For breakfast this morning we had a favorite—blueberry muffins* and scrambled eggs. The eggs and blueberries are our own (the blueberries were picked in July and frozen), and the milk is from RI farms.
We make a conscious effort to eat as locally as possible, and we think about where all of the other food we purchase comes from (how was it produced, how far did it travel). Thanks to the commitment and hard work of our local farmers, it is much easier today to uphold these convictions.
On NPR earlier this week Dan Charles had a piece called “Who Are the Young Farmers of ‘Generation Organic’?”. He had just attended a conference at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Tarrytown, NY. Started four years ago, the conference has been selling out, this time months in advance. The attendees are young farmers, in their 20s and 30s, many of whom see their role in the organic, local food movement a “practical form of idealism.”
I have spoken before about Patrick McNiff, of Pat’s Pastured, because I see him fairly often at farmers’ markets, and he is very happy to talk about farming. Like so many other new farmers today, Pat doesn’t come from a family of farmers. He has a master’s in community economic development, and a passion for the care of his animals, land, and the food he produces.
In the NPR piece, Dan Charles talked to “a real old-timer of the local, organic food movement: Jim Crawford, who runs New Morning Farm, in south-central Pennsylvania.” While Jim was in law school in DC, forty years ago, he spent a summer working on a farm. When he returned to law school in the fall, he decided it wasn’t for him, and has been farming ever since. Despite the many ups and downs, one of the key reasons Jim cites for being able to stick with farming is a love for the business side. In talking to Pat, I get the same sense that he truly enjoys—and is good at—business. He likes interacting with his customers (which goes a long way to establishing loyalty); and he seems very involved with the bigger picture of farming in Rhode Island, grappling with issues like scarcity of farmland, land stewardship, and helping younger farmers get started.
These young farmers are trying to make the world a better, safer, healthier place, one crop at a time. I am greatly relieved their numbers are increasing, and for my part, I am happy to support them by buying their delicious food…and paying a fair, realistic price for their effort.
*See recipe tab