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Food, Community, and Culture: Farmer Jake Daigle on The Benefits of Locally-Grown Groceries

What if your groceries could connect you to your community, improve your health, and create a healthier planet? 

In this interview with farmer Jake Daigle, he explains how choosing to shop for locally-grown groceries not only supports environmental sustainability and the local economy but also fosters a stronger community and encourages a more conscious relationship with the foods we eat.

Here’s what he told us. 

SOMO Village: Why should people consider buying locally-grown groceries? 

As a farmer, I think it’s wonderful to have people looking for you and supporting you, as opposed to just going to big box stores and buying whatever they see on the shelfwhich might not even come from our country, let alone the local foodshed.

From a consumer perspective, buying locally helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions tied to transporting these items from other places, supports the local economy, and also offers health benefits because of reduced pesticides and things like that. 

You hear about this term a lot in the context of wine, but terroir—the way a region’s soil, climate, and farming traditions impact the food grown there—will affect vegetables as well. 

For example, the stress a plant endures will affect how many essential oils it produces. The plant’s sugar content is also affected by how nutritious the soil is. Local food is also more flavorful and packed with all of the nutrition you need.

Can you explain the connection between food, community, and culture? 

I grew up in New Orleans, a place where food is a big part of our culture. There, we cook everything with richness, flavor, butter, and fat. 

It wasn’t until I moved to Sonoma County that I started tasting the subtleties of flavor. I began to realize how incredible it is to eat food straight from the plant—pulling a carrot out of the ground, spraying off the dirt, and taking a big bite. You taste how it’s supposed to taste as opposed to something grown far away and imported. 

When you eat fresh food, you’re tapping into its life force.

Not only does it make you happier because it tastes so good, but it makes you feel better and more vital. 

Food connects to culture through consciousness and awareness.

For one, as I said, there’s an economic and environmental benefit to buying food locally. Doing so is ultimately supporting stronger communities and practicing a degree of environmental stewardship.

Beyond that, there’s a big health implication to buying these foods that starts on a micro level and extends to a macro level. 

It’s a real privilege to have access to whole foods and whole ingredients while eliminating preservatives and chemicals—things that are literally poisoning you. 

We’re living in a poisoned world right now. And I think more and more people are becoming aware of that. 

If we have a society of unhealthy people, it’s a strain on the economy. It impacts everyone’s well-being, health, and mental state. 

The value of health and having what you need so that you can fully realize your potential is huge.

I think that people are becoming more aware of their choices in their lives, and I think it’s super empowering for them to be able to make choices about the foods they eat and serve that are going to be good for themselves, their families, and their friends.

What’s the best way for people in Sonoma County to start buying locally-grown food? 

A great way to start is to look up farmers’ markets in your town. 

They’re a lot of fun.

There’s usually entertainment as well as tons of vendors. You can make a day out of it, go and have lunch, and pick up your groceries. 

They also offer virtually everything you could ever need, and you can experience the food that’s in season in Sonoma County all throughout the year. 

You’ll find everything from egg producers to ranchers that are producing meat to the gardeners that have honey from their hives or fruits and vegetables from their plots. 

It really is an art to be able to have that diversity throughout the year. 

In your opinion, what makes farmers’ markets so important and special? 

This goes back to the connection between food and community—I would strongly encourage you to meet the people who are growing the food. 

When I was selling at farmers’ markets, I loved meeting customers and then having them come back. It’s a chance to form relationships, make new friends, and literally build community because you start to learn about people and their families.

It’s also an amazing chance to connect with the food you’re going to take home and eat—it’s nice to know where it was grown and who’s behind the scenes getting it to your table. 

There’s also an energy exchange that’s involved in those interactions. Beyond just a monetary transaction, you’re showing gratitude for the work they put into growing this food for you. 

You’re also giving your gratitude to the earth for giving us everything that we need. 

I feel like a lot of people, including myself, are becoming more and more aware of how precious our planet is. We are starting to realize that we’re in a reciprocal relationship with the earth wherein if we don’t take care of it, we’re going to lose it.  

Can you talk a bit about the forthcoming Headwaters Farm at SOMO Village? 

The benefits of having a farm in your community are endless. It allows residents to reconnect with the land, see what land stewardship looks like, and have a walkable destination in the community where they can purchase fresh food.

Even just being able to exercise and explore nature is so healing. It’s therapeutic. 

That’s why we’re building our 25-acre Headwaters Farm at SOMO Village.

We’re going to have days where folks can come out and volunteer or be a part of a series or a class or some sort of educational component.

There will also be a barn that we’ll all be able to raise together as a community,

And, most importantly, we’ll be operating as a CSA—Community Supported Agriculture—where you can buy a share or sign up for a membership that comes with incentives like farm dinners, invitations to events, and weekly or biweekly produce boxes.

Learn More About SOMO Village

If you’re interested in living in a sustainable community that fuses the best of city living with the country lifestyle and all the amazing things that Sonoma County has to offer, we invite you to visit SOMO Village. To learn more, download our residential project brief or get in touch with us today.

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