Green Lancaster header displaying a picture of an Amish buggy, and corn field, horses in a field, cows being milked, and windmills.

Educate >East Fresh. Save Lancaster. > My Project

Eat Fresh. Save Lancaster.

Eating healthier doesn’t have to take a wedge out of your wallet. In fact local farm businesses in Lancaster County provide delicious fresh groceries at affordable prices. That’s not all -- your business helps keeps local farmers in business and helps sustain the economy in your local community.

Businesses like farmers markets play a vital factor in the over-all economy of Lancaster County. This section provides information on how you can revitalize our community just by buying fresh food locally.


Benefits to Buying Fresh Local Food
Farmers’ Market Economy
Farmers’ Markets in Lancaster County
Food Routes Network and Buy Fresh Buy Local
Healthy and Delectable Dishes
Other National Organizations
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
USDA Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
The Global Food System
Global Initiatives



Know the benefits of buying fresh local products from local farmers instead of big food market chains.  Hint: it will save you money and your health!

Get the facts on how local farm communities like the Amish help keep money in your pocket and bring economic growth to Lancaster County.

See how you can visit farmers’ stands at your local farmers market. If you are in business, learn how you can rent a stand. You could even start a farmers market in your own community.

Lancaster County is a part of a nationwide effort to support local farms. Learn how you can join in this national effort to make our economy strong and our community healthy.


Benefits to Buying Fresh Local Food

Fresh tasting, healthy food is hard to come by, especially when local farms compete with major food distributors like Wal-Mart for consumer loyalty. Generally U.S. consumers have fewer options for purchasing fresh-tasting, long-lasting food at major supermarket chains.

Recently grassroots movements across the country have risen to promote the purchase of fresh, farm-grown and -raised products by teaching consumers about the various benefits to buying fresh food locally.

Fresher Taste
A recent study shows that the majority the food sold in U.S. markets travels from long distances. The farther the distance food travels, the shorter its shelf life. Lancaster County residents are lucky to enjoy fresh-tasting, locally grown food purchased from farmers markets, community-supported farmers, grocers, restaurants, bakers, cafés, and caterers who sell locally grown farm products.

Food Safety
Consumers have the advantage of knowing where their food was grown, since they are buying directly from the source. Locally grown foods tend to have less or no exposure to pesticides, hormones, or other biochemical agents used to grow food.

Lancaster County consumers can save more money buying locally grown food. Farmers and other vendors sell their products directly to consumers, eliminating the middleman. Farmers charge retail prices instead of wholesale. The costs of local farmers traveling to the market are lower than the national average, thus making fresh food affordable for lower income families.

Support Local Economy
Buying fresh food helps keep Lancaster County farms from going out of business. Although over 60,000 acres of Lancaster County’s farmland are protected under Pennsylvania state law, many small farmers need support from their fellow Lancastrians.

In addition, keeping the money within the local community strengthens the tax base of the community.

Direct Marketing
This alternative marketing method allows farmers to market their products directly to the consumers within their local area. Farmers also get a larger piece of the food dollar they would lose through larger food market chains.

There are various ways farmers can sell their food which include:

  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) - Consumers and a local farm enter into a partnership in which the consumers purchase a “share” of the farmland in advance. As shareholders, consumers are entitled to weekly food allowances during harvest season. The advance covers the cost of expenses to the local farm.
  • Farmers Markets - A farmers market is a facility, usually held outdoors, where farmers or vendors sell their products directly to consumers without the aid of a middleman. The market manager oversees the daily operations of the farmers market. They are open seasonally or all year around on various days of the week. Aside from being venues for social gatherings for many Lancastrians and major tourist attractions, farmers markets are principal means for farmers to earn a living. The farmers markets that dot the county help support local farm communities like the Amish and the Mennonites who have lived here for centuries and keep them from losing their land to corporate developers.
  • Food Cooperatives - A cooperative is a voluntary organization of individuals formed for mutual benefit. Food cooperatives are retail businesses owned by a community. The operational structure of co-ops is democratic and is voluntary. Food co-ops are dedicated to providing quality food for its customers by purchasing food grown by local farmers.
  • Farm to Restaurants - Many restaurants in Lancaster County, like George Street Café in Millersville, New Day Café in Marietta, and Pemberley Tea Shop in Lancaster, buy their food from local farms. Many restaurant owners are a part of local organizations such as Buy Fresh Buy Local and the Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network. To find out more check out The Green Pages, the business directory of the Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network at their website:
  • Farm to Schools and Hospitals - Local farms also sell their food products to local institutions. Unfortunately smaller farms are unable to sell their food to local institutions like hospitals and schools. Most institutions purchase their food from large and corporate farms within and outside the U.S. ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, has more on farm to school programs at the following link: Luckily there are publications that help local and small farmers to find government and non-government financial support to start farm-to-institution programs in Lancaster County. The websites of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture have more for information on starting farm-to-institution programs in your area.
  • Grocery Stores - Regional grocery stores like John Herr’s Village Market in Millersville also buy their produce and meats from local farms to keep the local economy strong. Visit them at

