 Timberlane Rd, Tallahassee, FL 32312
      Find them on Facebook.
    • You Make It, You Grow It Market
      March - June, September - December
      2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month, 10 am – 3 pm
      Railroad Square Art Park (602 McDonnell Drive)
      See their Facebook page for more information.
  • Shop at a local co-op
    Co-ops combine access to local food with the convenience of a grocery store. Read Stronger Together’s Co-Op impact study here.
    Our community has two co-ops: New Leaf Market Co-op and Bread & Roses Co-op.
  • Preserve any extra produce to use in the winter
    Waste not, want not! Since Florida has mild climate, there is more selection of fresh produce, but our selection is still limited seasonally. To help offset the less bountiful harvests of the colder months, extra produce can be canned, frozen, dried, dehydrated, pickled – the options are endless! The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a wealth of information on their website and more resources are available below.
  • Eat at restaurants that source locally
    Whether it’s catching up with a friend over coffee, a forgotten packed lunch, or a celebratory dinner – eating out is inevitable. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of places that make an effort to source their produce locally:
    • Black Dog Cafe
    • Bread & Roses Kitchen
    • Catalina Cafe
    • Cypress
    • The Grain
    • Higher Taste Café
    • Indigo Bistro
    • Juicy Blue
    • Kool Beanz Café
    • Miccosukee Root Cellar
    • Sage
    • Soul Vegetarian
    • Sweet Pea Café
    • Tupelo’s Bakery & Cafe
    • Vertigo Burgers & Fries
    Consider encouraging restaurants not on the list to think about sourcing locally grown produce. The Green Restaurant Association has tips on how to approach the conversation as well as other resources about further greening your dining experience.
  • Compost food scraps
    Composting leftovers closes the loop of the food system, returning nutrients to the soil to grow more plants. Not only does composting help rebuild soil, it also saves space in the landfill. Find more information about composting on our Waste Reduction page.
    An easy way to compost at home is to feed those food scraps to worms – really! Not generating enough food waste and lack of space are common constraints to home composting. With vermicomposting, the worms do all the work. Give them a plastic bin and some food scraps, and they’ll churn out the highest quality plant food. Intrigued? Read this guide by Master Gardeners Ed Shroeder and Janis Piotrowski or this article by Extension Agent Molly Jameson.

Building Community

  • Get involved with the Tallahassee Food Network (TFN)
    TFN hosts Collards & Cornbread, which starts at 1:30 on the second Thursday of each month. Each gathering has a different topic. They also offer a variety of internship opportunities. Email tallahasseefoodnetwork@gmail.com or visit their website for more information.
  • Join Sustainable Tallahassee (ST)
    On the last Monday of every month, Sustainable Tallahassee hosts Green Drinks - not every month is about local food, but there is always information about how to be more sustainable. They have a number of committees working on different topics, several of which relate to increasing the viability of local food. Find out more on their website or by emailing your questions to admin@sustainabletallahassee.org.
  • Know your Farmer
    The Red Hills Small Farm Alliance (RHSFA) is the place to look for information about local farmers. For more details on becoming a member, volunteer opportunities, events, and newsletter sign up, visit their website or email smallfarmalliance@gmail.com.
    Additionally, the New Leaf Farm Tour, held each fall, provides an excellent opportunity to visit farms in the community and get a taste of farm life! Buy local food right off the farm, learn new things at a workshop, try a new local variety of your favorite vegetable… the possibilities are endless!
  • Make meals a community affair
    Shopping for, preparing, and eating food are all chances to build relationships. Use the time to learn, share, and teach others in the community.
  • Attend a local workshop
    The Leon County community is full of ways to broaden those horizons. Check out the workshops hosted by Native Nurseries, the Public Library, the Edible Gardening Club, or Tallahassee Area Permaculture Guild, to name a small few. Learn how to do anything from beekeeping to planting fruit trees, from saving seeds to cooking a nutritious meal.
  • Volunteer
    There are countless organizations in Leon County dedicated to ensuring everyone has access to good, healthy food. For example, Tallahassee Food Network and Sustainable Tallahassee have volunteer opportunities, as do United Way, Second Harvest, Whole Child Leon and Leon County Public Schools.

Resources

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NATIONAL

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