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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Sustaining the Uniqueness of Our Community

Kendra & Jacqueline, Co-publishers

As March winds usher in warmer weather and longer days, those of us with spring fever may be tempted to remove the piles of leaves and debris shielding our plants from the cold of winter. But this year, try to wait a bit longer, until the cherry trees bloom, in order to preserve the chrysalids and tiny hiding spaces that shelter moths, butterflies, bees, praying mantis, fireflies and the thousands of other creatures that contribute to a vital and flourishing ecosystem.

 In this part of the country, we are fortunate to have rich and fertile soil, a climate that supports seasonal bounty and a long history of backyard gardening, family farming and tending to the land. Some of the country’s most nutritious and delicious fruits and vegetables find their way from local farms to grocery stores, co-ops, markets and farm-to-table restaurants all over the East Coast. Locally, 99 percent of the farms are family owned, as compared to the 50 percent national average. These precious small businesses have a tremendous impact on our economy, our health and well-being, and can play an important role in the preservation of the land and soil quality.

With so much of the agricultural and woodland acreage in Berks and Lancaster counties under development lately—about three acres a day, according to the Lancaster County Agricultural Council—the importance of supporting our local farmers becomes a quality of life issue. Sustaining the uniqueness of our community, the stewardship of our land and waters, and the vitality of our local economy is essential to our identity. This aligns with the call to encourage and support the ongoing transition to no-chemical and low-tilling crop production and organic farming, which uses less water, less energy and no pesticides, leading to less erosion, improved soil quality and better-tasting, nutrient-dense food choices.

While you are waiting for blooms on cherry trees and warmer weather, use the time to make your list, chart a course and set a goal to visit new farmers markets, roadside stands and farm-to-table restaurants as often as you can—once a month or even once a week. There are plenty to choose from, and it will be a pleasure for the whole family to discover these nearby treasures.

If you are a farmer, thank you for all that you do—the dusk-to-dawn days of hard physical labor, the meticulous care in selecting and planting your seeds, harvesting at just the right moment and delivering your very best for all of us to savor. We are grateful to you for our health and vitality, and honor your vision and your ongoing hard work.

Kendra Campbell and Jacqueline Mast, Co-Publishers