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College event celebrates local farmers
Ann Daily, left of the Penn State Master Gardeners for Cumberland County, talks to Meredith Milnes, right, a sophomore at Dickinson College, about a new program for Dickinson College and Master Gardeners at the Dickinson College Community Garden during the Dickinson College’s Indoor Farmer’s Market. Matthew O’Haren/Special to The Sentinel

Chances are Brianna Fry will grow more than fresh vegetables in her garden this year.

The 5-year-old girl from Shermans Dale is being nourished by life lessons planted in her heart.

Linda Fry hopes the lessons take root and blossom into something beautiful.

“We want her to be self-sufficient,” Fry said of her daughter. “We want her to give back to the Earth and the community in a positive way.”

That is why the family visited the indoor farmers market Saturday in the Holland Union Building of Dickinson College campus.

Shawn and Linda Fry wanted to show their daughter what is available around Carlisle, so that one day she would buy locally grown organic products.

“We don’t want chemical additives to go into her,” Linda Fry explained.

Dickinson College Farm hosted the market prior to its sixth annual local food dinner held to raise money for the regional “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” campaign.

The dinner celebrates the agricultural resources of the Carlisle area by providing a meal made with locally produced ingredients.

College Farm program director Jenn Halpin hopes people use the opportunity to reconnect with the farming community in close proximity to the borough.

The market is a chance for local residents to interact with farmers, buy their products and learn more about what they sell in season, Halpin said.

She explained how college students work on the farm, which supplies fresh produce to the dining hall, also located at the HUB. While the market is open to the public, only ticket holders can attend the dinner, which last year raised $1,000 for the campaign.

Susan Richards represented the campaign on behalf of the Capital Resource Conservation and Development Area Council, a seven county non-profit organization that networks people, projects and resources to promote the responsible use and conservation of resources.

Money raised from the dinner supports the community outreach campaign and the publication of a local food guide of area farms, Richards said.

She added it may be used as the local match on a grant being sought through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase swipe card reading machines for local farmers markets.

One campaign goal is to make locally grown produce more available to food stamp recipients, who now receive swipe cards with set amounts instead of paper food stamps, Richards said.

Melanie Dietrich-Cochran is co-owner of Keswick Creamery of Newburg, one of the farmers who attended the market Saturday.

“This is a nice opportunity for people to get together and visit with us,” Dietrich-Cochran said. She hopes people realize they can get what they need from local farms instead of relying all the time on grocery stores, which tend to carry produce grown outside the Carlisle area.

Sandra Miller is owner of the Painted Hand Farm, also in Newburg — what she calls the “hot bed” of sustainable agriculture in the area.

She was referring to the presence of Keswick Creamery along with farms such as Otterbein Acres and Pecan Acres.

Saturday was an opportunity for Miller to get reacquainted with past customers from the Carlisle Central Farmers Market, which closed in February. She hinted of plans for an outdoor farmers market coming to Carlisle, but was not ready to disclose when or where.

Jen Briggs of New Cumberland was at the market in support of local farmers, saying people tend to take the rolling farmland of Cumberland County for granted.

“Farms are more than just a roadside food stand,” Briggs said, adding how local families have worked the land for generations only to see profits shrink and costs rise.

“If the dollars are not there, they can not afford to have the land in farm,” Briggs said.

She asked how many local farms have already disappeared in recent years to development?

Briggs added, when you buy local, you know what is going into the food and are supporting the local economy.

Lyle Estill of Chatham County, N.C., was the keynote speaker at the fundraiser dinner. He is the author of “Small is Possible: Life in a Local Economy.”

In a world of complex problems, such as global warming and climate change, buying locally grown organic food is something tangible people can grasp to affect positive change, Estill said.

He added buying local helps grow the local economy, since every dollar is recirculated throughout the community several times over for goods and services.

“It is all about awareness,” Estill said. “We are living in a critical time.”

For Jimmy Bradford, 20, of Lansdale, something more basic was critical in his mind.

The Dickinson College junior missed the flavor of locally made cheese like what he can purchase back home.

Sue Ward-Dioria of Boiling Springs was surprised by how many community-supported agricultural programs there are in the Carlisle area.

Under these programs, consumers pay a fee to have a seasonal mix of different vegetables delivered to their home.

“This was a great opportunity to see what was in the area,” Ward-Dioria said.

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