Farm Day Is One Other Way of Reaching out to the Community of Norfolk, Connecticut

FarmDay2014logoFarm Day at the Norfolk Library (a public library in Norfolk, CT) was a concentrated effort by the Library Associates Events Committee (The library’s Friend’s Group), the Norfolk Farmer’s Market and the many farmers who participated in the panel discussion, to celebrate locally produced food in Norfolk and its environs.

Conceived as an educational and networking program, the day featured a screening of the movie “Greenhorns,” a tasty farm-style lunch and a panel discussion with local farmers describing their lives as farmers, what motivated them to become farmers, what obstacles they had met, and what was urging them to push forward.

Participants

Representatives from Cream Hill Veal, Cornwall, Broadfield Farm, Norfolk, Heritage Gardens, Winchester, Lost Ruby Farm, Norfolk, Fords, Canaan, Chubby Bunny Farm, Falls Village, Mead Farm, Canaan, Howling Flats Farm, Canaan and Canaan farmer and gardener Wayne Jenkins and Dolores Perotti all participated in the panel discussion.

Documentary

The movie, “Greenhorns” told the stories of  “new” farmers all over the country.  Under discussion were the state of agriculture, the government regulation of agriculture, the culture of agriculture and the history of agriculture as the context for the experience of up and coming new farmers.

Interviews of farmers in the field, and food politicos, interspersed with historical agricultural footage from the Prelinger Archives made the case for smaller scale farming, suited to production for local needs, with an emphasis on quality, flavor and nutritional value.

All in all, the Greenhorns roused the audience’s enthusiasm for lunch, prepared by dauntless Library Associates, Louise Davis, Tom Hlas and Hope Childs that included one bacon-infused and one vegan white bean soup with kale.  Delicious bread came from Berkshire Mountain Bakery.  A very animated audience decried the cold winter and expressed a strong wish for spring and fresh vegetables.

Farmer Panel Discussion

Thus fortified, audience and farmers and local food producers began their panel discussion, with the enthusiasm of knowing that participating in this forum was a vote of confidence within the Norfolk community for food that is locally produced and delicious.

The panel spoke earnestly and in detail of challenges in their work: the weather, the labor, organic standards, where to farm, maintaining integrity of product, educating others, finding meat processing services.

The audience left feeling that they too, were responsible for nurturing a fledgling local food system that can only foster the appreciation of good food, and good health, and good stewardship of the earth’s resources deeper and stronger in our community.

Remarks during the question and answer period indicated how hard it is to always have access to local food by some in the community.  Although the Norfolk Farmers Market is open every Saturday half of the year, and the community has multiple CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) farms for fresh produce, you couldn’t just go and buy it at the local store.

Leslie Watkins, Norfolk artist and gardener, suggested that farmers team up with the Norfolk Corner Store to sell their goods there.  Slow food advocate Holley Atkinson @HolleyA was also on hand to tell farmers on how to get the word out about their businesses using social media.

Resources

The Greenhorns Website

Prelinger Agricultural Archives

Panel Participants

Chubby Bunny Farm, Falls Village, CT

Heritage Gardens, Winchester, CT

Cream Hill Veal, Cornwall, CT

Lost Ruby Farm, Norfolk, CT

Meads Maple Syrup, Canaan, CT

Howling Flats Farm, North Canaan, CT

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Farm Day at the Norfolk Library

IMG_2299-640x420I hope this event will serve as a model for continued library debate on how important a vital, diversified local food system  interacting with regional food hubs for sustainable distribution of high quality, local foods, is to our community.

Happy to report that Farm Day received two great reviews.  In my blog on the Norfolk Library website I include a bibliography of great new books on farming and agriculture, global food politics and the industrialized food system to get us thinking hard on the topic of where our food comes from and how our food choices determine our health outcomes.

Norfolk Now’s April edition strongly endorsed the event, held on a bitterly cold March Saturday,  featuring the movie “The Greenhorns,” a farm lunch and a farm panel discussion.

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Hudson Valley Apple Festival

New York State Apple Farmers Are Not All Happy Campers this Year

It was a grey day but none the less, there was an enthusiastic turnout for the Hudson Valley Apple Festival, held in Germantown, New York for the first time this year.

Although I did the obligatory journalistic research to identify the organizers of the Festival, I found out very little other than that they received terrific sponsorship from local businesses.

There was an awesome little hay maze, arts and crafts vendors, pumpkin and apple themed games, and even a small farmer’s market.   I visited a sponsor’s booth (the only business booths allowed) of the local radio station, spun the wheel and won a tee-shirt!  We oggled at the old cars before procuring candy apples, snapping the pics below and dashing off.

