Why Supporting Local Businesses is More Important Than Ever: Let’s Look at The 3/50 Project & How You Can Participate!

I am a huge advocate for supporting local businesses. You will see me out & about every week posting about a local business wherever I go. As an entrepreneur, I completely understand the importance of small businesses supporting one another!

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on businesses globally. Small businesses, in particular, have been hit hard, and many have had to close their doors permanently. This has left many communities without the local businesses that they rely on for goods and services.

Supporting local businesses is more important than ever before. When we shop locally, we’re not only supporting the local economy, but we’re also creating jobs and promoting a sense of community. The 3/50 Project is a simple yet powerful initiative that encourages consumers to support their local businesses by spending $50 at three local businesses each month. In this article, we’ll explore why supporting local businesses is so important and take a closer look at the 3/50 Project.

The Dearborn Shop

This is Jacob & Lizzie, and they are the Owners of The Dearborn Shop. They started out as vendors of mine at The Dearborn Farmers & Artisans Market back in 2020. Now, with the support of the local community and other entrepreneurs, they were able to open this beautiful shop up in the heart of West Dearborn, Michigan. They help support other entrepreneurs by offering goods crafted by several other small business owners… including me! You can find my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats and Treats in this beautiful shop. Be sure to tell ’em Jean sent you!

The Importance of Supporting Local Businesses

There are many reasons why supporting local businesses is essential. Firstly, when we shop locally, we’re supporting the local economy. When we spend money at a local business, that money stays within the community, creating a ripple effect that benefits everyone. Local businesses are also more likely to source their goods and services from other local businesses, further boosting the local economy.

Secondly, supporting local businesses helps create jobs. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, and when they thrive, they create jobs for local people. By supporting local businesses, we’re helping to create jobs and keep our communities strong.

Finally, shopping locally promotes a sense of community. Local businesses are owned and operated by people who live in the community. When we shop locally, we’re supporting our neighbors and helping to create a sense of community pride. Local businesses also often support community initiatives, such as local sports teams or charities, helping to strengthen the fabric of the community.

How the 3/50 Project Works

The 3/50 Project is a simple initiative that encourages consumers to support their local businesses. The idea is to spend $50 at three local businesses each month. This may not sound like a lot, but it can make a significant difference to small businesses.

To get involved in the 3/50 Project, all you need to do is choose three local businesses that you want to support. It could be your favorite coffee shop, a local boutique, or a family-owned restaurant. The idea is to spend $50 across these three businesses each month. You can choose different businesses each month or stick with the same ones.

The 3/50 Project has a website where you can find local businesses to support. You can search by zip code or city and find a list of participating businesses in your area. You can also use social media to share your support for local businesses and encourage others to get involved.

The Impact of Supporting Local Businesses

The impact of supporting local businesses is significant. When we shop locally, we’re helping to create jobs, boost the local economy, and promote a sense of community. Here are some stats and facts that demonstrate the impact of supporting local businesses:

  • For every $100 spent at a local business, $68 stays in the local economy, compared to $43 for non-local businesses.
  • Small businesses create two out of every three new jobs in the United States.
  • Local businesses are more likely to support local charities and community initiatives.
  • Shopping locally reduces the environmental impact of transportation and shipping.

By supporting local businesses, we’re not only helping to keep our communities strong, but we’re also making a positive impact on the environment and society as a whole.

Photo of Inner Sage: The Studio, The Shop, The Lifestyle
See my Podcast with Owner Jamie Garrison as we chat it up about small business ownership.

How to Get Involved in the 3/50 Project

Getting involved in the 3/50 Project is easy. All you need to do is choose three local businesses that you want to support and spend $50 across these businesses each month. You can find participating businesses on the 3/50 Project website or by searching on social media.

You can also encourage others to get involved. Share your support for local businesses on social media and encourage your friends and family to do the same. You can also leave positive reviews for local businesses online, which can help attract new customers and support the local economy.

