Who knew? When I was a kid, I never liked helping my mom in her veggie garden (I blame the Michigan mosquitoes for that), though I did always love to eat peas fresh from the vine.
Then, when I was 20, I was a guest at an off-grid organic (& bio-dynamic) farm. When I ate freshly picked herbs from that land, I could feel their life force radiate into my veins. I know that sounds strange, but there's an incredible difference between fresh, local, lovingly-grown food and trucked-in, several-week-old produce from the grocery store.
Since then, I've become passionate about local food.
Though the sheer physical endurance of farming intimidates me (8-10 hours of field labor a day, 5 days a week), I am drawn to the Earth. Farming is a way for me to learn, contribute, and ground my airy nature. It will also be a good reality check for me - am I really cut out to live on a working homestead with self-sufficient food production? Considering those are my and Morgan's current plans, it'll be good for me to actually experience the daily realities of farm life.
Since you probably aren't going to commit to work as a full-time farm hand, here are some ways you can get involved with your local farms:
- Join a CSA. Community Share Agriculture is, essentially, buying stock in a local farm - you pay an upfront fee (or several installations), the farm uses this money for its production needs, and you get weekly/biweekly deliveries of fresh, local vegetables (or fruit, eggs, dairy, meat...). The variety is great, you eat seasonally, and you build relationships with your local farmers.
- Volunteer at a farm. Many farms allow volunteers, and some do volunteer-for-veggies work trades. Volunteering with your family, and especially your kids, is a great way to connect to your family, your community, and the land.
- Buy & eat local food. If you have access to a farmers' market or local foods co-op, excellent! Shop there. If not, many grocery stores (especially Whole Foods and other natural foods stores) display "I'm a local!" badges on local foods - look for those products. Eating locally is do-able, even in the winter.
- Donate to support local farms. If you'd rather buy out-of-season produce, or have a specific non-local brand that you love, you can still speak with your dollars. Local farms can use as much support as possible, so do a little research, maybe some farm visits, and become a fairy god-mother (a fairy farm-mother?... farmy god-mother? oh dear).
I'll keep you all updated as the growing season progresses - expect a lot more farm-related posts!