I found this dandelion yesterday, while walking through a field....
...in 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...
...to 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.