The CSA Theory of Bookstores

This is a just-picked purple kohlrabi plant from Duck Run Farm, a duck, chicken, and vegetable farm not far from us, in Pittsboro. We’ve joined Duck Run’s vegetable CSA and the kohlrabi came yesterday, along with pak choi, braising greens, and salad greens. I think this plant looks like an alien or a spaceship, and I’m excited to try it tonight in a salad. 

It seems like I know more and more farmers these days–flower farmers, duck farmers, goat cheese makers.  The people I know who aren’t farming are joining CSAs and shopping regularly at farmers’ markets–and they aren’t alone. The number of farmers’ markets in the U.S. has tripled since 1994; it’s a fast-growing segment of the economy, partly because people appreciate that the money they spend with local farmers stays right in their community. Walkerton even has a farmers’ market now.

I seem to know fewer booksellers than farmers, but book-shopping is another great way to support your local economy. And independent bookstores give back in major ways. They give discounts through membership clubs, are glad to order anything they don’t have in stock, and hold readings and events that the chain booksellers might not. When I taught in Durham, The Regulator Bookshop opened their reading space for my fifth graders any time I asked, and Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill hosts free writing seminars on the weekends. Independent booksellers are also more likely to nudge you in the kohlrabi direction–surprising and fresh–rather than steering you to the literary potato chip aisle.

On my book tour, I’m going to visit a lot of independent bookstores, and I hope to post a little report here about each of them. Meanwhile, here are two websites for finding independent bookstores and farmers markets: Indiebound (for books) and Local Harvest (for food).

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