I’m currently reading the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s the story of how her family committed to one year of eating only food grown or raised at their own home or in their local community. A statistic from one of the first chapters stunned me: “If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.” That’s barrels — not gallons. And that’s per week — not per year.
This environmental impact wasn’t the only reason our family had recently decided that in July we’d eat only homegrown or locally produced foods. If I’m being honest, a big part of the reason was that these foods taste really, really good. Plus, we liked the idea of supporting local business owners. And, Novella Carpenter had such a hilarious time living off of her homestead that I simply had to give something similar a try.
Inspired by all of these factors, we ventured to the Piedmont Triad Farmer’s Market on Saturday to scope out what we should put on the menu for July. It was the biggest farmer’s market I have ever seen. There were two huge outdoor areas, and an indoor building, both with so many vendors, each carrying their own unique twists on the classic farmer’s market fare. My favorite part of this farmer’s market is that it’s open all year long.
On the way home, with July 1st fast approaching, I started wondering where we were going to get milk. I hadn’t seen many dairy products at the market. I browsed the Internet, scoping out local farms for one that would fit the bill. I didn’t find it, but I did find out that the fourth annual Northern Triad Farm Tour was scheduled for Sunday, and included an afternoon of kid-friendly activities, learning about the farms and how the food they sell is made, and of course — local shopping. We decided right then and there that we simply had to go.
After a morning of harvesting more cucumbers and zucchini than I knew what to do with, we loaded the kids up into the car and headed to our first tour destination of the afternoon: Buffalo Creek Farm & Creamery, a 34-acre dairy goat farm. Mitch swore he would absolutely not be tasting or purchasing any goat cheese, thank you very much! That is, of course, until he couldn’t refuse a sample out front and then found it to be so delicious that he purchased plenty to take home. I bought some goat’s milk facial soap and farm-fresh eggs and the kids had a blast meeting the goats, including a full-grown gal who became Lee’s best friend.
The next stop on the list was the one Mitch was most excited about: Plum Granny Farm. They are passionate about growing garlic and Mitch is passionate about eating it. As we arrived, we were immediately struck by the beautiful rolling hills. This scene already looked so vastly different from the farms we were used to in the Midwest. As we toured the place, we saw several different things, including some lambs whose wool had just been sheared and was now being spun, a demonstration about the several different varieties of garlic and all of the edible parts of the plant (who knew?), and a place where the kids could plant their own sunflower seeds (an activity we had actually also done at home just this morning, but was much more fun at Plum Granny’s). We went on a hayride tour of the rest of the farm, where we learned about what they were growing in the various spaces, and left with homemade Ginger-Strawberry-Mint jam, and some freshly harvested garlic.
We had time to visit one more farm and we picked Armstrong Artisan Farm. I’m glad this one was the last on our list because I’m pretty sure the kids could have played in the massive corn pit all afternoon. For me, I loved watching the many chickens free range on the farm. As future laying hen raisers, we have a lot to learn about creating happy and healthy lives for chickens and this place is such a good example. We live way too close to our neighbors and a busy road to allow our chickens to free range one hundred percent of the time like this family does, but we’re still inspired. We got the kids some ice cream for the road and knew we’d be back in July to stock up on eggs.
As we relax at home this evening, I’m thankful that we are surrounded by so many passionate farmers doing what they love and providing food for their community. I know that we have several great sources for amazing food for our local-only adventure next month and I won’t be surprised if they convince us to become “locavores” for the long-haul.