As we transition into spring, it is important to think about our seasonal produce for these coming months. Seasonal crops are produced within their appropriate growing season for that region, and are consumed shortly after they are harvested. Seasonal produce can have a positive impact on both the local and global environment. In the last 20 years, the ideas of “farm to table” and “farm to restaurant” have grown drastically, encouraging people to buy local produce. Farm to table focuses on produce delivered directly from farms to your home. Farm to restaurant takes this a step beyond by applying it to local businesses that are supporting farmers and feeding the community. These ideas encompass the importance of getting food directly from farms and bypassing the excessive processing, preserving and transporting that comes from working with industrialized agricultural companies.

Skip the Grocery Store

Farmers markets are a great way to get local and seasonal produce. You can search online for farmers markets using your zip code, or try getting involved with Facebook community groups that share gardening plots, farmers markets, agricultural co-cops and more (if you scroll to the end of this blog, you will find several online tools to help you find local produce near you). Another way consumers can find local produce is through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Many CSA farms offer food box subscriptions. The way this works is the farm offers a list of in-season produce you can pick from, then they deliver it based on your needs (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly). This is a great way to support local farms with the convenience of food delivery.

Benefits of Shopping Local

Our local and global environments benefit from people shopping for local food. Supporting this type of agriculture helps to encourage the local economy. Farmers markets get people to interact with small business owners and it creates a stronger sense of community. Weekly markets bring people together and gives the event a social aspect. It is also an opportunity to get to know where your food comes from and who is growing it. Having a personal relationship with your local farmer allows you to feel more confident in what you are feeding yourself and your family.

On a global scale, shopping locally reduces the carbon footprint of our food. The transportation to regional locations is a lot more sustainable than having out of season produce shipped from other countries. Local farmers also often grow USDA certified organic produce which means that they prohibit the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), work to conserve natural resources, preserve biodiversity, and only use approved substances (no chemically harsh pesticides). Finally, local produce offers quality and freshness due to the short time between harvest and consumption. If anything, the taste should be the most convincing reason to shop for local and in-season produce!

What's In-Season?

Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California. For this reason, California’s in-season produce is a great reference for most of the country. If you would like to look up what is in season near you, use this online Seasonal Food Guide.

Produce in season for March(California):

  • Artichokes
  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Beets
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Cilantro
  • Citrus
  • Collard Greens
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Grapefruit
  • Green Beans
  • Kale
  • Kiwi
  • Lettuce
  • Mandarins
  • Mint
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Pears
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Sprouts
  • Strawberries
  • Thyme
  • Turnips
  • Watercress
  • Winter Squash

If you would like to discover local and seasonal produce near you, these sites are a great place to start. Google, Yelp, and your local news publications are also good resources to discover local markets and unique events serving locally grown food.

Farmers’ Markets in North County San Diego

San Diego Farmers Markets 

San Diego Farm Bureau

The Ecology Center Farmers Market Finder (for CA residents)

USDA National Farmers Market Directory