Last year I frequented several farmer's markets. I learned a lot about the need for local family farms after reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food and after seeing them week after week, I became rather familiar and friendly with them. It was a really beautiful routine: every Saturday, we would throw Aoife on our back, grab a couple of bags and walk through the farmer's market. Sometimes we would buy a fresh pastry from a local baker or a locally roasted cup of organic coffee, but it almost always included buying our eggs, dairy, (sometimes) beef or chicken, fresh herbs and browsing the farm tables for that week's produce that was picked fresh that morning.
One little stand I particularly liked was that for a goat's milk soap offering. Tasha's Own was the name of the sign in front and week after week I would walk up and smell the really amazing essential oils that came from the neat stacks of bars. One week there was a stack of newspaper articles and following the encouragement of the lady standing at the table, I put one in my bag to read later.
Having located my farmer's market late in the season, I was too late to invest in their CSA, but the article detailed about the goat's milk soap, their goat share, the beginnings of their organic farm and investing the time to teach our children about food and raise a community of people who want to do likewise. I was hooked.
The next week, I put my name on their CSA waiting list. I thought that was the end of it.
The summer ended and fall came, winter came and then my phone rang. Did I still want in? Yes: to the organic CSA, the goat share, and a large stack of really fantastic smelling soap. They had just opened up their CSA list for the season and as Joshua and I had just found out we were expecting, we were only too delighted to know we were going to be getting organic local produce all summer long!
Since we signed our CSA and goat share contracts, we've fallen in love with our local family farm. Joshua went up to hold milk bottles for the newborn sheep and goats, help mend horse fences, and learn about modern homesteading. Aoife loves the animals, especially the dalmatian Great Danes, the guinea hens, the barn kitty and lots of running room! I love the long drive into the country to pick up the creamiest milk imaginable, the warm hospitality and the incredible sense of community.
The hardest part of being connected to our local family farm is driving away. Aoife can't bear the thought of leaving the "puppies" behind, Joshua loves getting his hands dirty and doing work he can actually see the results of and I am still wanting to sit, drink tea and learn all the incredible knowledge that can be gleaned from a mama with eight children who makes her own cheese, homesteads her own farm, homeschools her sweeties and still looks lovely doing it all. (I would move into the barn if they'd let me!)
Don't know where to start finding your local family farm? Check out Local Harvest to jump start your search for farmer's markets, farms, locally-sourced restaurants and co-ops.
Live in Tidewater? Check out Pungo Naturals, Mattawoman Creek Farm, New Earth Farm, and Weeping Radish Eco-Farm for organic favorites!