My love for food is strong. My love for food has deep roots. These roots dig deep into the soil of my grandparents’ garden, along side the garlic, dill, carrots, beans, potatoes, rhubarb, raspberries, and grapes. This love turns my fingernails brown with soil and my knees green with grass each summer. The closer I am to my food, the better it tastes.
My love for food became a gateway for my love of agriculture. It took years for this affair to develop. I had to learn and experience preparing whole and nutritious foods to begin seeking out whole and nutritious ingredients. At the time, I was living in Wyoming and did my best to visit farmers markets and food coops. My husband and I got to know the local butcher and local ranchers. In time, life changed and we moved. We moved to a small North Dakota town. My quest began again, and continues to this day.
I was at an advantage this time though. I worked for an organization that was developing its focus in community agriculture. I began seeking out others who could be professional resources and personal allies. I would spend my Saturday afternoons looking through the local foods directory, planning an exploratory Sunday drive through the central portion of North Dakota. We would bring home loads of beets, cabbages, tomatoes, and cucumbers with beautiful dreams of pickles, salsas, and sauerkrauts too.
Suddenly my perceptions changed. No longer was the term agriculture exclusive to expansive fields of corn and soybeans. Agriculture meant something that was much more connected to me. Agriculture became something I was a part of.
I am engaged in a local food movement and I continue to build meaningful connections throughout the state. This is the reason I look forward to the 2013 Farmers Market & Local Foods Conference each year. Being at the conference today, I was delighted to see familiar faces and meet new ones. In fact, I have a whole list of new names of people whom I will share a bit about in my next post. For now, I just have to reflect on the overall importance of the experience to me. I loved being among others who have the same passions and interests that I have. I got to hear the stories of others who are engaged consumers and producers in the local foods movement. And it’s not just farm stories that are exchanged. In fact, these days farmers aren’t just middle-aged men in coveralls on their John Deere tractor. In fact, farmers aren’t just farmers.
They are known as growers and producers. They raise a flock of chickens for meat and eggs. They grow a diversity of fruits and vegetables to sell at the farmers market. They grow herbs. They are families. They are men. They are women. They are our youth. They are skilled and passionate people who do their work because they love it.