This photo is of myself & Tim Travis, Owner of Goldner Walsh Garden & Home.
Listen to our Winter and Spring Podcasts.

Join me at my Monthly Classes at this beautiful & historic greenhouse & garden center.

You can also purchase my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats and Treats in their beautiful gift shop as well!

Other Ways to Support Local Businesses

While the 3/50 Project is a great way to support local businesses, there are other ways to get involved. Here are some additional ways to support local businesses:

  • Shop at farmers’ markets or local craft fairs.
  • Use local service providers, such as accountants, lawyers, and contractors.
  • Buy gift cards for local businesses to give as gifts or use later.
  • Leave positive reviews for local businesses on Yelp or other review sites.
  • Attend local events and festivals.

By supporting local businesses in these additional ways, we’re helping to create a thriving local economy and a strong sense of community.

Benefits of Supporting Local Businesses

There are many benefits to supporting local businesses. Here are just a few:

  • Local businesses create jobs and boost the local economy.
  • Shopping locally reduces the environmental impact of transportation and shipping.
  • Local businesses often offer unique products and services that can’t be found elsewhere.
  • Supporting local businesses helps to create a sense of community pride and identity.

By supporting local businesses, we’re not only helping to create a strong local economy, but we’re also making a positive impact on the environment and society as a whole.

Rustic Leaf Brewing, Located in Waterford, Michigan!

Challenges Faced by Local Businesses

While supporting local businesses is crucial, it’s not always easy. Small businesses face many challenges, including competition from larger corporations, rising costs, and changing consumer habits. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made these challenges more significant, with many businesses struggling to stay afloat.

As consumers, we can help by supporting local businesses whenever possible. If we want to keep our communities vibrant and thriving, we need to make a conscious effort to shop locally and support small businesses.

I certainly hope you are encouraged to garden. Even if you start with only two or three of these things, that’s a great start! 

Supporting local businesses is more important than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on small businesses, and many have had to close their doors permanently. However, by supporting local businesses, we can help to create jobs, boost the local economy, and promote a sense of community.

The 3/50 Project is a simple yet powerful initiative that encourages consumers to support their local businesses by spending $50 at three local businesses each month. By getting involved in the 3/50 Project and supporting local businesses in other ways, we can make a real difference to our communities.

So, the next time you’re thinking about making a purchase, consider shopping locally. By doing so, you’re not only supporting your community, but you’re also making a positive impact on society as a whole. Together, we can create a strong and thriving local economy that benefits everyone.

Other great Local Resources:~Edible WOW Magazine: This is one of the best resources out there for Southwest Michigan www.ediblewow.com

~Edible Communities: web site to direct you to an Edible publication in your area www.ediblecommunities.com

~Local Harvest: list of producers in every state www.localharvest.org
~Google Farmers Markets to find local ones in your area
~Local Dirt: listing for producers www.localdirt.com
There are gobs more out there and thanks to the internet you can find just about anything you want LOCALLY!

Dave & I at L.A. Café getting breakfast & some cool gifts!

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Until next time friends, eat fresh, shop local, & have a happy day,

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Supporting Local: How Can I Do This?, 3/50 Project and Yummy Tuscan Soup & Onion Recipes!

Local is an important thing to many people, not just to the businesses but also to the consumer.  I remember when I was a young girl growing up in Windsor, Ontario and going to ‘town’ with my grandma… the little downtown and the “five & dime” shops. I remember the ‘big’ store downtown where grandma use to do a lot of the domestic shopping… it had a little cafe in there that we would always get a bite to eat… my favorite- french fries and gravy, yeah that’s a Canadian thing!  Well anyway, I use to love to go to the little hardware store that she would by her canning jars and lids at, the Chinese food restaurant that we would patronize on grandpa’s pay day… memories of a small town… a lot of children in today’s society won’t know that as a regular experience.  It will more likely be a ‘vacation’ memory. So many of us want to know who grew those tomatoes, or who raised that sheep to produce the fiber that made those lovely mittens, or shake the hand with the farmer that milked that cow that you now can get fresh raw milk from.  It is a good feeling to ‘know your farmer’… it is good feeling to talk to Mary when you purchase that jar of cherry preserves she made… it is rewarding to hand your hard earned money over to a person that worked hard to provide you with something essential.  It is a win-win situation for all involved.

