Good Food, Good Farms

| 6/4/2012 9:18:30 PM

A-photo-of-Chuck-MalloryLet’s take a break from cooking and look at some aspects of local food, small farms, and getting back to the way things used to be—growing vegetables that taste good, are bought by local people, and which show respect for the land and the people who grow the food. 

At the recent Good Food Festival Conference held in Chicago, fans of organic and local food learned of DIY workshops about preserving garden bounty, growing and making healthy food, and the policies affecting our food systems.Tom Spaulding of Angelic Organics spoke about the farm’s training program for new farmers. Angelic Organics is known for “Farmer John,” John Peterson, the founder, who is featured in the film The Real Dirt on Farmer John. 

Peterson was considered a “hippie farmer,” and was suspected of running a free-love farm where secret murders happened. But the truth was, no one understood that he was simply a man trying to do something new with his family’s farm--which almost failed from traditional means int he 1980s farm crisis. All he wanted to do was raise organic crops and make a living. Spaulding spoke of the current-day operations of Angelic Organics, where they run a popular CSA and have a training program for wanna-be farmers who have no experience. Spaulding said, “Half of all new farmers in our training program are women.” Of the 120 graduates of the training program since 2005, he stated, 70 percent are operating working farms. Peg Sheaffer of Prairie Crossing Farms of Grayslake, IL, affirmed that. She stated that she has three active kids between age 6 and 8 and she has run a farm and will continue to do so. 

Gene Mealhow of Tiny But Mighty Popcorn told his amazing story of searching for the perfect popcorn, and finally finding an elderly farmer who’d had a strain of popcorn that their family had grown for four generations. He no longer farmed, but still had an ounce or two of it in a jar. Mealhow tried, tasted, and immediately propagated this strain of popcorn, creating what some say is the best popcorn they’ve ever tasted. He has also used corn waste to heat his home for only $149 a year! 

Michael O’Gorman of the Farmer-Veteran Coalition informed the crowd that, "Support for beginning farmers is better now than ever in the past." 

The Farmer-Veteran Coalition was founded by farmers and food industry leaders with long histories in overcoming the agricultural, managerial, financial, and marketing obstacles to be successful in their work. The goal of their work is to share experiences with recent military veterans and to assist them in using their many relevant skills to create a new generation of innovative, ecological, and financially successful young farmers.  

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6/15/2012 1:55:38 AM

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6/7/2012 2:19:10 PM

Chuck, good to hear from you again. I really like your quote at the end of the post. "Most people wake up and go to work. If you're a farmer, you wake up and you're surrounded by work.” I certainly find that to be true at Terra Nova Gardens. The work there is never ending. The satisfaction from the accomplishments are unparalleled even by the career that I so loved for over 40 years. There's just something soothing to soul about trying to live in harmony with nature and grow not only food by patience to watch it grow to harvest. So often in out microwave culture, patience is viewed as a bad thing. My goal for retirement is to get back to the basic simple life which encompasses a myriad of things all of which require manual labor. I am much less anxious when I physically work hard and go to sleep tired. I know it doesn't sound right but I have less long term aches and pains when I active than when I sit around for a day or two. Go figure. I think our bodies were designed to work. I'm looking forward to another recipe from your kitchen in the future. Have a great local food day.

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