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South Mountain: Community Supported Forests

The South Mountain Conservation Landscape is working to connect healthy forests to the marketplace by encouraging sustainable harvesting and converting wood into quality products. A new guide encourages residents to look for lumber suppliers, cabinet makers and consultants that are close to home. Learn more here.

Buy Local

Moving food and products long distances takes time and requires energy. Why not seek out products and services locally instead? Not only will your food be fresher, but you'll support the farmers and local businesses that keep your community diverse and vibrant. And, preventing the emissions that contribute to air pollution doesn't hurt either.

Remember, even one action can make a difference. Here are some things to think about and try.

Furnish for the future. Pennsylvania has a long history of businesses and craftsmen that are connected to its bountiful forests. Support local artisans and furniture manufacturers. Adorn your interior with items made from reclaimed or salvaged materials. From barnwood and old wine barrels, there are vendors with products that can make yesterday look like tomorrow. Try to buy wood that has been sustainably-harvested. Look for certification from the Forest Stewardship Council Learn from artisans in the Pennsylvania Wilds, who are connected through a trail of local businesses and reach out to members and customers through social media

Grow your own. What could involve less travel distance than from your backyard or balcony to your table? Pick the best spot, start small, and read up on the basics—from testing the soil to determining what to plant. This publication from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences is a good guide for beginning and seasoned gardeners. Need garden tools? Look at the products offered by iConservePA partner Ames True Temper. Any guesses on the three easiest vegetables to grow? Learn more here.

Support a local farmer. Don't have the time or space to do it yourself? Another option is Community Supported Agriculture. Over the last 20 years, CSAs have become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. You become a member, and then you get boxes or bags of produce throughout the farming season. No dirt under your fingernails! As an added advantage, food tastes best when it’s in season.

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, or PASA, is marketing a Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign to promote area farmer's markets, stores, CSAs and other partners supporting local agriculture. Find providers near you. At the grocery store, looked for the PA Preferred symbol to tell if produce had a short commute.

Start a business that buys from local producers and markets to regional customers. See how the Mustard Lady did it in Ohiopyle on this greenlife Pennsylvania video.

Hunting and fishing. You can substitute store-bought meats with harvests from local forests and streams. State forests and parks offer lots of opportunities for hunting and fishing. Additional ideas for places afield come from the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Fish and Boat Commission.

Raise some peeps. Raising chickens at home is a growing trend. Egg-laying hens in your backyard provide a convenient source of protein and cut down the pollution associated with transportation. Plus, kids learn that food does not just come from a grocery store.

Go native. Check out a local nursery or garden center that offers native plants to help with your landscaping projects, whether it's a small backyard, large lot or municipal park. This can help Pennsylvania save the species that call Pennsylvania "home." Ask our experts about plants and trees. We can help you identify plants that work best for you, and plan a project that will turn your landscape into a native paradise.

Think! The next time you need dinner, a gift or are doing some remodeling, ask yourself if there’s a local farmer, supplier or business that fits your need. If nothing else, let your grocer, garden center or local restaurant owner know that you prefer local and native options so they can make informed decisions that meet the needs of their customers.