Many small towns of today have the big bad ‘W’ store along with others that have killed the mom & pop shops. It’s so sad really, but we can help keep things local by just doing a few small things: Shop in town, close to town and at least within your own state.  Local by most definitions allows a 100 mile radius from your home- that gives you a lot of options if you think about it!  Many of us are going to make New Years resolutions tomorrow… let at least one be to make a conscious effort to support your local community this year!

I thought it would be interesting to put some tips on how to buy local, support local and live local!
~Buy direct from the producer as often as possible. By doing this you can recompense them fairly for their work.  The best way to do this is to shop as locally as you can!  Find locally owned businesses in your area, go to the Farmers Market, check sites like Local Harvest, Local Dirt and Slow Food for producers around you! 
~Join a CSA.  Shares of seasonally grown vegetables, fruit, meat & eggs, dairy can be sent directly to your door or picked up at local Farmers Markets or area businesses.  Emphasis is always on local & fresh.
~Shop your local Farmers Markets. There are gobs of Summer and Winter farmers markets all around.  They not only provide you with a great selection of local products, you get to meet the producers first hand. 
~Shop small specialty shops.  These independent shops provide a more pleasurable shopping experience than the big box stores or super markets could ever offer.  They will even want to learn your first name!
~When you dine out, eat at a local restaurant that buys at least some of their menu ingredients from local producers/resources.  You’ll be surprised at how many restaurants are doing this. 
There are ton’s of great Local minded groups out there that are great resources for all of us- again both producer and consumer.  One that has a really good mission is the 3/50 Project   http://www.the350project.net

They encourage us to think of three businesses you’d hate to see disappear, pop in and say hello once a month; the goal is to spend $50 between those three businesses.  That really is not a lot when you look at where you spend your money in a month.

Their Mission:
• To promote and strengthen independent brick and mortar businesses owned by people in the community

• To thank consumers for their patronage

• To expand local revenue streams by showing how a small dollar amount can translate into enormous financial stability

• To shine a light on the stark contrast between what an independent, locally owned brick and mortar business contributes to the local economy versus the significantly lower amount big boxes, franchises, chains, and internet purchases return

• To save the local economy…three businesses at a time
Be sure to check out their Facebook and website for lots more details I don’t have time to put here.

Other great Local Resources:~Edible WOW Magazine: This is one of the best resources out there for Southwest Michigan www.ediblewow.com
~Edible Communities: web site to direct you to an Edible publication in your area

~Local Harvest: list of producers in every state www.localharvest.org
~Google Farmers Markets to find local ones in your area
~Local Dirt: listing for producers
There are gobs more out there and thanks to the internet you can find just about anything you want LOCALLY!

What to do with onions? There are lots of great things other than just throwing them on top of a salad. Here are a couple yummy recipes to expand your horizons. I threw in a yummy Tuscan Soup recipe for all the fresh Kale you are enjoying right now…Enjoy friends!

Sweet Onion and Sausage Spaghetti

6 oz uncooked Spaghetti
3/4 pound Italian Sausage Links, casings removed
2 tsp Olive Oil
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 c half & half cream
Shaved Parmesan cheese, optional

Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet over med. Heat, cook sausage in oil for 5 minutes.   Add onion; cook 8-10 min.s longer or until meat is no longer pink and onion is tender.
Stir in tomatoes & basil; heat through.  Add ream; bring to a boil.  Drain spaghetti; toss with sausage mix.  Garnish with cheese if desired.

