Wednesday, June 3, 2009

CSA Farm Tour


Ever since I read* Michael Pollan's two extraordinary books on food, the food industry and how we eat - "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food", I have been aching to join a CSA. Community Supported Agriculture strikes to the heart of several things that make it super appealing to me: 1. Local food tastes better. 2. Local food has a smaller carbon footprint 3. Buying from a local farmer means we are cycling our money and energy back into the local economy 4. Buying local means we are helping to save land from overdevelopment. 4. It's sustainable agriculture, not factory farming.

spring onions / garlic

Little did I realize when I signed up for the Carroll Gardens CSA that I would also get to meet the farmers growing my food supply for the next five months and see that food in the ground.


Last Sunday I bundled my Mom, two other CSA'ers and myself into the car and drove out east to Exit 71 on the L.I.E., made a left and then a right and arrived at the Garden of Eve Organic Farm. I am not the Hamptons type (ya think?!) so I am not familiar with the terrain out there. I was surprised and a bit worried to see one sod farm after another as we made the trip from the highway to the farm. Sod farms? Boy, talk about a monoculture! The epitomy of anti-environmental on so many levels. Subject for another posting, I think.

csa tour

This farm pastures 1,200 chickens who produce countless organic eggs. The rest of the 130 acres is devoted to vegetables and fruits. Chris, the farmer took us all on a tour and showed us an infinite variety of plantings - early lettuce, peas, cucumbers, carrots, eggplant, potatoes, flowers, tomatoes, radishes, turnips, fava beans, string beans, and on and on and on. All organic, all grown by a small group of dedicated people who believe strongly in what they do.


And when we arrived at the farm, I was so pleasantly surprised to run into Christine, who was my next door neighbor till April when she packed up her apartment, stuffed it all into a storage bin and headed out to chase her dream of learning to be a farmer. HEY Christine, you are growing MY food!! Yay! Her original plans in North Carolina fell through so whoosh!!, she landed in Long Island and will be an intern on the farm for about a year. She, like so many people facing layoffs or just realization that corporate life is as awful as can be are making choices to strike out on their own and follow their passions. One of my passengers is doing just that this summer when she quits here corporate gig to study organic gourmet cooking.

Mom & Christine

My Mom thinks I am a bit nutty trying to eat more organically and nearly elminating our meat consumption. She focuses more on what food costs and not how healthy it is. At 85 it is hard for her to change her way of thinking, which is basically "if it hasn't killed me yet..." For me, now that I am a knitter, I think alot about renewable resources. For instance, if you kill the sheep, no more fleece! But it's also about humane treatment of animals. If I do eat meat, I want to be sure the animal was treated with respect before he sacrificed his life for me. I want to be aware of where my food comes from and how it was raised.


Speaking of animals, there were a few at the farm. Some of them, like the piglets are internship projects. These little ones were only one month old and already about 25 - 30 pounds. The goal is to raise these two and send them to slaughter. However, the intern gave them names. Somehow, I don't think they will make it to the dinner table. In the meantime they were doing a good job rooting around in the dirt which is what pigs do. Duh, it dawned on me why the pig snout is shaped the way it is. Little bulldozers. Gosh I need to get out more, don't I!?


This Tom Turkey puffed himself up and stayed that way - like he sucked in a bunch of air and would not release. Initially I thought he was struttin' his stuff for the hen turkey. Being macho and all. Upon reflection I think he was threatened by all the people and was in defensive mode. In any event, I found myself completely fascinated by this bird. I've seen my share of wild Turkeys but this guy's entire costume were something to behold.


I especially love the red and blue contrast, I see it in yarn and it appeals to me.


Of course, there were sheep. What's a farm without some sheep? Always sheep! And goats. I adore goats - those satanic faces!! Their curiosity!! Their willingness to eat anything!

I haz big ears and I am cute!

Sweet Satanic Goat

For those interested, the sheep are Border Leicesters. The goats are Nigerian Dwarf Goats and the turkeys are Bourbon Red Heritage, (a rare breed!!). You can read more about the farm animals here.

So next Saturday starts the weekly progression of produce from the farm. We will be enjoying the production from now till Thanksgiving. I'll surely see Christine again -- she'll be doing the deliveries -- and we will get regular updates on what's going on down on the farm. Living the farmer life albeit vicariously from a Brooklyn brownstone.

*reading is really listening these days, thanks to my Audible account and the wonders of iPods.


barefoot rooster said...

yay! you have a CSA! it is one of the best decisions i've made -- was a work-share member at a farm out west, and have a found a farm here too. a dear friend of mine now has her own veggie/meat/eggs CSA after lots of apprenticing, and i love escaping up there to help. (she names her pigs too, but they definitely get turned into (very delicious) bacon.) can't wait to see what you get in your share! i hope you'll post more about it.

Katie M. said...

Sounds like a lovely day! I hope your box is filled with all kinds of good stuff for the summer.

Matthew said...

Awesome. I haven't been to "my" CSA farm, Green Thumb, on the South Fork, in Water Mill yet.

Eliza said...

I think it's so hard for the older generation to grasp the whole food thing. I just had a (very short) discussion with my in-laws about organic, which they thought was a bunch of hoey. I actually do too, esp when it comes from McDonalds (which is where my in laws get most of their food).
But local and pesticide free? why not? and it's important to remember that the way food is raised has changed so dramatically in the past 40 years, and not necessarily in a good way. The bacon my mom ate in 1950 was a lot purer than the bacon you buy at Key Food today.