Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Home Sweet Farm - Locavore fieldtrip

Little did I know until recently, but there is a locavore group in my community. Yep. There are people who are just as crazy in love with all those local goodies as I am. And most recently, they've started to arrange field trips to local farms in the area. The purpose is 1) to bring together interested locavores with local suppliers (finding out who produces what is one of the most difficult steps to eating locally), and 2) to encourage mindfulness in how food is grown sustainably, ethically, and organically. And as we all know, I'm all about the mindfulness!

On Sunday, Dave and met 10 fellow locavores at Brazos Natural Foods, our natural food store. Once everyone divided up into fewer vehicles to carpool and distributed driving directions, we were on our way to Brenham, home to Home Sweet Farm, a CSA about 45 miles south of town. You may recall, I visited Home Sweet Farm during one of their market days last month, scoring some wonderful local oranges and an incredibly flavorful pizza crust. This time, we were scheduled for a tour of the farm. 

Upon arriving, we met up with owner, Brad Stufflebeam (or Farmer Brad) who immediately took us into the history of his 22 acre farm and the logistics of CSA membership. As we walked amongst row after row of hearty winter vegetables, he asked us to imagine all that is possible on this very special plot of land: the weekly shares of fruits, vegetables, and herbs that his 125 members go home with each week; the monthly Market Days when he brings together producers from around the region, giving customers access to olives and olive oil, beef, eggs, cheese, breads, soaps and much more; the construction site of what will become a farm products store; and his plans for growth on a 110 acre lease.

Despite Home Sweet Farm being a young farm, Brad is far from being a novice farmer. With 17 years of experience and a life-long passion for growing, Farmer Brad now runs the largest food producing farm in the county and has been featured in numerous magazines, including an upcoming issue of Southern Living. Want to learn to be a farmer? Brad also does consulting work as well as hosts a number of volunteers who seek to learn the trade. Farming isn't just a job, it's a way of life; one he actively passes on to others who share his passion.

Occasionally during the tour, he'd pull up veggies - a few carrots here, a radish there - encouraging us to taste the amazing difference that sustainable, organic, mindful farming can make. We eagerly sampled the harvest, reminded that good food is an art, one that comes from a symbiotic partnership with the Earth. 

We concluded our visit with a tour of the greenhouse, where the next generation of harvest was starting as seedlings. When we shop at those big-box stores, it's so easy to lose sight of the amazing life cycle that forms the base of our survival - from seed, to mature plant, to harvest. This visit was a beautiful reminder of the time, the effort, the love that is very much a part of the local food movement. And believe me, you can taste it in every last bite!
If you are interested in becoming a CSA member and attending a Market Day event, check out Home Sweet Farm's website for more information. And stay tuned for announcements of future Brazos Locavore field trips. See you next time!


Chile said...

There is something so inspirational about seeing a well-run small organic farm in action. I loved the farm tour I went to for my CSA last year, too.

Does the local locavore group get together for anything besides the field trips? And will you be joining them?

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

I couldn't agree more with Chile, seeing a sustainable farm doing so well, people being able to provide themselves a decent living - that is so uplifting to see.

How fun is it that you have a locavore group in your area. I wonder if we have one in my area, I'm not really sure how to find them. I love how involved you are getting in your community. It seems like a natural extension of what you have been doing all these years.

Heather @ SGF said...

Chile - It really was a fun experience and great to get to know the others in the group. Yep, I'm definitely involved. In fact, they've asked me to plan the next trip (January). It a little tougher considering it's cold and not everyone has harvest to show off, but I have a few ideas :)

Jennifer - Yeah, I never knew they existed, although the field trips just started (this was only the second one). It's great to know there are others out there that are also interested in local foods. The only reason I found out was from getting involved. Once people knew what I was interested in, I got emails forwarding info to me.

Theresa said...

"symbiotic partnership with the Earth" - what a lovely way of putting it!

Heather @ SGF said...

Theresa - that's our new buzz word here. Symbiotic. It has such a nice ring to it and it's so true. That's what we strive for.