Baked Onion Cheese Dip
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 c shredded pepper Jack cheese
1/4 c cream cheese, cubed
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/4 tsp fresh thyme
2 c chopped sweet onions, divided
Assorted crackers

1.  in a food processor, combine the cheeses, mayo, thyme & 1 c onions; cover 7 process until blended.  Stir in remaining onions.
Transfer to a greased 3 c baking dish.  Baked, uncovered at 375 degrees for 20 –25 minutes or until bubbly.  Serve with crackers.

Tuscan Soup
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 medium potatoes
1 ob. Spicy Italian Sausage
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups chopped kale

Brown Sausage; cool.
Combine the broth and cream in a sauce pan; slice the unpeeled potato into 1/4 inch slices; add the browned sausage; add the kale.
Add the spices and let soup simmer for about 2 hours. Stir occasionally.

Happy Day,





Host A Cookie Exchange Luncheon, Making The Invitation and Some Yummy Cookie Recipes!

Its cold, its blowing, there’s snow on the ground, ice on the windshields and us summer lovers need to keep looking for things to keep us occupied until we can dig in the dirt.  Now that all the holiday hustle and bustle is over, we are getting ready for our New Years Eve parties, lets think food… cookies particularly today! Forget the resolutions and enjoy life… like a wise one once wrote, “Life is short, eat desert first!” The gyms and the weight loss programs are gonna be there next week… so just have some good, homemade fun with friends you enjoy being around!

What could be more fun than gathering together with a group of our close friends and family when you include cookies and lunch?  Well of course the getting ready for it… making the invitations, decorating the tables, preparing the food and baking those pretty cookies. Not to mention buying just the right containers for your guests to package up all your love in!

How many cookies do I tell my friends to make? This is usually the hardest part to decide.  You don’t want to overwhelm your friends and family, yet you want a decent amount of cookies to keep.  Here are two simple ways to decide how many.

1. If you are having a small group of say 6-10 friends, then simply tell them to make a dozen per person. So if you invite 6 people,plus yourself tell everyone to make 7 dozen cookies. This will give everyone there a dozen of each variety.

2.  If you are having a larger group of a dozen or more then choose a comfortable number to bake; when you know how many guests are planning on attending you will take the number of dozens and divide by the number of guests. That will give you the number of how many cookies each person will get.  So, if you choose to have every one make 12 dozen cookies and you are planning on 20 guests you will take 12 dozen multiplied by 12 cookies= 144 cookies divided by 20 guests = 7.2 cookies of each variety for each guest.  With the odd number you can figure there will be a few extras… take those and make a plate for a friend that maybe wasn’t able to attend, or give to an elderly neighbor. 

*My personal recommendation is stick to 8-10 guests. This keeps it quaint and personal, especially in the cold months where we are going to be inside.  If you are going to plan this for the warmer months and do it outside, then go big!


The Invitation: The Invitation will set the whole tone for your Cookie Exchange…it needs to be cute, fun and inviting! Here are a few idea’s to make it super special!

~Be sure to invite your guests at least two to three weeks in advance. This will give them time to find the perfect containers. Have your guests include a copy of the recipe on a recipe card for each guest with their name and date on it.  Be sure to stress that they would be so extra special if they are hand written.  A friends hand writing is so special…
~Mini cookie cutters make invitations a keepsake too! Tie unto the front of the invitation with a length of raffia or ribbon. 
~Be sure to include that you are each to bring the cookies in containers ready for each guest… give some suggestions (see below).  Tell them how many cookies to put for each guest.
~If you are a Stamper or Scrapbooker, then you probably have oodles of supplies and ideas.  If you are having a theme, New Years, Holiday, Winter, Think Summer in January (my personal choice), Tropical/ Hawaiian, Vintage Kitchen (my second choice) or whatever you choose- make your invitation to reflect that theme.  Be sure that you let your guests know this theme in the invitation.
~Use vintage postcards; put all the info on the back of card.
~Use die cuts that are the shape of cookies that would fit your theme; get a rubber stamp that has Invitation info on it; or print off your computer with a cute font.
~Photo Greeting Cards make beautiful invites as well. Take a photo of your cookie, a bowl full of vintage cookie cutters or whatever your theme might be. Have enough 4×6 prints made for the amount of invitations you need. Crop about an inch off the photo and then adhere to a piece of card stock. Too cute!
~Be sure to include how many dozen they are to make and remind them that they are to be all the SAME KIND of cookie or bar.
A couple great sites for Card Making ideas are:

