Saturday, August 27, 2011

How to get local produce from local farmers

We try to buy local, because we like to buy directly from the farmer.  We can ask questions.  We can determine for ourselves what food is good and good for us.  We can avoid the labeling and mislabeling, the processing, the petroleum and the petrochemical industries.


When we can't stay on our own side of the gate...
Saturday mornings seem to be the best time for farmers and consumers to get together.  That routine necessitates a certain regularity and consternation of purpose. Here is my morning in a nutshell.

I get up at 6am to water my garden.  My front yard is the most local of all.  I try to stay on my urban homestead whenever possible.  That means I exercise my hobby by keeping autumn seeds moist for germination, looking for bugs to pull off the plants and generally being the farmer.  This is a busy morning, so I keep my ablutions short.  I nibble on a few leaves and pull some weeds which go back to the pregnant doe in the rabbit warren.  I am off to work at my construction sites.  I have clients to meet for Saturday morning coffee and review.  I meet a carpenter at 7am and another at 8am.  Back again for breakfast with the family.  I pack the bags and the ice chest.  Then the fun begins.

I load up Izzy in the car seat and we head out to find some farmers.  First, I go the ASN market pickup downtown in Little Rock.  They only have local produce from local farms that provide all their growing philosophies and are visited by market organizers and consumers alike.  We did our ordering online earlier in the week at their market website.  My wife had ordered cantaloupe and herbs.  We have the hardest time getting a variety of fresh fruit in Arkansas.  At the market, our order awaits.  The helpful volunteers help you find your orders that the farmers have prepared for us.  On another table I see the bags of produce from my garden that I had dropped off yesterday for other people who had sent me their requests.  This is the best system for a farmer's market that exists.  The people order online to get exactly what they want instead of a random box or basket.  The farmers only have to harvest and deliver exactly what was ordered.  Money is exchanged at the drop location and everyone is happy.  If not, then the volunteers are there to help, and there are plenty of the farmers there volunteering to answer your questions directly.  Everyone has a smile on their face.

Next, I head over the river to North Little Rock to the Argenta Farmers' Market.  I am there to meet my main CSA farmer at her booth, Falling Sky Farm.  In addition to providing us with chicken, pork and beef for the year, she provides us all our eggs, pastured and organic, every two weeks.  It seems we are her largest consumer of eggs besides a bakery who gets slightly more eggs the other Saturday every two weeks.  That's a frightening amount of eggs, but the lovely does a lot of cooking and grain-free baking which require a lot of eggs.

I was so happy to pick up the eggs at the market today instead of her husband delivering them to the house, because I saw my favorite bee keeper, K Bee Honey.  He has been running low on inventory recently.  On his booth table he had, amongst other smaller bottles, a GALLON of honey!   A lot of people were joking about the size, but I snatched it up.  Finally I said.  Honey is the only sugar that we use, so we go through it fast.  It is best to get local honey to help with your allergies of local flowers.

Loaded up at the public market, I went to a drop off location for a local farmer to get produce directly.  I've been to this farmer's place and looked at his land.  I found this farmer from a remote area of Arkansas, through socializing in a food buying club.  We do various clubs and loose groups such as the customers of Azure Standard, who send a truck to our state every month and has a traditional catalog approach to ordering bulk food.  The food in that group is not local, but sometimes certain food is just not available local, but local people can get together to share the shipping costs. We buy feed bag size portions of organic grains this way for our rabbits.  Other products include truly raw nuts, coconuts and pure olive oil. On the way back home, I pass through Hillcrest's newest farmers market, doing well and staying busy.  I see some of the same vendors at both markets, like Kelly's North Pulaski Farm, an organic greenhoused farm.  So many good farmers, so little time.  I will see Kelly later, or read about his farm on his blog or FB group.  The Internet does make staying in touch with your food a lot easier.

Have a great weekend!

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