Sunday, April 6, 2008

Farmer's Bounty

I'm sorry I've been away for awhile. I needed some space in my life to rest for a bit, and the blog is the first thing to go when those times come. I have been reading your blogs, though, even if you haven't heard from me. Anyway, this weekend was just too wonderful not to post about, as you can see from my basket of goodies in the opening photo.

Early in the life of this blog, I reviewed Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. While my husband and I had been thinking about starting to buy locally and ethically raised meat for a while, this book spurred me on to support local agriculture and to make visiting the farmer's market a regular part of my routine. Her description of living an agricultural lifestyle in Appalachia brought the issue home to me in so many ways. Suddenly, being tied to the earth was about connecting with my dad, who loved his backyard garden in his little corner of Appalachia, and about supporting a way of life that is essential to who I am and where I come from.

So, despite the fact that it was rainy and cold and my children were letting us sleep in, I crawled out of bed Saturday morning, pulled on some warm cloths, and snuck out to the local farmer's market to welcome in the season. I picked up the lovely goodies in my photo and much more, including some delicious sausage from locally raised pigs and a fresh baguette from a local bakery. I chatted with some of my favorite vendors and picked up a recipe for asparagus timbale to use up some of the fresh eggs and asparagus that I purchased. I stumbled upon a surprise early crop of strawberries, which my boys devoured at lunch, along with some local farmer's cheese. And I watched the community come together to support our neighbors, who work hard to grow our food. As I left, a chocolate croissant and huge basket of fresh food in hand, the chill of the morning faded, and I was thankful for the ongoing rain, which has lessened our drought and promises a good growing season for Spring.

I am so thankful to live in a state that has great respect for farmers and a thriving local economy that supports organic and sustainable farming practices. It's not perfect, but it is better than any other place we have lived. Nearly every town has a farmer's market, though I am a bit biased and think ours is the best. The mild winters allow for extended growing seasons, and our market is even open every other Saturday for limited hours during the winter months. Several of the farms that sell at our market also offer CSA subscriptions, and we are joining one this Spring. We will get a weekly box of fresh, organically grown vegetables delivered to a location five minutes from our house, and we have the option of adding on eggs, beef, and pork to our order.

If you have a market near you, I encourage you to visit. Even if you don't, you may be able to join a CSA. The prices are a bit more, but the quality and variety are worth it, and so is the chance to support a local farmer who is trying to change the way we view food and where it comes from. And now I am off to start my first ever Wendell Berry novel.


Catherine said...

I don't like the farmer's markets around me...too suburban, too fancy, not enough farmers.

But I did join a CSA a few months back. I wrote out a BIG check and still have to wait a few months before there's any bounty around here. :)

And as you know I'm looking into local ethical meats as well...but there's no "local" farms so that harder...

Kate said...

Been thinking about you and praying for you recently.

Enjoy Wendell Berry. I haven't read much of him but what I have read, I have loved.

Missy said...

You are in for a treat with your novel!

Our farmer's market here is ok-- but we also have a UPick farm about the same distance from our house that we are going to use this summer more extensively. There is a blueberry farm and a local dairy that we also like here.

This is an area where we are seeking both challenge and balance-- so glad you made the trip out Sat. am.

Kerry - A Ten O'Clock Scholar said...

Awesome! We've also been trying to eat more locally and seasonally and have really enjoyed it. I'm posting photos of what we get each week and then some recipe ideas, too.

So, what are you cooking?

ps. I'm linking to this post!

Katie W. said...

wow. that's so beautiful. I'm now sad for the days of my market trips in France, loading up my basket with fresh cheeses, pears, mache, not to mention hand-pressed raviolis, artisan breads....aaah. I think the market at St. Philip's downtown opened last saturday as well, I'll have to check it out. ..if only i could take the tram. ;-)