Setting The Table: The cookies are the stars of the table but you can certainly add some festive cheer by adding those special decorative touches! Here are a few ideas for the table:

~Take large, clear cookie or Apothecary jars and fill with brightly colored glass ornaments.
~Scatter vintage style postcards over the table.
~Set one bowl upside down and then place another really cool old stoneware bowl on top of it carefully, then fill with cookie cutters.

~Use blue mason jars with tea lights in them to add charming light.

~As a center piece, use a large old crock and put baking utensils in it… rolling pin, whisker, wooden spoons, etc.  If you have one of those old metal sifters, graters, etc. add those too!
~Display a row of old mixing bowls lined with checked linen napkins or doilies and fill with assorted cookies for munching.
~Use cake stands, stacked or singly, to display pretty tarts and bars along with old fashioned ribbon candy.
~If you happen to have a chandelier or even a ceiling fan above the table, decorate it with greenery and colorful berries and hang vintage cookie cutter from it.

~Be sure to have little tent cards for each guest to write their name and the variety of cookie or bar on; place in front of their stash!

~Guest Book: If you keep a guest book, be sure to write the date and the event name & theme. Have each guest sign their name and the kind of cookie or bar they brought.

The Luncheon: Here is a simple yet elegant and fun menu!  Think finger foods.

~Have luncheon size plates ready for guests, along with pretty napkins to match your theme.  Have tea in pots with pretty tea cups; display several varieties of tea in a basket lined with a pretty linen napkin; put sugar, honey and cream in pretty bowl & pitchers; have several tea cups and saucers available.  Put coffee in pretty carafes;
~Coffee and Tea of course.  Make a punch as well. I have a beautiful clear glass 5 gallon jug that I use at my parties.  Use what you have.  Use food coloring to make your punch the right color to fit your theme.

~Little Sandwiches~ Take white, whole wheat and rye breads; cut off crusts; cut several with cookie cutters and leave some whole; use tuna salad, chicken salad and yummy cucumber cream cheese mixture for the fillings; use two different breads to make sandwiches so they are colorful; for the whole slices, cut them in an ‘X’ to make triangle shaped sandwiches; stack on cake plates.  Be sure to cover just before serving so bread doesn’t get crunchy!

~Roll Ups- take soft flour tortilla’s, spread cream cheese in a thin layer; lay single slice of ham to cover tortilla; roll up and then slice into 1″ pieces. Place on pretty platters.
~Cheese Ball and crackers
~Fruit bowl- mixed fruit always adds charm to the table.
~Relish tray with raw veggies, olives and pickles with a veggie dip.

Take The Cookie Home Tips: It’s fun to make your cookies ‘ready to go’… here are some really cute idea’s for containers you can give your friends!

~Metal Cookie Tins– these can be found by the hundreds at most Thrift stores. You can find every shape and size imaginable. The fun part will be finding a tin for each family or friend that just fits their personalities.  It will then be a nice keepsake for them to remember the special day by.

~Wicker Baskets- again think Thrift shops! You can find gobs & gobs of them.  Look for pretty linen napkins while your there to line the baskets. Again a useful keepsake that they can re-use.

~Cookie Jars- I’ll say it again, Thrift shops!  There are endless lines of the cutest cookie jars that you will be able to choose one that is just right for each guest… and again useful and re-usable!
~Crocks, Platters or Mixing Bowls- Yes, thrift shops! So cheap yet so awesome. Your guests will think you went all out for them.

