Sunday, August 29, 2010

From Farm to Table in 24 Hours

I found this dandelion yesterday, while walking through a field.... this valley, alongside a river that flows from the
Northern Cascades toward the Pacific Ocean.

We were visiting the small organic farm of a young woman who is, perhaps, still in her late twenties.  She wasn't there at the time, since Saturday is her day to sell at the local farmers' market; but she farms a 4-acre parcel, and along with a handful of other growers, shares some of the outbuildings and equipment of the farmer who leases the ground.  The farmers work independently but cooperatively to fill weekly CSA boxes and to get fresh produce to restaurants and farmers' markets from late spring through late fall. 

Seeds are started and bulb crops are dried in the greenhouses.

A single tractor plows the parcels and these large "rakes" are
sometimes used to measure off the locations for transplants.

Crops are planted and weeded on hands and knees.

Once harvested (by hand)...

...they're transported in boxes, via these oversized wheelbarrows... the sorting and washing stations...

....or to one of the long dark barns for drying.

Stakes are pulled and stored for future crops....

....and beautiful, organic produce finds it way to the table within 24 hours.

Like other small-scale growers, this woman is working seven days a week to make a living. And when we saw her at the farmers' market, she was cheerfully selling her produce -- all of it beautifully merchandised, and much of it, by the way,  planted, weeded, watered, harvested and packed by my daughter, who's spent the last two summers working for her while gaining a firsthand understanding of the local and organic food movement in our country.  My hat's off to both of them and to all the small-scale growers who are choosing to make a "go" of it at a time when industrialized farming is gobbling up family farms in the United States at an incredible pace.  

We can help sustain these small farmers and "grow" this movement by choosing to shift our buying habits -- even if only slightly.  We can support them by purchasing a CSA membership, or by buying from them directly at a farmers' market, or by dining at a restaurant that purchases produce from them, or by asking for and buying local produce at the grocery store.  Imagine the impact on the health of our land, our water, our air, and the general population if each of us chose to purchase local, organic produce even just 20% of the time. 

The number of family farms in the US decreased from 5,657,800 in 1950, to 2,204950 in 2007. 

We can reverse this trend.



Printed Material said...

I'm all for ventures like this and admire people who work hard with a passion for what they do. I hope people take up your call in the US. We always do our best to buy local here but big supermarkets have a massive hold on shopping habits and sadly, I can't see it changing radically any time soon. Lesley.

Missouri Bend Paper Works said...


Another great post! Beautiful photographs and so informative--a great reminder to buy local and support the small farmers. Thanks!

Gloria Freshley said...

Hi Lesley and Patti,

Thanks for chiming in!

Sophie Munns said...

Brave Gloria!

Brilliant post!

In Australian change is underfoot... not fast and not easy to say how it will go...but people are waking up...we are realising we can speak to the big end of town IF we make a fuss.... if we care enough.
I am stunned and delighted to see every gov and non-government organisation here putting food security etc on their agenda....I am being invited to forums everywhere...or reading about them. Not because i am a somebody...but simply because I care, belong to a few networks and that has been noted and then I get included in the dialogue!

Ive never seen so many different sectors pulling together in my life personally speaking. Its making me very, very aware that people are seeing the need....even if old habits die hard...the movement is there... now the hard work of catching up with what we are seeing as critically important!

Bravo to your daughter's hard-working associates and to her!

I do think the mood is changing.. and I see us starting to think that maybe change is not about "them" but us. Its up to us to "be the change we want".... forget who said it but its good!

best wishes to you,

Gloria Freshley said...

Hi Sophie,

Thank you for your comments -- especially about "me vs. them." Money casts a powerful vote and the food arena is just one of many where we can make a difference. Your work continues to inspire me. Thanks very much for all you are doing!!

Megan Woodard Johnson said...

hear, hear! loved your post, and agree wholeheartedly. this weekend we went with friends to a local restaurant that focuses on locally grown food. on saturdays during farmer's market season, the chef designs a tapas menu from what she finds at farmer's market that was delish, not to mention inspiring. food for the soul!

em said...

as a garden fool, i know how much work it is to produce a little food. i never wanted to be a farmer, they work so hard. thank goodness for our local farmer's market, where we support our farmers each week!