Sustain the Environment
Benefits to the environment from buying locally include:

  • Buying food locally helps keep carbon monoxide emissions from vehicles down because of the reduced miles farmers travel.
  • It also keeps small farms at maximum productivity so they stay in business. Preserved farmland keeps the developers from moving in and upsetting its natural state.

Farmers’ Market Economy

National Trend
Farmers markets have grown in popularity in the United States since the 1980s. A recent study conducted by the Agricultural Marketing Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that farmers markets have grown rapidly within the past 14 years (see Fig.1 below).


Farmers Market Growth Chart

Fig. 1 Farmers Market Growth: 1994-2006 Source: Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA)


Market Viability
The success or failure of farmers markets can be attributed to the following factors:

  • The size of the farmers market: How many vendors does the market have? The more the better.
  • Financial support: What funds (vendor fees, community, or government funds), and how much, does the farmers market have to sustain yearly operations?
  • The balance of supply and demand: Is there a demand for fresh local food in the community? Do vendors attract consumers, and vice versa?
  • The market manager: How experienced is the market manager?
  • Product diversity: Does the food sold at the farmers market reflect the subcultures of the community?

Starting a New Farmers Market
If you are interested in starting a farmers market in your area, check out this presentation on Starting a Farmers’ Market: a Guide to Change your Community.

For Vendors: How to Rent and Maintain a Stand
If you are a farmer, baker, or craft maker and you’re ready to rent a stand at your local farmers market, here are a few things you need to know first:

  • Explore the farmers markets in Lancaster County. Find out when they are open for business.
  • Find out who is the market manager.
  • Talk to other vendors.
  • Search for farmers market ads for wanted vendors.

Once you set up a stand in a local farmers market:

  • Know the rules. Get a copy of the farmers market rules and regulations from the market manager.
  • Make sure to produce food for the whole season.
  • Make your stand presentable to customers.
  • Price your food according to its quality.
  • Know your food. Customers will have questions about its freshness, taste, and shelf-life.
  • Take food safety precautions. Illnesses more likely to develop from mishandled and contaminated food.


Farmers’ Markets in Lancaster County

Lancaster County is known for its beautiful farmers markets. Tourists from around the world converge in the Pennsylvania Dutch Country year 'round to visit some of this region’s historic landmarks. Here are some the noted farmers markets in the county:

Central Market (Lancaster, PA)

Located in the heart of the city of Lancaster, Central Market is the oldest operating farmers market in the United States, dating back to the 1730s. It is owned by the city of Lancaster and is managed under the Central Market Trust. It has over 66 vendors housed within its historic landmark facility.

23 N. Market Street
Lancaster, PA 17603
717-291-4723; To rent a stand, call 717-735-6890.

Eastern Market (Lancaster, PA)

Located in the Historic East Side neighborhood of the city of Lancaster, Eastern Market is multi-cultural farmers market that sells fresh food and ethnic cuisine and fresh-cut flowers, and features live entertainment.

Fritz Schroeder
Eastern Market
308 East King Street
Lancaster, PA 17602
717-283-0942, x 204

Root's Country Market & Auction Inc. (Manheim, PA)

Lancaster County’s oldest family-run farmers market, Root's has over 200 vendors which sell fresh produce, meats, poultry, baked goods, flowers, antiques, handmade crafts, and much more.

705 Graystone Road
Manheim, PA 17545
(717) 898-7811
The market accepts standholders’ applications on Mondays the day or week before setting up.

The Green Dragon Farmers’ Market and Auction (Ephrata, PA)

Green Dragon is one of the largest farmers markets on the East Coast. Located on 30 acres of land, 400 local farmers, bakers, florists, antique merchants, and others come to together every Friday for 12 hours. There are 20 acres of parking and it’s free. If you are interested in reserving a stand, procedures, and rules, consult the Information on the All Merchants page at the Green Dragon’s website.

