WNPR

As Winter Approaches, Extending the Idea of What It Means to Shop Local

Dec 13, 2016

Buying local doesn't just need to be for produce. That's the message of a program trying to get consumers to think bigger about the so-called "locavore" lifestyle.

Say you want to buy eggs, or Alpaca fiber -- and, like any good public-radio listener, you want to do it locally.

Stacey Stearns, agriculture program specialist with UConn Extension, said there's a website for that, called BuyCTGrown. It's run through City Seed, a non-profit in New Haven and UConn Extension.

The website has a spot where you can type in the goods you're looking for and it points you to the nearest farms that have it.

It also allows users to take a pledge to spend 10 percent of their weekly budget for food and gardening items on locally-sourced products. 

"A lot of people associate it with food, but this time of year we're saying your Christmas tree, your poinsettia," Stearns said. "In the springtime, the shrubs you're planting around your yard -- any of that stuff can also count as local."

This week Stearns announced that through the program, about $3 million have been poured into locally-produced goods since 2013.

"When those dollars stay locally, they're supporting Connecticut jobs. They're supporting Connecticut families," Stearns said.  

While the accounting isn't an exact science (customers self-report their purchases through the website), Stearns said the idea is more to raise awareness of local goods and change buying habits.

"While it may not be the first thing that somebody [thinks]: 'I'm going to go buy a local Christmas tree because it's going to support jobs here in Connecticut,'" said Stearns, "we do want them to understand that is one of the benefits of it."

According to the group, Connecticut residents average spending about two-and-a-half percent of their food purchases on locally grown products.