~ White or Craft Paper Bags;If you don’t want to go to that extreme, simply use white or craft paper bags; stamp a cute picture, use die cuts or stickers to decorate. Fold the bag down twice, punch two holes in the top and string raffia or twine through to secure the bag.
~Vellum bags would work the same as well.  Top with a vintage post card for the gift card.
~If you have several extra Christmas ornament boxes, those would work great to stack the cookies in each divided section and then with the clear plastic lid, they will be able to see the lovely cookies.
~Take colored Cellophane paper; roll stacks of cookies in and tie the ends with ribbon, twine or raffia; tie a gift card on.
Here are a few Cookie recipes that our family enjoys!

Whoopie Pies
Makes 14 Whoopie Pies
Here’s an all time favorite at our house!

3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine milk and flour in a small saucepan. cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; cook and stir for 2 minutes more.
Let cool; beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy; add vanilla.  Gradually beat in milk mixture;beat on high for one minute, or until smooth and fluffy.

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
‘1 tsp.baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup baking cocoa

1. Beat together shortening, sugar, baking soda and salt with an electric mixer on medium speed; beat in buttermilk, egg and vanilla; set aside.
2. Stir together flower and cocoa; stir into shortening mixture. 
3. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until edges are firm; cool on wire racks.  Cool on wire racks. 
5. Spread 2 tbsp filling on flat side of cookies; top with another cookie, flat side on icing.
6.Store, covered, in a cool place or the refrigerator.

Buckeyes Enjoy these rich, peanut buttery balls dipped in milk chocolate!

Yields about 5-6 dozen

1 pound creamy peanut butter
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar
12 oz. package milk chocolate chips
1/3 bar paraffin

1. Blend together peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar, mixing with hands.
2. Shape into one inch balls;chill. 
#. Melt together chips and paraffin over hot water in a double boiler. Use a toothpick to dip each ball in chocolate, leaving a small spot uncovered.  With the tip of a small knife, smooth over hole left by toothpick.
5. Arrange on wax paper lined baking sheet. Place in cool area or freezer to set.

Holiday Snack Mix

10 1/2 oz. package bite size crispy honey nut corn and rice cereal squares, like Chex cereals
8 oz package candy coated chocolates, like M&M’s
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup raisins, golden or red
12 oz jar dry roasted peanuts- salted

Mix all ingredients together; store in an airtight container.

Brown Sugar Shortbread Bars

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup brown sugar,packed
2 egg yolks
4 cups white flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Cream sugar in butter and shortening; blend in egg yolks, salt and vanilla.  Mix flour in thoroughly with hands, chill for 1 hour.
2.  In a 10″x15″ ungreased bar pan, roll out dough evenly to fill pan. Sprinkle with sugar over entire top. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-17 minutes. Do not over bake.
3. Take out of oven and place on cooling rack; let cool 5 minutes; using a sharp knife, cut into pieces; let cool 20 more minutes. Take out of pan carefully; place on cooling rack for another 10 minutes. Place in air tight containers. Keeps in freezer for up to 3 months.

Tea Party Sugar Cookie Sunbonnets
This is a ‘decorating’ recipe!

Your favorite Sugar Cookie recipe
Your favorite decorators Icing
Food colorings
Decorating tools

You need to decide how many bonnets you want and adjust your cookie and icing recipes to suit.
Cut out an even amount of 4 inch circles and 2 inch circles. Bake as directed in your recipe. Decide how many colors you want for your flowers,leaves, and ribbons on the sunbonnets.
Divide your icing into bowls accordingly. Leave enough for 12 heaping tsp.per 2 cookies (1 small and 1 large) of plain white. This is your ‘paste’. Put 1 heaping teaspoon of white icing on flat side of small cookie; gently press down on a large cookie until attached and sticks. do this to all of your cookies, until your have your desired amount of bonnets.
Mix/make your colored icing now. Pipe a ‘ribbon’ around the seam line of small and large cookie. You can make bows, streams, etc.  Pipe on your flowers next; ten leaves. Let stand until firm.
These are a lot of fun to make and very special.
TIP: Remember, if you want several color ribbons and flowers, you will need to either have several tools, or plan out which ones will be what color, so you don’t have to keep changing your icing.  Lots of work but well worth it!