955 North State Street
Ephrata, PA 17522


Food Routes Network and Buy Fresh Buy Local

Many Lancaster County farmers, community activists, and business owners are part of Buy Fresh Buy Local. Buy Fresh Buy Local is the national initiative of the Food Routes Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading the word about supporting local food systems. Their mission is to get Americans to buying fresh food and to support their local farms, their health, and environment.

Food Routes Network partners with the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) to create an online guide to farmers, restaurants, schools, and other institutions that buy their food from local farms.

Restaurant owners, farmers, and stakeholders within Lancaster can log on to the Buy Fresh Local website to have their business listed as a supporter of the Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign. They can also join PASA to connect with the network of farmers and stakeholders who dedicate their lives to helping preserve farmland and helping keep families like yours healthy. For information on Food Routes and its Pennsylvania Buy Fresh Buy Local website, visit and


Healthy and Delectable Dishes

Healthy eating doesn’t have to come at the expense of robust flavor. There are many dishes that have great taste and are good for your health. Here are some delectable dishes you can make right at home. Bon appetit!

Bruschetta with Braised Kale, Pine Nuts, and Olives                      
Servings: 4
Great for the winter
Recipe by: Chef Becky Selengut, Cornucopia

2 bunches kale (dinosaur kale, or lacinato, is my favorite)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
pinch of salt
2 garlic cloves, large, each minced
pinch red chile flakes
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup Kalamata olives, chopped
¼ cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon brown sugar
chicken broth or water, as needed
freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved for garnish
more extra virgin olive oil to drizzle over the top 6 slices of artisan bread
olive oil, as needed

Strip the kale leaves away from the thick stem. Discard the stems. Wash leaves well to remove all grit. Shake water from them but don’t worry about drying them well. Slice into long thin (about ½ inch) strips. Heat oil over medium high heat and sauté shallot until soft. Add a pinch of salt and then the garlic and red chile flakes. Mix well and cook for another minute. Raise heat to high.

Add greens with the water still clinging to them. Add vinegar, olives, raisins, brown sugar, and a few tablespoons of chicken broth or water. Stir, cover, and let greens cook down for 5 minutes.  Stir, add more liquid if greens are dry, cover, and cook for 5-10 more minutes. Taste. Greens should be tender and should be a little bit sweet and sour. Add salt and pepper to taste, toss in the pine nuts, and garnish with Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Toast the bread and rub with a half of a piece of raw garlic and then drizzle with olive oil.

This recipe is also delicious with a poached egg served on top.

More recipes at:

Oven-Roasted Free Range Chicken with Butternut Squash, Oyster Mushrooms, and Garlic                    
Servings: 4
Winter Main Course       
Recipe by: Jayni Carey of Jayni's Kitchen,

1 free range chicken, about 3 ½ pounds (Bauman's Cedar Valley Farms)


2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed (Jayni's backyard garden)
1 teaspoon each fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano, and marjoram, chopped (Jayni's backyard garden)
1 cup white wine (Davenport Orchard and Winery)
1 teaspoon natural sea salt
1/4 teaspoon organic black pepper
3 tablespoons organic extra-virgin olive oil

2 small heads garlic (Jayni's backyard garden)
4 tablespoons organic extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium butternut squash, about 1-½ to 2 pounds (locally grown)
1 medium organic leek

4 ounces oyster mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed (Wakarusa Valley Farm)
natural sea salt and organic black pepper, to taste
1 quarter cup white wine (Davenport Orchards and Winery)

Place the chicken on a cutting board, breast-side down. Using kitchen shears, remove the tail. Butterfly the chicken by cutting down one side of the backbone from the thigh to the wing. Turn the chicken around and cut down the other side of the backbone, wing to thigh. (Or, remove the backbone in the same fashion using a sharp knife.)

Turn the chicken over, breast-side up, and press firmly on the breast to crack the breastbone. Rinse the chicken under cold running water, drain, and pat dry with paper towels. Fold the wings back behind the body joint. Place the chicken in a large, eco-friendly storage bag (or in a shallow pan).

Marinade:  In a small bowl, combine the smashed garlic cloves, herbs, wine, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Pour the mixture over the chicken and seal the storage bag. Turn the bag over several times until the chicken is well-coated with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight, turning the bag several times.

