Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Farm Visit

Each year Featherstone Farm, the farm that runs the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program to which we subscribe, holds an open house, complete with guided farm tours at their main facility in Rushford, MN. I’ve subscribed to this CSA for three years, and am about to begin the fourth, but I have never taken the trip out to the farm to participate in the open house. I don’t have any good excuses, really. One year I had visitors on that weekend, but in other years, I just missed the boat (or the hayride, as it were.)

When I had the good fortune to speak briefly with Michael Pollan after a talk he gave in town, I told him that I was a subscriber to the Featherstone CSA. When he found out that I hadn’t been there yet, he, who had just toured the farm, told me I had to go. Since I’ve already changed large parts of my life based on things Pollan recommends, I supposed I should go to the open house (there was also a bit of reminding and nudging from Harry). I’m really glad I did.

Even after a pretty big breakfast, the fields and greenhouses full of vegetables to come conspired to make me hungry. Strawberry and raspberry patches, rows of delicate salad greens, and a whole field of garlic (a field of garlic, people!), and this was just the tip of the iceberg! Still, when you’ve seen the acreage devoted in this country to commodity corn, soybeans and other such products, it’s quite surprising how little land is actually required to organically grow so much real food. (Did you know that growing vegetables and fruits on land designated for commodity crops can result in large fines? Yes, growing healthy food is bad for America, apparently…sorry to be cranky about this. You can read an intelligent treatment of the issue by Jack Hedin, farmer/owner of Featherstone, published in the New York Times here. Please do.)

Even though I know that fabulous fruits and vegetables are grown at Featherstone, the people involved in all ways with the farm are even better. The subscribers are dedicated to this sane and sustainable method of producing and procuring food. The people who work on the farm and its administration are smart and friendly with that kind of enviable energy that makes one glad they are on the side of good. These are the kind of can-do people that we could use a lot more of in this crazy world of ours!

And then there was me, practically drooling over the lanes of lacy lettuce, the little tufts of leaves marking the spots where potatoes will be dug in a couple months (or less), and the field of young garlic (a field of garlic, people!). I always get impatient in these last couple weeks of May as I wait for our first box of produce from Featherstone. Now that I’ve seen the farm in action, I’m more excited than ever. Those friendly, energetic people at the farm must be mind-readers as well, because they sent us home with a bunch of spinach so beautiful, so tender, so super-mega-ultra fresh and so brilliantly green it would make something from the Emerald City blush pink with shame.

More on that lovely spinach in the next post….

One year ago: Corn and Green Onion Tart with Bacon

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