STAUNTON -- A farming conservation group is asking families to support local farmers by pledging to spend $10 a week at a farmers market.
Jim Randall and his wife, Susan, run Elk Run Farm. They set up shop at the farmers market in Staunton.
"The small farmers like ourselves, to be able to retail here at the market keeps us in business," Randall said.
Susan Randall said their customers are loyal - customers like Louise Whipple, who says she shops at the farmers market for a simple reason.
"If we don't support them," Whipple said, "then we're not going to have all this good food."
Beyond that, Jim Randall said supporting local farms preserves the way of life in the valley.
"If we aren't in business, our farm doesn't amount to anything," he said. "It would turn into probably five or six houses.
"If you want to live in D.C., walk away from the market," Jim Randall said. "It'll turn into D.C."
The money you spend at the farmers market does not stay in farmers' wallets for long.
"By the time we take out feed costs for the animals, and seeds for the vegetables, and upkeep, not a whole lot of it sticks in our pocket," said Susan Randall.
She said they, in turn, support other local businesses for their feed, seed and other supplies - part of a cycle of keeping a local economy - and its people - healthy.
"What goes around comes around," Susan Randall said. "So if you support local agriculture, you'll see me here next week. If you don't, you'll probably see me here anyway, but i won't have a smile on my face."
The American Farmland Trust says its goal is to get $1 million in pledges by September 10. You can visit lovemyfarmersmarket.org to pledge.
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