Monday, June 5, 2017

The Importance of Supporting Local Family Farms

Do you believe in supporting locally-owned and operated farms? I think there is something amazing about pulling off the road where a small produce stand is located, perhaps just a basic table with a canopy over it, or sometimes a fancy set up with a wagon and portable display. I always find myself sort of eying up the person who may be present - I wonder if they are REALLY the owner, the operator of the farm, a family member maybe. Does it really matter? I guess not....technically, but part of me is always sort of in awe at the fruits of their labor, gawking a bit at the sweeping fields stretched out behind the stand and admiring the barns and farming equipment that dot the landscape. Not in the sort of way that I think they are so different or strange, but more with the sense of WOW....a real third or fifth generation farm family STILL lives here, continues to make their living, remains a part of this place where their blood and roots and ties run deep.

Here in my corner of the Peninsula we've come to know who's who and what's been around and a part of the local community for years and decades and generations. I'm fortunate to have a multitude of places and farms and tables with the small canopy over them, some staffed with a familiar face and others with just a cash box to leave the money. This is nothing new for me to seek out the locals since the concept of spending nearby and with independent business owners is strongly a part of who I am, but I do love interactions with people when I can see exactly what I'm dealing with. Warm and fuzzy feelings perhaps? Maybe. But seeing a kid selling what THEIR family farm has produced, sometimes with a parent or grandparent hovering in the background, I don't sort of just make me celebrate a little bit inside knowing that I'm speaking with people who ARE indeed, the heart and soul of their piece of land. And it's not just about business; one of the families down the street from us are fourth generation volunteer fire company members; the relatives of another farm have always been involved in their town, local church and community.

Of course I can't come out and SAY that because 1, nothing labels you as a nut by acting all gaa-gaa and silly over "meeting a real farmer" and 2, because I don't want to insult anyone or make them feel weird. But at the same time I do really care and I appreciate the opportunity to purchase from that "real farm". Not everyone gets that but to those of us who grew up without roots, fractured families, and lack of ties to something tangible, sometimes being able to identify what is truly a part and product of the community? To me that is a golden experience - being able to thank someone for telling me what's going to be available next week - for them taking the time to answer a question - or explain how to cook squash (since my culinary skills are somewhat questionable). The few opportunities when one of these "real farmers" walked over to talk a little bit or share some information about the animals I was admiring - those moments not only reinforced who they are but gave me that tiny bit of connection that matters. It tells me they are real and genuine, that they have a stake in what they are doing for a living and are a part of the land that they love, that I don't have to question if I found "the real deal". It's what makes me go out of my way and skip over some products at the grocery story for the chance to instead drive down a back country road and make another stop. Maybe it's feeling as if where I spend and what I choose does actually matter? Because for a transplant who's never know something so permanent - who can only imagine what it's like to have this rich history and such generational ties to the area - moments like these are experiences worth savoring.

Here are some graphics and images to save and share. Just right-click to open any of them in a new window for a larger version. I hope you also "get" that love of local that I find within my corner of the world and thanks for reading.