My last blog, The Terms of Transparency, reeked a bit of desperate frustration. Here I am willing, wanting, wishing to talk farm and food with someone but getting the sense that no one wanted to share in the give and take of conversing.
Well, as the Lord says, “Ask and ye shall receive.” Call it fate, destiny, karma, serendipity or just God giving me a shove out of a pity party, but this week I received.
Sunday, June 23 we arrived home from a rained out baseball tourney to a ringing phone. On the other end was Jesse at the Dixon City Fire Department.
“Hey, Katie. I’ve got two girls here who are biking across the states talking to female farmers and they need place to stay. I thought of you.”
“Uh-huh.” Was I being punked?
“Can you talk to them?”
“Ummmmmmmmmm. . . sure?” I squeaked.
Here’s the long story short: Caitrin & Lake are two California born 20-somethings who graduated in May from a New York college and took to the roadways on bicycles to follow their passion for food and farming, particularly as it relates to bringing safe, nutritious food to the masses. Their project involves interviewing a series of farmers (mostly female) and almost all involved in organic, heirloom, natural, vegetable, diversified livestock, urban garden, CSA-type farming. They were caught in the storm (the same one that rained out our baseball tourney), couldn’t make it to the next destination and were stuck in Dixon.
“We’ve slept on many floors if that’s all you can offer,” came the plea at the other end of the line.
So, My Farmer drove to town to pick up our usual Sunday pizza and two strangers.
Our farm is very different from the farms they had visited. We gave them a tour and stood in our almost empty grain bin talking at length about biotech, pesticides, tractor technology, family farms vs. corporate, farming as a business, farming as a livelihood, regulations, government subsidies, crop insurance, education. . . Caitrin captured some of our conversation well in her blog at http://www.shifting–gears.com/#. We are profiled in Week 4, June 23.
My “ah-ha” moment came as Lake described the cooking classes and culture offered in some California schools. I got to thinking, maybe we are so focused on the how of food production we’re missing the bigger problem of the what of food. As in, “What do I do with kale and kholarbi?”
(Sidebar: Jeannine Otto, an ag journalist, recently started exploring this very question and her weekly CSA-box with her new blog, Tales of a Basket (well, box) Case. Give it a read. She closes her entry titled “Equip’t” with this: “If people are going to promote the growth of fresh food and local food in areas and to populations who might not have easy access to stuff like spiffy plastic cutting boards, four sizes of sharp knives and neato-bandito new food processors – or even counter space or ovens, that is something worth considering.”)
We don’t have a spare bedroom so the girls crashed in their sleeping bags on the living room floor. The next morning My Farmer fried eggs and sausage for an early breakfast and they were off in less than ideal weather conditions but determined to get to the next destination.
Among hugs, thank-yous, and sharing of business cards, I felt hope return for our united efforts to find a solution to this weird relationship we have with food. I know Caitrin and Lake didn’t leave our farm loving the idea of corn fields, but that’s not the point of sharing a conversation.
Safe travels girls! Pedal on. Pedal on.