The headline is a quote from a friend of mine. It's about making sure that you've always got food on the table when people come over. Well...simply put, farmers are the ones who make it possible for that food to be there.
As you may have noticed from earlier articles here, I'm a fan of farms - and a rabid consumer of news about farm policy. From the work of journalist Michael Pollan, to the remarkable documentary series "Five Farms" which we previewed on today's show, I think there's great work being done to tell the story of how food gets to our tables. But there's still quite a bit more to be done.
Both of these examples point to the very best way to tell the story of American farmers - talk to the farmers themselves. There's a narrative there about history, struggle, government intervention, hard work and deep love, that you just can't find in the artificial America of our sprawled suburbs.
We heard from farmers who called in to tell their stories, like Craig Floyd of the amazing Footsteps Farm in Stonington. I first heard his story on The Faith Middleton Show, while driving to our studios in New Haven. After hearing him talk about his certified "humane" farming techniques, on land that his family has been farming since 1712, I made sure to hurry there to meet him when the show was done. Everything about what they do, from their blog, to his openness about how he does his work is meant to educate those who buy his products. Not only does his food taste better, but you get from him a clear sense that he truly cares about the heritage-breed animals he raises for our food.
Facebook friend Beth Piggush wrote: "I grew up in southern MN and farming was part of family and school, especially 4H. Now in Hartford we participate in a community garden through Knox Parks and are in our 3rd year of "squarefoot gardening" Our neighborhood is very mixed and the garden offers a chance to create a sense of community- something that is very much a part of the farming community I grew up in."
And Cathy Shufro called to tell us about Massaro Farm in Woodbridge. She writes it was "given to the town of Woodbridge and is now about to be leased to a non-profit board. We plan to run the farm as an educational center that donates food to the poor. The educational component and the food we give away (about a quarter of the harvest) will be financially supported by a food-growing operation.
That food will go to shareholders (that is, people who pay up front for a share of the year'sharvest--called a CSA farm). The farm, 57 acres, is on the Ansonia line and so it will bring together people from the two towns. We are now beginning to renovate the barn and house and plan to use the house for a farmer or farming couple whom we will hire-- I hope by winter."
The CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) has become a very hot ticket for many city-dwellers and suburbanites, whose contact with real farm life is often on weekend trips to the country. We were lucky enough to get on board with one of the very best, in North Central Connecticut - Granby's Holcomb Farm.
They view their work there in the same spirit I talked about before - "gotta feed the people" - but it's not just the suburban foodie throngs who get fed. In their words: "As a non-profit program of Hartford Food System, part of our mission is to increase access to high quality food. Through our partnership with the community social service organizations, we provided over 45,000 pounds to low-income residents of Hartford and Granby last year alone."
For my part, I'm glad to know we're helping to support the cause, while enjoying the very best local food I've ever tasted. If you cook, and you've ever been lucky enough to make a dish with all the vegetables coming from the same soil, you know what I mean. All the flavors work together, and the store-bought California ingredients I add in just don't hold up.
In case you don't believe me, go ask my buddy Chris Prosperi at Simsbury's Metro Bis. Nearly all of the ingredients in his top-ranked restaurant come from Holcomb. He talks to farmer Sam Hammer year-round, and even does some outdoor cooking in the barn during farm pickup days.
In fact, our first farm day is just over a month away. I can taste it now. I hope I'll remember just how much work went into that first bite.