Buying Local this Holiday Season

November 28, 2014

triangle land conservancy

As we enter the holiday season, shoppers everywhere should consider buying local, not only for holiday presents but also for produce, meats, and dairy for holiday meals and celebrations. However, it is often difficult to know where to start when shopping for local, sustainable gifts. In this addition of TLC’s “The Dirt” blog, we will summarize the importance of buying local, as well as provide great locations for all your holiday needs, including farmers’ markets, craft fairs, and “experience” gifts.

It turns out that buying local really makes a difference economically; one study by the New Economics Foundation and summarized in Time found that when shoppers purchase local food, “twice the money stayed in the community.” As one of their researchers stated in the same article, “[T]hat means those purchases are twice as efficient in terms of keeping the local economy alive.”

Many claim that buying local is more expensive. While this may be true for some products, if you take into account transportation of the item – and its environmental costs – the real “price” often equalizes. Furthermore, the subsequent increase in local employment, “as well as the relationships that grow when people buy from people they know,” provide manifold benefits beyond the dollars and cents of each purchase.

triangle land conservancy

So, you have decided you want to buy local. But where? One of the many benefits of living in the Triangle is the plentiful array of farmers’ markets, many of which are open year round. Whether you are shopping for finished products, like soaps, honey, or pastries, or looking for the raw produce to make a memorable meal, check out your local farmers’ markets for fresh, great tasting ingredients. The Carrboro Farmers’ Market is open in the winter from 7 a.m. until noon every Saturday, the Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until noon, the Eno River Farmers’ Market is also open from 10 a.m. until noon, and the Hillsborough Farmers’ Market is open from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. – just to name a few.

If you are in the market for non-edible holiday presents, craft fairs may be the perfect place for you. Local artisans display for sale their creations, including clothing, ornaments, purses, jewelry, paintings, and photography. More than 250 local vendors will sell their wares at the Christmas Carousel Holiday Festival in Raleigh, running November 28th through 30th at the N.C. State Fairgrounds. In Carrboro, the Holiday Handmade Pop-Up Market will be held on November 29th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free. The Cary Academy Holiday Shoppe features more than 100 vendors, and is open at Cary Academy from December 4th until December 6th. Finally, the Carolina Designer Craftsmen Crafts Show and Marketplace will host more than 100 artists showcasing their beautiful jewelry, pottery, and so much more. In addition to pieces for sale, this show will feature demonstrations in glass blowing and woodworking, as well as live musical performances. 

A great way to give more sustainable gifts this year is also through “experience” gifts. Do you have a skill others would be interested in learning? Give coupons for guided nature walks (perhaps at a TLC preserve), jewelry-making lessons, knitting sessions, or anything else you can think of! The trick is to follow through with your gifts, giving friends and family a memorable experience and time with you.

If your schedule doesn’t allow for personal coupons, feel free to give experience gifts from other vendors! Give a friend or family member guitar sessions, art classes, sewing lessons, concert, or show tickets. Durham Performing Arts Center always has an amazing line-up of Broadway shows, comedians, and musicians; the Carolina Ballet will be performing The Four Temperaments, Master Composers, Swan Lake, and Cinderella this spring; and the Durham Bulls minor league baseball team will begin their 2015 season in April. All would make unique holiday gifts for kids and adults alike!

This holiday season, make a statement not only with your gifts, but also with where the gifts came from. Buy local, and support your local community during the holidays and all-year-round. And for the many ways you can support TLC year-round, check out this post about our participation in this year’s #GivingTuesday.

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