Which led me to reflect and remember; wasn’t this a really bad year for apple farmers?  And yes it was, starting with a late spring frost that damaged up to 70% of fruit and was the worst since 1955, and ending the bombarding hale that damaged more of the surviving crop.

I love that the Don Baker Farm sold “ugly”(hailstorm pocked)  fruit – though steeply discounted.  The June hailstorm took a hit and miss approach, and according to the Farm’s website, Don Baker’s entire crop was obliterated, though other fruit farmer’s in Columbia County were hardly impacted.

So if Apple Festivals stir the public’s imagination for the harvest, then the harvest must be had, and at a steeper price this year because of the inevitable shortage of apples.  Lets just hope for less extreme weather during the next growing season.

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Making local foods available year round

Anna Dawson’s HARVEST KITCHEN

I am thrilled to see Hometown Foods, LLC at the Hudson Farmer’s Market.  Anna Dawson has refined her locally sourced, nutritious frozen and vacuum packed food business for some time now.  I am now delighted to paraphrase the laudable mission of Hometown Foods:

To provide easy access to locally preserved, reasonably priced frozen foods with the highest commitment to nutrition and quality.
 

Anna won several grants to build the Harvest Kitchen in 1998.  Her goal was to create healthy meals from local farmers’ unsold produce.  Anna also extended the Harvest Kitchen to the community through workshops demonstrating preserving techniques and the loan of the kitchen.

Anna’s goal is to inspire a network of rural/urban Harvest Kitchens, a solution that Anna, as a farmer and foods teacher, deems practical in helping consumers avoid food related diseases through education.  The the business model she has developed for making locally produced foods available all year round and facilitating local engagement with that process  is visionary and inspiring.

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Learn more about Hometown Foods and Harvest Kitchen at http://hometownfoods.harvestkitchens.net/.

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Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Project Drives the New Farmer Narratives Initiative

Chatham Food Coop, May 18, 2012

Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Project Promotes New Farmer’s Narrative Project through Local Libraries

Anna Duhon, Project Coordinator of The New Farmer Narrative Project Travelling Exhibit, Journeys into Farming, describes The New Farmer Narrative Project as driven by the stories of new farmers.
While it is understood that the vocation of small scale farming is in decline, there is also renewed interest in the field by those without traditional experience. New farms are sprouting up all over the country, including Columbia County, New York.
The purpose of the project is to document the journey of the new farmer as they embark upon their agricultural careers in Columbia County. From interviews and surveys conducted with new business people who started farms in the area during the last ten years , local, state and federally regulated ag-issues that effect that community, emerge.
Data obtained will provide a description of what services would benefit this new business community, how to better promote their products, and finally, how to use this information to form case studies for farming curriculum.

Grant Funding Opportunities
Of particular interest to me was the use of the public libraries in Columbia County by the Project as exhibit venues. Public Libraries are poised to develop dynamic partnerships with local businesses, and farming enterprises. Building strong collections of books and resources relevant to the local farming community should be each Columbia County library’s priority. I strongly advocate for a coordinated collection building strategy between county libraries in all collection areas relevant to farming, agriculture and sustainable living.

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Farmers’ Market Logos and Signage

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A short slide show inspired by some of my favorite farm vendors this Saturday.

Look out for their logos and signage!

Radishes, from Fog and Thistle Farm, cheddar cheese from Hawthorne Valley Farm, and multi-grain quinoa bread from LOAF made an exciting sandwich that afternoon.

Next week I’ll try  another cheddar sandwich with spicy cresses from Red Oak Farm and Blue Star Farm.  Mayo is not necessary.

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My Product Pick of the Week – Curried Sauerkraut

Product of the week; Hawthorne Valley Farm’s lacto-fermented, sauerkraut. Available flavored as well. I bought the curried sauerkraut – highly recommended by the Farm’s Green Market Program Director, Ben Borkovitz.

Went home and sampled it with delicious eggs procured from Red Oak Farm’s delectable free-range chickens (you should see how orange the yolks are), scrambled and served alongside sauteed wild ramps (also from Red Oak Farms).

First your mouth tingles from the sourness of the kraut, and then the flavor of raw tumeric root, chilli peppers and cumin seed kicks in! A terrific taste experience. Caraway seed, ginger, beetroot flavors available as well. More information at: http://hawthornevalleyfarm.org/sauerkraut-cellar

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