Every farm at one time was a family farm. But along the way, farming became more business-like and less farm-like. Don’t get me wrong, farming has a bottom line and to stay in business a farm has to make a profit. What changed though? When did our food become so impersonal? It’s just lettuce, or tomatoes, or?
Just lettuce, for example, takes a year in the making. The lettuce seed farmer has to grow the lettuce plant to produce seeds, clean the seeds, and then package the seeds. Then a lettuce farmer has to buy the seeds, fertilize the fields, and plant the lettuce seeds. Then about 6-10 weeks later that farmer gets to harvest the lettuce and sell it to a thankful customer. But because our farming regions are further and further from urban centers, we are losing touch with the farming industry that is essential for life.
As a farmer I am in awe that food is so readily available and that we have so much local food available. The Puget Sound/Salish Sea area of Western WA has a robust local farm economy. We are blessed with so many smaller farms, surrounded by larger farms – dairies and berries. The whole system is interwoven and supported by tractor dealers, farm suppliers, veterinarians, food processors, etc.
To feed people you need farmers and farmers need land. Thankfully, much of Western Washington farmland is in flood plains—AKA not good places to build houses. These rich alluvial soils that are some of the most productive in the world are right here in our own backyard! This same farmland is a multi-benefit landscape providing many other benefits to our local communities. In addition to local food and food security, local farms store flood water, filter water from the hillsides and cities before it gets to the rivers and estuaries, provide open space and lots of habitat for a host of non-human critters too.
But what makes all these direct and indirect benefits of local farmland possible? A willing consumer and a willing farmer that have developed a mutually beneficial and meaningful relationship. For us, local customers are the reason we are farming. Because of you we grow food—organic, non-polluted food—that nourishes you, your family and indirectly benefits the entire local ecosystem. You might say that having local farmland farmed by local families is a win for you, the farmer and the local eco system.
Growing food for you,
Your Farmer and Community Health Activist