Happy Day,




The Organic Life: How To Get There and More Market Fresh Recipe’s!

What does Organic mean to you?  I think everyone reading this would have somewhat of a different answer.  Personally,  I want ‘organic’ to be the way I breath, eat and sleep… it’s the life style I want for myself and my family… it’s a personal choice… you can’t make someone ‘believe’ it if they don’t want to or they don’t care.  An organic life style isn’t easy by any definition of the word… especially if you live in the city! No offense there my city dwelling friends! I have come to understand your back yard isn’t even your own to grow your food if that is what you want to do… that is unless you get ‘their’ permission.  This is incredulous to me… as many of you who know me personally and have leaned over my market table where we have vented together on these issues!  So many of you ask me for advice on chickens, gardening and canning… I wish so badly I could do more than just give you ‘tips’… but that is where it’s at I guess.  So today I am going to give some reference materials along with more ‘tips’ on how to get a piece of the organic life for yourselves… and of course some more yummy market fresh recipes!  Enjoy friends!
What are most organic minded people searching for in their quest for this life style that is sure to better for them?  How do they change their eating, their basic hygiene habits and all the ‘normal’ stuff they have done for years?  Well in today’s world of the educated consumer and the ready to make a dollar industry, the choices are by far greater than when I started this journey.  Just about every grocery & big box store carries an organic line of everything imaginable.  But this is only the basics right?  What about going deeper… like the know where the stuff comes from… who processed it… who raised it… getting it from the hand that washed that beautiful brown, farm fresh egg… that’s what the search is really about… the knowing!  …and it’s important, no matter what ‘they’ try to tell you! There is this instinct within you that just want’s to raise some of your own food in your very own garden, preserve what you’ve grown… canning some of your own pickles and making your own strawberry jam… bake some bread like grandma use too… have a few chickens, gather those eggs, wash them with your own two hands and then fry em’ up. There are so many roads to this life. I love reading about people who left the rat race and said enough is enough… they go out to reclaim what they know was a part of their ancestory… the simple life… where you can hear the crickets chirping and see the milky way up in the starlit night, where the ‘light’ pollution doesn’t distort it all… dirt roads and pasture fields all around… not screaming sirens and blaring ‘booming’ radio’s… the good life!  I can preach all this stuff because we did it… almost sixteen years ago… It wasn’t and still isn’t easy… there have been many bumps in the road and I realize that not everyone can do this… but I have never regretted it and I will never go back! 
Here are some idea’s to grow by…  * Growing your own food is probably the first attempt that most folks make… after all grandma & grandpa always had a garden!  I remember being a child sitting in the middle of the long pea rows eating those beautiful and oh so yummy peas right out of the pod.  Grabbing hold of that carrot top and washing it under the spicket and crunch!  Garden fresh goodness at it’s best!  You will never know more satisfaction in your life than planting a seed or a seedling, nurturing it and then eating from the works of your very own hands… your own sweat and sore back… you will savor every mouthful to the fullest and you will make sure everyone cleans their plate!
*Canning is typically the next step… I think for reason of necessity because you got a lot out of that garden and now what do you do with it…. along with the sheer desire to preserve some of that goodness that you grew!  There is much to be learned in this field but once you have your main supplies and a couple sessions under your belt, you will quickly become an old pro and look forward to the harvest!
*Finding your local Farmer’s Market… some folks can’t or simply don’t have the space for a garden, much less a chicken coop!  The next best thing is definitely going to your local market and supporting the farmers that work so hard to bring you all those beautiful piles of healthy food every week!  Knowing where your goods come from seems to be by far the most important element in this journey… As all our market friends know, I love to talk… especially about gardening and canning!  Be sure to talk to your farmers and producers… we are all usually pretty excited about chatting about what we do… after all it’s our passions that have brought us to you at the market!   
*Energy saving seems to be right up there in the importance level… wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all go solar or wind powered?  But again, reality needs to set in and that is not a possibility for most either.  Although when you shop local and directly from the farmer/producer you are saving!  You are saving fuel from the transportation of trucking in food from all across the country and the world.  Try using bio-degradable home products and recycling… these all help… every little bit counts! 
*Plastic is a big no-no to most as well… we love when our market friends come with their recyclable grocery bags and we try to encourage all to use them. We also encourage our customers to bring us their clean, empty plastic clam shell containers- we re-use them each week for the produce that goes into our CSA shares!  If you are at the market and you see one of the farmers selling eggs, most will gladly take your clean, gently used old egg cartons and reuse them each week as well.
*Body, Baby & Home care  products aren’t such a challenge any longer either… again, most stores carry organic lines and thankfully there are many on-line catalogs that supply a wide variety of products.  I do believe that this area is equally as important as the food we eat!  The harsh chemicals that we slather all over our bodies goes into the blood stream and I believe will eventually effect us in a very negative way!
*We even have the availability of organic clothing and other fiber products… again you can go to many farmers markets and find fiber producers.  They are often found by lamb, llama or the like farmers… these farmers then have the ability to produce wool, batting, etc. for you.
*You can incorporate these practices right down to gift giving. I know I have been guilty of not wanting to spend that extra couple bucks on so-and-so when they don’t even care about any of this ‘stuff’!  But you know what?  It just might be the seed that needs to be planted in a friends life… if you start the ball rolling with an organic and Eco-friendly gift they may do some deeper research or really like the product and then..