Remove the marinated chicken from the storage bag and place it on a baking rack, breast-side up. Place the rack in a large baking dish and pour the marinade over the chicken. Using a sharp knife, slice about ½ inch off the top off the garlic heads to expose the cloves and trim the root ends. Toss the heads with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place them cut side down under the baking rack. Roast the chicken in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes while preparing the vegetables.

Cut the butternut squash in half, crosswise. Peel both portions with a vegetable peeler. Cut the bottom half of the squash in half, and using a large spoon, scoop out the seed pod. Cut the squash into ¾-inch dice and place in a large bowl. Remove the root end of the leek and most of the green tops. Cut the leek in half, lengthwise. Rinse under cold running water (rinse between the layers to remove sand and dirt), drain and slice into 1/4-inch half-rounds. Place the leek in the bowl with the squash. Season  the vegetables with salt and pepper and toss to coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place the trimmed oyster mushrooms in a separate bowl, season with salt and pepper, and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

After the chicken has cooked for 30 minutes, lift the chicken and baking rack off the baking dish and add the squash and leek mixture to the baking dish. Scatter the mushrooms on top of the squash and turn the garlic heads cut side up. Replace the rack with the chicken and continue roasting for 30 to 45 minutes more, until the chicken, vegetables, and mushrooms are tender. (The total cooking time is 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.)

Remove the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer the vegetables and garlic heads from the baking dish to a warm platter. Pour the pan drippings and browned bits in the baking dish into a fat separator. Remove the fat and pour the pan juices into a small saucepan, add 1/4 cup of white wine and simmer for about 2 minutes to reduce slightly. Cut the chicken into quarters and top with the wine sauce. Serve the vegetables and garlic on the side.

Wine Recommendation: 2006 Davenport Chardonel from Davenport Vineyard.

Dutch Apple Cake
Cook Time:  3.5 hours
Year-round Dessert      
Recipe by: Karen Hudson

A heavenly holiday cake with a crispy glazed crust. Decorate with dollops of sweetened cinnamon cream.

1 ½ cups oil, GMO-free canola best
3 organic eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pecans
2 cups Winesap or Jonathan Apples, thinly sliced
½ cup raisins
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup brown sugar
1 stick organic butter
¼ cup organic milk or half and half


Combine oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in apples, pecans, and raisins. Bake in a 10" greased and floured tube or bundt pan 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

When cake is finished baking, combine glaze mixture and cook 3 minutes over medium flame. Pour hot glaze mixture over hot cake. (loosen edge with knife to let glaze run down sides) Let set 2 hours. Turn cake out of pan onto large plate, glaze side down. Serve cake with dollops of sweetened cinnamon whipped cream and whole pecans.


Other National Organizations

Farmers Market Coalition
If you are just starting a farmers market or you need some support, this coalition was founded with you in mind. The Farmers Market Coalition is an advocacy group for farmers markets in the United States. The organization is a partner with the United States Agricultural Marketing Service and the Ford Foundation, among other organizations. Visit their website at

The Wallace Center for Sustainable Agriculture – Winrock International
Winrock International is a non-profit organization that works in the United States and around the world to support a sustainable environment, to protect natural resources, and to expand economic opportunity. The Wallace Center for Sustainable Agriculture is a unit of Winrock International. It helps support farmers markets and other enterprises that help bring economic opportunities to the local communities. It also has guides to starting your very own farmers market. Go to for more information.

The National Farmers Direct Marketing Association
The trade organization provides information, support, and advocacy for family farms. It promotes food security, farmland preservation, and the purchase of locally grown food. It is one of the national partners of the Food Routes Network. To become a member, go to

Harvest Eating
Harvest Eating is an online web source for eating seasonal, healthy, and locally grown organic food. Harvest Eating features educational material, expert advice, and recipes from chef Keith Snow. Visit for more information.

Chez Panisse Foundation
The acclaimed chef/owner Alice Waters founded the Berkeley, California-based organization to promote alternative eating solutions for school children that promote good health and a sustainable environment. The foundation partners with local schools to providing lunch programs for children. Children actively participate in the preparation and cooking of their food. Click the following link for more information:

Slow Food USA
Slow Food USA is an educational organization dedicated to sustain the food system of the United States and the worldwide. Slow Food believes that our food systems should be “good” -- producing fresh, great-tasting food; “clean” -- harvested through methods that are friendly to the environment and promote biodiversity; and “fair” – produced by people who are paid for their labor and are treated fairly. Visit for more information.

