On Thursday night I participated in a Sustainable Farming Panel sponsored by the Scarborough Library Society. Our humble group was back by popular demand. I stared out at the group wondering what knowledge I had that could possibly be worth sharing. I soon realized that the group was not necessarily interested in cover crops, and the mineral make-up of the soil. They were looking for ways to truly support their local community including their local farmer. And on that subject I happen to be an expert.
If you turn on the news, it seems that our world has gone crazy. Between the natural disasters, the fires, articles about food scarcity, the threat of nuclear attack and the hate......it can be hard to get out of bed. And while I am laying in bed I wonder just what kind of world my kids will grow up in. One thing I have never worried about is our community. The people I encounter on a weekly basis have love in their hearts and a true desire to help one another. While I may not be able to solve all of the worlds problems I can tell you how you can support your local agricultural community.
Come to the Farmers Market in the Rain. As Farmers we are forced to adapt. A little water falling from the sky is not going to slow us down. There is no such thing as a fare weather farmer. Our animals still need food and water, those eggs need to be gathered and washed, and the plants in the greenhouse still need to be watered. So no matter what, we will have the goods. We might even have more because we went ahead and picked those tomatoes for fear too much rain would cause them to split. While many of us irrigate, nothing replaces rain. So our plants are happier, therefore producing more.
Consider Joining a CSA CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Back in the day, you know the 60's and 70's you would give your farmer money for seed and then you would get a "share" of the yield. You could also earn your share by physically working in the garden. The advantage to the farmer is that they have money to purchase that seed, and a guaranteed outlet for their produce, meat, or eggs. I think Leslie my fellow panelist summed it up by saying "With a guaranteed outlet, it allows us to sleep at night." With your money up front we can make better choices and really go for it whether it's adding an additional flock of chickens, or trying a different type of tomato. If we did not have those funds at that time, we might save that project for next year.
Cook or Learn to Cook Trust me I get it. I too lead a busy life. But I encourage you to make this a priority. Find some videos on youtube, or a blog, or sign-up for a cooking class at a local kitchen supply store. But do it. Creating in the kitchen is my art. It is my zen. And with practice I am confident it can be yours too. No, when you first start out your dish is not going to be featured in the next issue of Food and Wine. But it is going to nourish your body and you will make notes on what could be improved. And, because you went to the farmers market you are starting with the freshest ingredients. You are ahead of the game. You can't make good food without good ingredients. You are feeding yourself. You've got this.
Eat with your Family Whether it is with your immediate family or a friend or neighbor. Put down the screen, look one another in the eye and talk to one another. I know you are busy. But some of my fondest memories growing up are with my family around the kitchen table. We laughed, connected and shared our day over a good meal. Research has proven that a shared meal together can have a positive impact on your family. That connection reduces stress and anxiety in our children. It boosts confidence, and helps with nutrition to maintain a healthy weight. Parents have the most influence on our children. We need to be setting a good example. With our fast paced lives, it is more important than ever to foster this connection. Eating together is such a simple way for us to check in on one another without being intrusive. With an established system a child is more likely to reach out if they need our help.
Learn the Seasonality of our food. Have you ever tasted a tomato right off of the vine? I have and it is not that cardboard gassed impostor in the supermarket. It takes more than a sign placed above some pink balls for it to truly be a tomato in my eyes. Potatoes that you can taste where they were grown, zucchini that is firm, and cucumbers that are crisp are worth it in my opinion. Greens that don't need to be soaked in bleach water to keep from spoiling during their long journey to our grocery store.... also worth it. A massaged kale salad with roasted winter squash and turnips are on my menu this week. Our ancestors ate from their gardens and were better for it. Eating seasonally has less of an impact on our environment and is great for our bodies as well.
What do you do to support your local farmer?
Continue to follow me for more ways to eat locally and seasonally. As well as other shenanigans on our farm.