The farmers markets are open. Summer can officially start.
The Pasco and Prosser markets opened last month. The Southridge, Richland and West Richland markets open this week.
And with some staggered planning, you can shop just about any day of the week.
On Wednesday morning, you can go to Pasco; on Wednesday evening visit the West Richland site or the market at Barnard Griffin winery in south Richland.
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On Thursday evening, you can shop at Southridge near the sports complex. Friday mornings, the market is open in Richland. And on Saturday, it's back to Pasco or Prosser.
Coming later this season a Sunday market will be open on Keene Road.
And from Wednesday to Friday you also can buy local produce from the Northwest Regional Food Hub. The co-op, which pools producers and customers, is at 603 Goethals Drive, Richland.
For a complete list of markets, hours and location, go to bitly.com/Midcolmarkets online.
There also are a couple of farmers offering delivery service of their products to pickup sites through the Mid-Columbia.
All this is in addition to the seasonal local produce stands.
We are fortunate to live in an agricultural center.
Not only are there a lot of places to support our farmers, but each market also brings a variety of produce to your table.
It's almost a guarantee that you will be able to try several new foods every week and still not get through everything this area has to offer.
We're to the part of the year where something new is in season every week.
First it's asparagus, then strawberries and cherries.
Soon, you will be able to fill your plate with every color of the rainbow.
As close as we live to where much of our food is grown, too many of us still are far removed from the growing process.
A few tomato plants on the patio doesn't make you a farmer, but it helps to give you an appreciation of how things grow.
A visit to a farm is eye-opening as well.
There are lots of reason to eat local, fresh food when you can. Our farmers grow hundreds of types of crops.
Fresh food has more nutrients and it just tastes better. Some nutrients, like vitamin C, are lost when crops are shipped long distances.
Buying closer to home saves on shipping costs and creates a smaller carbon footprint, and it supports your friends and neighbors who grow food.
Shopping at the farmers markets is good for you, good for the community and better for the world.
This summer is the perfect time to pick up something you know that you love, and to try something new.