Pick your own, help a neighbor

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Charlotte.com is offering a database of pick-your-own local farms. You can search by county or the type of produce you're interested in picking. So far, they have 28 farms listed, but that list could grow.

There are only two Mecklenburg County farms listed, Hall Family Farm in southeast Charlotte and the Huntersville Berry and Vegetable Farm. At both you can pick your own vegetables. At Hall's you'll also find strawberries while the Huntersville farm offers blackberries.

Not satisfied with The Observer's list? PickYourOwn.org offers a little more information, and by geographical region verses by county. They also offer phone numbers, Web sites and e-mail addresses for the farms.

Unfortunately, you'll also scan updates like "Closed permanently." Fortunately, you'll find out which farms offer organic fruits and veggies.

PickYourOwn.org also offers information on opening and closing times, restroom availability and, sometimes, prices in addition to tips on how to pick, canning and more.

But, why pick your own when you could drive to your neighborhood grocery store instead? For starters, you'll be helping local farmers.

Additionally, for many of us who won't be going on family vacations this summer, finding a pick-your-own farm represents an opportunity for an inexpensive road trip, a little fun in the sun, a chance to commune with nature and get some exercise -- all for the price of a tank of gas (or less) and a few bucks for some truly delicious produce.

Those aren't the only reasons, though. Check out SustainableTable.org for a more comprehensive look at the many reasons why we should eat local.

Challenge yourself to eat local. Flo did -- in Vermont. In February. If she can do it, we can do it.

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