Get to Know Your Farmer
When you are shopping at the grocery store, where does your money go? Who are the individuals you are supporting? How do they see the world? What are their values?
There is a lot to be said about knowing the person who grows your food. No longer are the tomatoes in your pantry just tomatoes – they are Farmer Suzy’s tomatoes. If you want to know more about her practices, who she is as a person – you can. Local farming puts a recognizable face on your dinner plate.
But how do you get to know your local farmer? We have a few suggestions
1) Go early to the Farmer’s Market: Meet the farmers when it counts. If you arrive near the opening of the farmer’s market, not only will there be the freshest of produce, but the farmer might have extra time to talk, answer questions, and make introductions.
2) Be Polite, Be Considerate: If the farmer’s stand at market is overrun with people, do not fight for their attention or bog down their time. While they are very happy for your business, markets can get hectic and there is no reason to add extra stress to their day. A pleasant hello is enough.
3) Ask Questions, Mindfully: When you are trying to live a consistently mindful lifestyle, you often want to know every detail of the history of your food. Asking questions about the qualities of a specific heirloom are perfectly fine. If you are looking for an organic or low spray vendor, it is appropriate to inquire (they will often advertise as such.) But try to pick up on social queues. No one wants to be interrogated, but most farmers are happy to talk about the produce they put so much work into.
4) Find Out Their Farm Store Hours: Is there a farm near your house? Get to know when their farm store will be open, and make it a regular trip.
5) Go on a Farm Tour: You may be lucky enough to live in the kind of community where farm tours take place. Farm tours are a fun way to see the farm in action, and leave lasting impressions.
6) Find a Farm Event: What is even better than a farm tour? Social farm events like Barn Dinners, Cook Outs, Garlic Parties, Tomato Tastings, and Strawberry Festivals. Right now harvest season is in full force, so it is the perfect time to find a fun farm party. It’s also a great way to get to know your community!
7) Join a CSA: Community Supported Agriculture is a great way to get a weekly pick of fresh veg, as well as feel like you are a part of something. Often CSA pick up days are a wonderful time to meet farmers and other CSA members. There are even farms that offer winter CSAs. Farmers have a sweet spot for the awesome people directly investing in their farm!
8) Find them on Online: Website, Facebook, or other Social Media can be great places to connect. More and more farmers are making a presence online. Posting on their wall or emailing them is a personal way to reach out, and they can respond at their own speed when they aren’t in the fields. It’s also a great way to stay up to date on farm happenings. Websites like farmplate are an excellent means of finding farmers and food artisans near you.
Supporting local agriculture makes a big difference to your community, and it also creates wonderful opportunities to try fresh vegetables and fruits which you can trace right back to the source. A real win/win.
Photos courtesy Thom Callahan Call.