Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Farmer Dave made me cry

For the past 12 months I have split a farm share with my neighbors. Enterprise Farm in Whately, MA started their farm shares a year ago this month and we spent last winter enjoying root vegetables, apples, citrus from Florida, squash, the occasional avocado and lots and lots of greens. I ate more kale in those months than the whole of my life prior to that.

Summer of 2009 was not the best summer for local farms, but we got a box of vegetables and fruit every week and managed, most weeks, to eat it all. Traci and Audrey go to the farm to pick up our share every Tuesday afternoon and in the height of summer they brought back bunches of flowers and herbs from the pick-your own fields. This autumn we've found some new surprises in our share including barley and winter berries from a local grain farm.

I can't imagine how I lived with out a farm share before this. I almost never buy produce at the supermarket anymore. I'm eating more vegetables than ever. I've learned to cook new things. Traci and I, out of determination to eat it all every week, compete to cook 'farm share trifectas' (meals that include 3 or more ingredients from the share). I've gotten very good at making soup. I've discovered many many ways to prepare kale.

All of the produce in the summer comes from Enterprise Farm or other local farms. Almost all of it is organic or produced on farms that use minimal pesticides. In the winter some of the share comes from small farms down the East Coast that have a cooperative agreement with Enterprise.

Last week our summer share ended and the farm is taking a well deserved week off before starting the winter shares next week. Today the farmers sent out a touching and heartfelt letter to the members. I sat in my office holding back tears as I read about the effect the farm share has had on their lives and the farm. Up until a year ago they were a wholesale farm supplying supermarkets and restaurants. Just as they started the farm share last year, the market took a nosedive and stores became reluctant to buy organic produce and, instead, looked for cheaper options. Today, while many farms are struggling to survive, Enterprise is thriving thanks to the farm share members. They are fixing up their barn and building larger coolers and creating jobs. I'm so proud and happy to have been part of this. I'm supporting a farm, a family, a thriving local business which contributes to the community in so many ways. This was the line that got me though, "And after 25 years of farming, Farmer Dave says he finally feels fulfilled by his work. Without you, this simply wouldn’t be possible."

Farm Shares and CSAs are available everywhere. There are farms where you can buy meat shares. There are farms where you can buy wool shares (I've been wanting to do this for several years and I just got a raise and it's time). The best place to start looking is at Local Harvest. Everyone should do it. It will change the way you cook, the way you eat and the sense of pride you have in your own community. Plus you'll eat more kale. And everyone should eat more kale.

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