Sustainable Table - GRACE
This program of the GRACE organization provides information, recipes, and multimedia to promote and celebrate the movement to buy locally grown food across the country. Visit for more valuable information and recipes.


Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

The commonwealth takes interest in the welfare of its citizens. The PA Department of Agriculture houses many programs and provides grants to organizations that start up CSAs, farmers markets, and farm-to-school programs. PA Preferred™ is a nationally recognized initiative to support local farmers in the Keystone State.

Businesses and institutions all over Pennsylvania take part the department’s mission to further the economic advancement of Pennsylvanian farms and to give information to anyone who desires to have a healthy living.

For more information access the PA Department of Agriculture’s website here at


USDA Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) set up the Food and Nutrition Service in 1969 to help low-income women and children have access to nutritious food. In 1992 Congress established the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) as a partnership with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman Infants and Children (WIC).

The program provides fresh, locally grown food to WIC participants and strives to increase the growth of farmers markets. FMNP currently operates in 38 states, including Pennsylvania. WIC participants should contact their local WIC agency for more information.

FMNP also provides senior citizens with access to healthier food. The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program gives grants to states to provide low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for fresh food at farmers markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture programs (CSAs).

A recent report states that low-income citizens are at an increased risk for various diseases including heart disease, hypertension, chronic diseases, gastrointestinal disease, and various forms of cancer. An increased intake of fresh produce in diets appear to substantially decrease the risks of developing these diseases.


The Global Food System

The global food system faces rough challenges. Various factors contribute to the disparity of access to healthy fresh food. The greater challenge is for nations to have long-term sustainability of agricultural, social-economic, and environmental systems that play a key role in providing poor people with quality food sources.

  • Economic Challenges - Poorer nations are at a disadvantage in maintaining food sovereignty. Local farmers in underdeveloped nations are pushed to the point of obscurity due to the centralization of the food market. Most of the income of the poor is spent on food. Food prices are high in poorer nations compared to economically prosperous nations.
  • Political Challenges - Many underdeveloped nations do not have the advocacy or the political power to bring about policy changes in their governments.
  • Environmental Challenges - Poverty and inappropriate management of new technologies may lead to the mismanagement of water and natural resources in poor farmlands. Also, some farmers are more willing to accept genetically modified seed than richer countries due to hunger and malnutrition. However, this is reversible with the help proper use of technologies.


Global Initiatives

The fight for a sustainable world also happens outside the United States. Many non-profit organizations work to not just secure food for millions of poor people in the world, but to provide necessary strategies for political change in those countries to bring about sustainable outcomes.

The Worldwatch Institute
Founded in 1974, Worldwatch is an independent research institute founded to disseminate information on global sustainability to decision makers within the public and private sectors. Worldwatch recently published a report called Home Grown: The Case For Local Food in a Global Context. It reports that nearly everyone in the world depends on food that has traveled long distances. Though there are a great number of food choices, there is greater amount of the use of fossil fuels, the food isn’t fresh, and local farms are put out of business. Worldwatch also publishes reports related to renewable energy, the promoting of local businesses, and strategies to eliminate hunger around the world. Visit the Institute’s website at

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Founded in 1945, this specialized United Nations agency is in the business of eliminating hunger. It serves as a neutral forum for both developed and underdeveloped countries. Visit FAO’s website at

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
This non-profit organization based in our nation’s capital helps governmental and nongovernmental organizations find sustainable solutions to end poverty. This means that IFPRI does research to find ways to help eliminate poverty through means that benefit the environment. Visit IFPRI’s website here:

La Via Campesina
This independent international organization was first organized in 1993 to combat social injustice and gender inequality. This group is made up of peasants, small and medium-sized farmers, women, and indigenous people from 56 countries across the world.

One of the movement’s objectives is to fight for food sovereignty. Food sovereignty is the right of a sovereign nation to provide food for its citizens, and the right to decide its own policies specific to its cultural and economic situation. Food sovereignty is very different from food aid. Food aid is provided by an outside entity to another who is in need. The term was first coined in 1996 at La Via Campesina meeting. Visit the movement’s website at



Who would have thought that buying fresh food locally would affect Lancaster County, let alone the world? Having a sustainable community is the goal of millions of people around the globe and here in Lancaster. You can join this formidable movement to change the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country for the better.

This site was created by Jason Oliver Evans ( who is a student at Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Last updated on February 10, 2008

© 2007 Millersville University. All Rights Reserved.