While staying with a friend at his beach house in Long Beach Island, we heard of a local (by American standards) organic farm that had an open day with food and music. Curiosity compelled us to check it out and after a mere three hours driving, we parked the Lexus by the barn, donned our Prada shades and stepped into rural America. God help us.
The farm we visited was Blooming Glen Farm. It isn’t a big farm, only ~25 hectares. Compared to the super-massive farms that make up the majority of the US crop production, Blooming Glen Farm is but a tiny radish. However, this is why the farm is such a sweet little treat. The farm is an eco-terrorist’s wet dream. There are no synthesised fertilizers, no pesticides and no mad scientist in the basement creating genetically modified super-tomatoes.
When food is loved that much growing up, it tastes great. When the same food was picked and transported 130 meters rather than 1300 miles – the average distance food is transported in the states – just before it is cooked, the taste goes from great to wow-I-didn’t-know-food-could-taste-like-this great. My friend Brandon – a confirmed vegan – was powerless to resist the seductive smells of the barbecue and munched his way through a burger. “I’ve seen the cows,” he said in the way of an explanation, leading me to believe he only eats those who have made his acquaintance.
This was an open-fair event. You were free to wander the grounds and inspect the crops and the farm, or you could jump on one of the tractor-pulled wagons for a guided tour by the matriarch of the farm. After eating all that delectable food, digestion was high on my agenda, so I sat down with a pint of ale, which was brewed in the neighbouring farm, and listened to some blue-grass music and the laughter of children building towers out of hay bricks.
I am a farmer’s boy, yet despite having grown up with these sights and smells, this open day visit still impressed me greatly. If you have more of an urban upbringing then I really recommend that you find a similar event and check it out.
Community Supported Agriculture
Blooming Glen Farm is a member of the Community Supported Agriculture (CES) movement. Small organic farms struggle to be competitive on the market because their quality way of farming leads to higher produce cost and risk. If both of these were born solely by the farmers then the business model would fail. CES turns this around and shares the cost and risk with the consumers. It works like this. The consumer buys a share of the farm’s produce. Every week of the season, the freshly harvested produce is distributed to all share holders. If the added risk of not using pesticides results in a reduced crop, then this doesn’t mean bankruptcy for the farm but rather a lower yield on the consumer’s share.
The link between farmer and consumer has almost become entirely invisible to most people. CES, and other initiatives like it, re-establishes this link.