Celebrating our fall harvest | Editorial

September kicks off fall, when the scent of pumpkin spice wafts through the foggy morning air. It is also harvest season, and eat local month.

Following that theme, The San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau’s annual “Savour the San Juans” runs from late to September through November, featuring farm tours and farmers markets on San Juan, Orcas and Lopez, two film festivals and a brew fest, harvest dinners, wine and spirits tasting among a wide array of other local festivities. To learn more about these special events, visit https://www.visitsanjuans.com/savor.

The desire to support local farms is strong throughout the county, stores have a difficult time keeping their products in stock. Eating local after all, supports our neighbors, creates a strong community economy, is healthier, and ensures that if and when disaster strikes cutting us off from distant supplies, islanders will continue to have access to essential nutrition.

Eating local also teaches us about the land around us, the geology and ecology of where we live. What foods grow in the islands, when, and where. There are plenty of microclimates throughout the county after all, and what might do well in one area, may not do well in another.

Truly supporting small farms, however, goes beyond simply eating local. Like so many other industries, housing and staffing issues have had a tremendous impact on farmers.

There has been a huge effort by non-profits and government agencies alike to address the housing crisis. The San Juan County Food System’s Team, for example, includes members from our island’s Agricultural Guild. this group has been collecting data and reaching out to community members in order to create a long-term sustainable plan to support our local food systems.

While complex, the data is showing us what the primary issues are, and plans to address them are being made. It’s up to us as individuals to become engaged. Paying attention to the ideas coming forward, and the steps we can take to improve housing and staffing issues can help. Island farmers have stated they believe they could increase their business simply by tackling these two problems.

Discover for yourself what products our island growers have and how best to support them. Get to know those who grow your food. The farmers market is one opportunity, and so is attending the farm tours.

This fall, let’s celebrate our bountiful harvest and come together to create an even stronger community for the future.