MODESTO — Help save farmland for the low, low price of just $10 a week!
That's the latest pitch from the American Farmland Trust, which is urging people to spend at least that much at their farmers markets.
The Washington, D.C.-based group sees the markets as a way for farmers to increase their income, since they bypass wholesalers and grocers. That, in turn, helps keep the land in agriculture.
The trust, which is active in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, asks supporters to make the pledge at www.lovemyfarmersmarket.org through Sept. 9.
The trust will keep a running online tally of the markets getting the most pledges. Once a week, a participant and his or her favorite farmer will be chosen to receive a "No Farms No Food" hat.
Folks in our area can easily take part. The Modesto Certified Farmers Market runs from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. today on 16th Street. Dozens of other markets operate at various times in and near Stanislaus County.
And you should have no trouble working through $10 at a market this time of year. The season is at its peak with summer fruits and vegetables, along with nuts, cheese and many other fresh and prepared products.
The trust estimates that farmers get just $1.58 out of every $10 spent on overall food purchases, but that rises to about $8.50 at farmers markets. It also notes that most of that market income is re-spent in the local economy.
Randii MacNear, manager of a farmers market in Davis, drove the point home in a news release:
"Making the connection between shopping at farmers markets and keeping family farmers on the land is not something that every shopper is aware of, but it is something that everyone who eats should feel passionate about."
Last week's column about a film on the honeybee crisis prompted an email from John Miller, a prominent beekeeper in Placer County.
He noted that some of the close-up footage of bees was shot during almond pollination at Montpelier Farms, along East Keyes Road in the foothills near Snelling.
"More Than Honey," by Swiss filmmaker Markus Imhoof, explores colony collapse disorder, a mysterious malady that threatens honeybees around the world.
It is showing this month at the State Theatre, 1307 J St., Modesto. Remaining showtimes are 7 p.m. Monday, 4 p.m. Thursday and 4 p.m. July 17.
Miller is the subject of "The Beekeeper's Lament," a 2011 book about the disorder, by journalist Hannah Nordhaus. He took part in panel discussions on the topic in Oakdale last year and in Modesto in 2010.
Have an idea for Farm Beat? Write to John Holland at firstname.lastname@example.org.