Jan 22 - A Local Challenge
Written by Christine Laymon of farmfolkways.com, Yellowbird Member
First, let me begin with a disclaimer:
I was born during my parents “Back to the Land” years and grew up on a small family farm where a freezer containing a half of beef, a large garden and organic food co-ops were the norm. When my husband and I purchased the adjacent thirty acres to our home we knew our end goal was to provide as much of our own food as possible. Fast forward exactly 8 months and what started as a family vegetable garden quickly grew into an on farm market and CSA. During those years the problems with our food system became very clear to us as we became eager participants in the counter-cultural movement to make a change on a local level. Almost a decade has past since we started down this road, its been a winding, bumpy, sometimes washboard ride, but we are still trucking along. We now live on a new farm, where we are trying once again to grow as much of our food as possible. We are huge advocates for soil health, organics, and local foods - so it’s pretty clear what side of the food debate I’m on.
I have a penchant for making grand January proclamations and experiments for myself and my family. Like the time I decided that for 40 days I would not wear makeup - even to Easter brunch, or the year I decided I would not buy new to me clothes, or the year we would not eat anything that wasn’t in season, or homeschooling, or when I decided we would only use goat milk so I started milking goats. Some of these lasted for only a set amount of time, some have stuck for good, but they have all changed myself and my family in some way.
Our Winter CSA Box
It seems that every January I end up finding myself with plenty of time on my hands for introspection, voracious reading and a strong desire to make some kind of change in my life. This year I’ve been really focused on food, where it comes from, how it was grown, how did it get to me, what was it packaged in, what do I do with it, etc. We are in a season of our farm where we are still building our infrastructure to provide for ourselves, and that means that we now find ourselves consumers in the very system we have long been producers. This is an advantage when it comes to weeding through the overwhelming and at times patronizing world of food. One thing I feel strongly about is the importance of knowing your farmers, of taking the time to have a relationship if possible with them, and prioritizing the individual farms over labels such as organic. The more we learn about our food and our food system the more painful a simple grocery shopping trip becomes, which eggs do you buy? Is certified organic in Mexico or China the same as certified organic in the US or Canada? Cage-free, free-range, chalk board lettering or the catchy slogan? Pure marketing genius versus straight talk. Sometimes it feels like there is no way to know the truth. So what does a mama do? I mean, it is winter and I could spend my days vetting every organic and all natural company that Kroger’s carries, but seriously, I’ve got Wendell Berry to read. Enter in, Yellowbird Foodshed, where I can sign up for a CSA and shop for additional groceries online that will then be ready for me to pickup with my box at my pickup location. Win-win! And thanks to the new store feature I’ve decided to see if we can make 90% of our groceries local foods. Whatever we can’t source through Yellowbird we will find on our own or go without I suppose. . . although spices. . . well, this won’t be without some adventure.
I’ve had the opportunity to watch Yellowbird grow from the ground up. You see, years ago, a nice family moved in next door and over multiple cups of coffee I heard about their dream to make local foods an accessible market for both the farmer and the consumer. What?! This was something I had only read about in magazines where the authors hailed from mythical places like Vermont or Berkley. But, here it was right in my little corner of Central Ohio. I loved the idea from the start - at the time I was deep in the trenches of trying to be a farmer, advertiser, quality control, packer, distributor, website developer, accountant and mama to four wild things under the age of 5. So, when I got my annual January brainstorm/ let’s change the world challenge/ make my family crazy plan I knew the foodshed was going to play a big part in making it work.
For the next month, I’ll be discussing the good, the bad, and the what do you do with a kohlrabi, of it all. I’ll share our CSA box and store purchases with you and I’ll let you know what we did with them.
Read more of Christine’s posts at www.farmfolkways.com