Through the years we have learned a lot about community supported agriculture through our involvement in food coops and visiting farms around the Midwest, as well as making friends in the agricultural community and operating our own CSA farm. This year has been an eye-opener to us with so many new connections being made on our new farm with our awesome surrounding community and customers. It has become very apparent to us that building a close network of food producers and customers is the key to building the health of our communities, whether on a rural area, a small town, or a large city. Food is what connects us all to the earth and eating is one of our most important daily activities. To neglect being mindful of our nourishment is really what has created such an explosion of diet related illnesses, such as obesity and heart disease. How do we become mindful of our nourishment? By connecting with our food directly. There is nothing like picking a ripe tomato off the vine and eating it in the garden under the warm sunshine. It is a far cry from the tomatoes sprinkled on a fast food burrito. And that is where our farm can play a part in the health of our communities. We can facilitate this connection, and we feel that this is one of the most important jobs that we could ever have. Sometimes it is exhausting work, with hard labor and heartbreak around every corner, and sometimes it is wonderful sweetness to take care of our animals and vegetables every day and watch them grow and thrive. But at the end of each day we know that this work is important, not only for us and the animals and vegetables, but for our customers. We raise the best food we can not only to sustain us, but also to help them on their journey toward mindful nourishment.
We have also become very aware of the important economic role that small farms can play in rural areas. If you didn’t know this already, rural areas are in the process of slow disintegration, due to the lack of good jobs and opportunities for work out there. We look around and see a lot of large dairy farms, huge turkey factories, beef steers in feedlots, and field after field of corn and soybeans. Well, my friends, this is not a sustainable and healthy vision of agricultural independence. Small-scale diversified farms are few and far between. We are lucky to have a few great examples of small-scale farming in our community, and you know what? These progressive folks are out on the cutting edge of the future of real sustainable agriculture. And our goal is to be on that edge as well. But it’s not an easy place to be, and we are relearning basic small-scale farming practices as we grow and learn here on our farm.
Can small-scale diversified farms be the backbone of a rural economy? We think so, but we have to show the world that it is possible here in our region. How do we go about doing that? The only way to accomplish this is by connecting the customers who crave real good food to the farms that produce it . But even then we are not done, because the art of food preparation and preservation has been lost with the passing of older generations. So we must teach each other how to cook and eat and preserve all these delicious foods that are produced organically and with love and care.
So the challenge in the coming years is not only to support small farms and the food we produce, but also to facilitate the connections between our farms and our customers, wherever they may be. And we can’t stop there, we must also co-educate each other about the joys of cooking and preserving the foods that sustain our very lives through-out the year. For small-scale diversified farmers and real food hungry customers, there is so much to learn about and so much to do that the field is endless. Essentially we are relearning what our ancestors already knew, but this is yet another connection to cherish, our connection with our own history.
It’s gonna be an adventurous journey, but in the end we’re sure we’ll make it there, because, well, we have to.