Here is a list of some really good books, magazines and sites that will help you on your way!

“A Slice of Organic Life”, Editor-in-Chief Sheherazade Goldsmith, Foreword by Alice Waters; Published by DK, discover more at www.dk.com

Organic Gardening Magazine, www.organicgardening.com
Countryside  & Small Stock  Journal, www.courntrysidemag.com 
Edible WOW Magazine, www.ediblewow.com
Taproot Magazine,
Mary Janes Farm Magazine, www.maryjanesfarm.org
Hobby Farm Magazine, www.hobbyfarm.com
Acres USA Magazine
Local Harvest,
Local Dirt, www.localdirt.com
ATTRA, www.attra.ncal.org
Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Catalog, www.rareseed.com
Fedco Seed Company, www.fedco.com
Vitacost catalog- body/home care products, www.vitacost.com

More Yummy Market Fresh Recipes!
It’s summer and the bounty is on… lets cook!

Oven Dried Tomatoes
Tomatoes… as many as you like or have room to do.
Sea Salt
olive Oil
Fresh Thyme
Fresh Garlic, minced

1. Coat cookie sheet lightly with olive oil; preheat oven to 200 degrees.
2. Slice tomatoes about 1/2 inch thick; single layer them on coated cookie sheet; sprinkle with salt and fresh thyme leaves; sprinkle minced garlic over top- amount of garlic is a personal choice.  Experiment until you get the desired flavor you would like.
3. Bake for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, checking every fifteen minutes to make sure they don’t dry out. 
4. Store in freezer bag for up to 3 months or in refrigerator in sealed container for about a week.

Summer Time Salsa
10 Roma type tomatoes, chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
tortilla chips

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl; mix thoroughly; chill in fridge for at least 2 hours to let flavors blend.
Serve with chips

Bacon Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
1 lb. Garden Gate Bacon… of course
1 pint cherry tomatoes~ larger types if possible, from Garden Gate
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1. Set aside prepared bacon on paper towels to drain off excess fat.
2. Cut a thin slice off the top of each cherry tomato- discard tops.
3. Use the small scoop of a melon baller to hollow out tomato; discard pulp.
4. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and blend well; spoon mixture into hollowed out tomatoes. Refrigerated until chilled and serve.

Happy Day,