Farming From Home

My husband and I both come families with large farms.  He calls us the second generation off of the farm though. Our parents moved away from the family farm for college and raised us far enough away that we don’t know the technical aspects of the process, but with frequent visits so that we have first-hand knowledge of the products. Now that we live in the city, we appreciate this proximity to farmland, and this past weekend, I traveled to the family pig pickin’, an annual reunion where where the older generation welcomes the younger ones.  The outdoor event doesn’t require any open doors, since renters occupy the old farmhouse, so they bring everything in – a small hog, smoked long hours, a portable plastic out-house, and plenty of drinks in rolling coolers. In addition to eating delicious food, we spend the afternoon spurring over the best college teams and catching up with family and friends.

Our host greeted new visitors with a big “Welcome to the Country,” and I was amazed at how many of the younger kids had never been to a farm before.  The explored the corn that was tall enough to be just above eye level and questioned what kind of wildlife could be found lurking in the swamp toward the back of the property.  On the drive out, we saw two deer grazing on the sprouting peanut plants.

As much as I support area farmer’s markets, I also think its important for the next generation to see how they food is grown, and not just inherit the mentality that we need to eat local.  Some of the produce at our neighborhood farmer’s market travels more than an hour to get here, probably more if they get stuck in traffic, and the prices often reflect that expense.  In recent weeks, strawberries have been going for $6 a pint, an astronomical amount when compared to the chain grocery store next door, which had a quart priced at $2.50 this week.  Arguably, those strawberries traveled a lot further to get to my table, and they probably won’t have the same fresh-picked taste, but I have trouble paying so much just for a taste of summer.  I definitely want to find a pick-your own farm, where I can take in the full experience, rather than pay the mark-up of the city farmer’s market.

I also plan to embrace the farm from home idea in my own small way through pots of herbs and vegetables and still support the neighborhood farmer’s market, which in addition to the seasonal produce has an excellent selection of pastries and frozen treats, as well as fully cooked meals that I could never reproduce in my own kitchen.  Check out this list of locations in the district to find one near you.

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