Much is said about “farm to table” these days. It is a big trend in the food world and a growing number of restaurants are committed to sourcing locally so their customers have the freshest and best food choices. I love it and am committed as well to building relationships with local family owned farms and supporting them as best I can by buying local and seasonal. Whenever possible, I buy direct. Living in the middle of farm country, I am fortunate to have the resources available and love that it affords me the opportunity to see how and where my food is raised. I know I am giving myself and my family the best possible nourishment and it makes my heart glad and my soul happy, not to mention my taste-buds.
Recently, I was visited by my daughter and her two children, ages 11 and 6. Living in the mountains in Northern California, the altitude and short growing season prohibits much farming in their immediate area so they are reliant on the growers in the valley. They belong to a CSA (Community Support Agriculture) and receive a weekly produce box but do not witness farming up close and personal on a regular basis. With this in mind we decided a trip to some local farms was in order. Top on our list was a visit to Five Green Acres.
Just five minutes from our home, owned by friends, this small farm provides us with eggs and chicken. In addition, they raise sheep for wool, turkeys and coming soon, pigs! Check out their site for product information, many beautiful photos and stories of this family’s adventures on their land. Thirty minutes from here is an Amish community where we saw a glimpse of their rustic lifestyle and viewed their farming practices and efforts to live off the land. Each homestead had a beautiful vegetable garden and I know many hours are spent preserving food for the Winter. We were able to stop at local farm stands and shop at their grocery and supply store. Their respect for their land is apparent in all you see there.
Last but certainly not least was our big adventure to the strawberry farm. Nothing says Summer like fresh picked berries. Succulent and sweet they speak volumes of the goodness of nature and its local bounty. Since strawberries are on the dirty dozen list of highly sprayed produce, we researched where we could go to pick our own that are grown without sprays and using sustainable practices. A half hour in the opposite direction from the Amish we found
The Schmidt Family Farm . This forty acre parcel outside of Columbus, WI was purchased by the Schmidt family in hopes of building a home and growing crops employing best practices. They are not yet certified organic but you need not be concerned about harmful chemicals here. This is truly a family enterprise with Mom in charge of strawberries and raspberries, Dad in charge of garlic and the sons growing popcorn.
Our mission that day was strawberries but I signed up for notification when the garlic is harvested. Can’t wait, especially since I neglected to plant my own last Fall. OK back to the berries. Three varieties were available for picking; Jewel, Sparkle and Annapolis.
Love those names! We couldn’t resist trying all three as they differ in size and taste but we were not able to choose a favorite. They were all juicy, sweet and mouth-watering. My grandson, Ezra, who is six and suffers from fruit mania was truly in heaven. He may have eaten more than he put in his bucket but he came home with plenty and was a happy boy.
The little beauties went into smoothies, jam, tarts and shortcakes. I still have some frozen in my freezer for later use as well. A culinary delight and a seasonal prize for certain. Visit the Schmidt’s website and if possible, plan a visit. The experience for us was delightful. We will be going again guaranteed!
Regardless of where you live, you too can make a commitment to support small family farms. You will be better for it if you eat seasonal and local. Build relationships with the farmers. One of the easiest ways is by visiting your local farmer markets and striking up a conversation about products and farming practices. You will be amazed at how much you learn and how willing farmers are to share information. I have discovered so many new vegetables and ways to fix them by doing just that. I urge you to go as soon as possible. By the way, you will also learn about resources for CSA’s and other products as well. Worth the time, believe me.
Where does your food come from? I know I would rather have my produce and other products from a nearby supplier that have them shipped from Mexico or Peru. How about you? Be sure to share your local food experiences.
Meantime, spread the love one dish at a time. Feed your family and support another.