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Eat local: the Locavore Challenge

6:16 AM, Jul 3, 2012   |    comments
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CARROLLTON, Ga. -- You'll find Patricia Gladney behind a sign that reads "Farmers Fresh" in downtown Carrollton.

"We have some very interesting things," she said. "You're going to run into things that you probably never have."

Gladney is one of the forces behind a renewed push to eat local. She runs the Farmers Fresh Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Local famers drop off their goods at her Carrollton location, she pays them for the food, and subscribers pay her to deliver a CSA box of local food every week. Her delivery route includes drop-off locations in Atlanta and surrounding suburbs.

"I'm hoping people will see what I saw at my table, realizing how dependent we are on people we don't even know," Gladney said.

There are more than 50 different CSA groups serving the city of Atlanta. It's part of a growing movement to eat local, a trend that could change the face of farming.

"I certainly represent a younger generation of farming," Paul Feather said. He runs a small farm in Carroll County and delivers his produce to Farmers Fresh for distribution.

The USDA says for every one farmer under 25, there are five over 75. For years, leaders in the agriculture sector have been worried about the future of farming in America. Local food could hold some of those answers.

"Absolutely, there's increased interest and there's increasing numbers of young farmers," Feather said.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture tells 11Alive News the USDA is in the process of preparing for the 2012 Ag Census. The most recent stats are from 2007-2010. But they already show Georgia bucking the aging trend a bit.

There was a 7 percent increase in the number of farms with operators between the ages of 25 to 35. Most farmers under the age of 34 operate farms between 10 and 49 acres. These small to medium size farms are frequently the ones that benefit from active farmers' markets and CSAs.

This month, the interest in buying local could get a huge bump. Feather is part of a group that organized the Locavore Challenge. You can sign up for different levels, from "bite sized" (eating one local item a day) to "feast sized" (eating 90% local of everything).

"That kind of demand for local food, I think will create a resurgence in local food that's good for the local economy. It creates more jobs," Feather said.

He said they picked July because it's one month where it's easy to pay less buying local.

"One of the reasons that we chose to do the challenge in July is because local produce is actually quite plentiful. I've spent a lot of time doing price comparisons, and in July you tend to come out better at the farmers' market," he said.

If you sign up for the Locavore Challenge, we want to hear from you. E-mail 11Alive's Julie Wolfe at jwolfe@11alive.com with your tips. You can follow Julie as she tries to eat 90% local on Twitter @JulieWolfe and read her blogs on 11Alive.com through the month of July.

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