As we approach July 4th, all of us reflect on our nation and its history. For many, our minds turn to our founding fathers, the Revolutionary War, and the Declaration of Independence. My mind, of course, goes to farming.
At the time of independence, we were a country of farmers. Part of the myth of our founding was that we were a nation of yeomen, freemen who farmed small plots of ground. We all know that we were also a nation of plantations and slavery, but, mainly due to the writings of Thomas Jefferson, that’s not the ideal we were handed down. This Jeffersonian ideal of democracy built on the free association of hard-working free people remains an inspiration to many, myself included. The yeoman farmers of yesterday were not serfs under the thumb of some Lord or Duke, but free and independent operators with a stake in their local governments and development.
|Family from 80s farm crisis, Daily Globe|
If small family farms were the bedrock on which our democracy was based, we have been in trouble for a long time. For my entire life-I was born in 1977-family farms have been in retreat. I clearly remember the farm crisis of the 1980s when Willie Nelson took the stage at Farm Aid and America’s attention was turned to farm families’ struggles. Farm auctions and foreclosures blanketed the evening news. Although the attention waned with time, the trend of family farm loss continued. Instead of being a nation of independent yeoman farmers, it’s hard not to feel like we’ve become a nation of farmers on contract to our overloads of Tyson, Smithfield, Cargill, and Monsanto.
Despite this doom and gloom, at least those of us in the sustainable agriculture communtiy still have hope. There are many more farm operations like our own making a living today because people like you chose to buy your food directly from the farmer It may sound Pollyanna-ish, but I firmly believe these simple choices are making a real difference in keeping that dream of family farm alive.
In the Box:
- Garlic Scapes: These are the tops of garlic which can be used in substitute for green onions or garlic. See recipe below for an idea.
- French Breakfast Radishes
- ‘Farao’ Green Cabbage
- Snap Peas: Don’t shell these…just eat the whole thing
- ‘Lacinato’ Kale: Dark green with a blue band
- A couple small heads of lettuce
- Broccoli or Cauliflower: Most of you got cauliflower, but we had to substitute in broccoli in some boxes