Monday, July 11, 2011

Support your local farmer!

When I was a little girl, I used to tell people that when I grew up I wanted to own a farm in Maplewood, New Jersey -- Maplewood, New Jersey, being the most bucolic place I had been at the time. (Whether this desire was a result of watching too much Green Acres or being an unhappy city kid I do not know. But running a small farm seemed like paradise to my six-year-old self.)

As I got older and saw more of the world, the thought of living in Maplewood, New Jersey, and running a farm receded. I was going to be a city girl and run a magazine! But I still liked the idea of growing things, as my mother did during our summer sojourns on the East End of Long Island.

So imagine my excitement when, finally, 11 years ago, the spouse and I moved to a house with a big yard, seemingly perfect for a vegetable and flower garden! And imagine my keen disappointment when one neighbor after another warned me not to bother planting a garden as the deer and/or other critters would make quick work of whatever vegetables and flowers we grew. (And yes, we thought of getting a deer fence, but that did not deter deer and burrowing critters from ruining our neighbor's garden. And frankly, gardening seemed like an awful lot of thankless work, especially with a job and a young child to look after.)

Fortunately, every summer I can get a vicarious farming thrill (picking the fruits -- and veggies -- of someone else's labor!) by visiting Quail Hill Farm (where the first two pictures, below, were taken), where my stepfather, a member, takes my daughter (and me) picking whenever we visit. And this year, as an added bonus, our friend, Carissa, a truly gifted baker who just started Carissa's Breads, is selling her breads (pictured below) and muffins and pies at Quail Hill Farm on picking days.

And now there is yet another organic farm in town (that is my stepfather's town) for us to visit, Amber Waves Farm, which grows and mills its own wheat* (see pictures, below), as well as many wonderful vegetables (like squash and zucchini and rainbow kale and garlic) and herbs.

Walking around Amber Waves Farm with co- founder/farmer Katie Baldwin (her partner, Amanda Merrow, spent most of the time weeding) really made us appreciate the value of local farms -- and how much work and love and passion farming takes. Indeed, I have a whole new appreciation for farming after this weekend, and will be patronizing our local farmer's markets more often.

So if you want to truly invest in America, support your local farm(er) -- either through Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), by visiting your local farmer's market, or buying locally grown produce!

*and now hops, which it plans to sell to local microbreweries! Mmm... beer.


Anonymous said...

I already support my "local" farmers....I shoot their rabbits !!!

Chris Harris said...

Jennifer, such a lovely piece! Thanks for spreading the good word. Nice to you all this past weekend, even so briefly.


Chris Harris