A City Girl Goes to the Farm-Farm2Home at Moss Mountain Farm
Last week the hubs and I joined the Arkansas Women Bloggers along with several of the nicest farmers I’ve ever met at P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm for their annual Farm2Home Arkansas event. Okay, so I haven’t met that many farmers in my life, but these wonderful men and women took the time out of their incredibly busy schedules to introduce us to their farms and way of life. It was eye-opening, educational and humbling. Beautiful Moss Mountain Farm just outside of Little Rock was the perfect backdrop…
Let me be really honest. Living in a 42-story downtown highrise, you don’t really think too much about farming. Or at least I didn’t. Yes, I was definitely at the San Diego Little Italy Mercato as often as possible. I have always believed in buying local but the amount of time, ability and talent-yes talent-that goes into farming was a bit of news to me when I moved to Arkansas. I really had no true knowledge of the dedication farmers have to providing OUR food. I think many people picture a stereotype when they think of farmers: older guys on tractors in overalls with a piece of straw hanging from their mouths. For many of us there isn’t a realization of all of the details farmers have to think of right down to rainfall amounts and financials. In other words: Farmers are SMART.
Shedding a Light – Farm2Home Arkansas
Hubs teases me now because I missed about half of the farmers’ stalls. I couldn’t help it! I spent so much time in awe and asking questions. I also “may” have spent a lot of time with the KuneKune pigs.
On the topic of pigs, here’s a confession: I never “got” bacon. I just didn’t understand it. All these bacon references and memes. I would think, “I mean it’s okay, but what’s the big deal?” After I was finished ooohing and aahhhing over the Kunekune piglets, we walked toward the loveliest couple from The Hanna Family Ranch in Bentonville (about ten minutes from our house-score!) and they offered us some bacon. I politely declined and they assured me it’s pretty good. Not wanting to be rude, I partook and O.M.G.! Uhhh, seriously I am ruined for all other bacon. It was the best bacon I’ve ever had in my life and I will be visiting their farm. I now totally understand the bacon thing.
Thank you Farm2Home Arkansas-I now know what real bacon is.
Understanding how their pigs are raised and taken is important. There is such a disconnect I’m finding because a lot of people in Arkansas actually go out and hunt their food or they’ll go to a local farmer and share the cost of a freshly butchered cow to put in their freezer. Yes, you can go to the grocery store, too; but here hunting for your own food isn’t the faux pas it was when I lived in the city. Heck, hubs hunts and we just had amazing venison stew for dinner last night. That two pounds of venison would have cost about $85 at a butcher. I have known people who were against hunting, but perhaps they didn’t realize how the meat in the grocery store got there…food for thought. No pun intended.
Connecting the Disconnected – Farm2Home Arkansas
When it came time for the Arkansas Grown panel, I listened intently as Bryan Brandon, Sr. of Ozark Natural Bread, Shelley Green of Green Corner Store, Shawn Peebles of Peebles Organic Farm and Tara Stainton of Rattles Garden spoke to us. Their stories are pretty remarkable.
During the panel, P. Allen Smith himself spoke up and exclaimed he is surprised at what a disconnect there is between the general public and farming. Soon thereafter my hand went up. I asked the panel what they would recommend as a way to connect people like me (the “disconnected”) with what it is they do and the number one answer was to realize what you’re putting on your table. Realize what you’re feeding your children and TALK to farmers. They want to talk to you! At Farm2Home Arkansas they made true on that welcoming my gazillion questions. Another takeaway: When you go out to eat ASK if the food you’re eating is locally sourced. It’s probably better for you, much fresher and it helps your local farmers.
Farm2Home Arkansas – Conversation and Cuisine
After the panel we sat down to a wonderful lunch. The hubs and I had a chance to speak with more of the farmers and here’s something interesting. I asked how they answer when someone tells them their products are too expensive. One of the farmers told us she explains to her customers they can go buy beef at the grocery store for a few dollars cheaper. It’s full of fillers, hormones and who knows what else. When it’s cooked, it shrinks down so you have to eat more of it to feel full, therefore you have to buy more of it. When you buy her beef you can buy less, it’s healthier and you’re going to be full when you cook it. She signs the back of her business card as a guarantee that it may seem more expensive, but it isn’t because you don’t have to buy as much. Love it.
Farm2Home Arkansas – The Home
Next up we got the treat of touring P. Allen Smith’s house. It looks like a Greek Revival right out of the 1800’s. It was actually built about 10 years ago and has some really, really cool features:
I mean, really. Everyone should have a sleeping porch scented by stargazer lillies overlooking the river valley with a copper tub, right?
The rest of the house was just as spectacular:
When it was time to go, I took with me a lot more than my purchases and some samples (and memories of amazing bacon).
I took with me a new found connection to where I live and a realization this small slice and often overlooked part of the USA provides SO much. ALL crops are grown here with the exception of citrus. That’s pretty amazing. It’s no secret moving to Arkansas wasn’t easy for me. It’s been almost a year (a year!) and it’s amazing to see how far I’ve come. Yeah, I miss San Diego and the ocean most especially, but I’m HERE now-in Arkansas and the Farm2Home Arkansas event was a reminder of all there is to embrace here in the Natural State.
P. Allen Smith wrote the following:
“As a farmer, there’s no greater satisfaction than putting fresh product on the table, like the eggs and vegetables we produce. Direct from the farm to the market, and then to the table makes good sense for fresh food and homemade goods. This approach supports farmers and the local economy, and neighbors want to buy from their neighbors more than ever before…”
I think this is awesome. I have a choice to sulk or to embrace. It isn’t always easy, but I’m choosing the embrace route.
I think Mr. Duncan would think that’s pretty cool, too.
You can take a look at the event and all of the farmers and bloggers who attended Farm2Home Arkansas by clicking here. It’ll come in handy. 😉