The lucky CSA members of Kilpatrick Family Farm were invited to head up to Middle Granville, NY this week for some strawberry picking, farm touring, baby animal petting and picnicking. The weather was perfect, cute little kids were out in full force and I spent every dime I had on strawberries. It was a good day.
We converged on the farm’s strawberry patch around 10 am and began gathering our berry bounty. There were a few simple rules to follow for the morning: 1) Stay on the strawed paths and don’t step on the plastic covered beds or plants, 2) Pick only completely red berries, and 3) Stay out of the areas with other crops growing in them. I thought that this occasion marked my very first strawberry-picking experience, but my mom tells me we went once when I was a wee child– methinks I didn’t follow those rules very well at the time.
After we picked all the strawberries we could carry, the group split up to take tours of the farm. My group’s guide was Keith the Produce Manager. He showed us the crops, explained some of their farming practices, answered questions, showed off their equipment and even told us a very sweet love story about how he really hit it off with a goat named Maggie Herman, who he now owns and milks twice daily.
I am completely out of my league when it comes to farm equipment. The most growing I’ve done has been in tiny containers on my window ledge. Let’s see, we have a tractor here, a washing machine-turned-giant veggie spinner (genius, right?), a big barrel washing contraption for root veggies and some sort of planter thing that the farmers seemed to be really excited about because it saves time and you get to sit down when you use it. They explained all of this much better than I do, clearly.
And then the animals! Baby goats! Chickens! (Thank you for your eggs every week, by the way.) Baby cows! Sleeping pigs! I’m told I made a staggeringly poor decision when I skipped out on the baby chick viewing because they, apparently, were hands-down winners of the the award for cutest baby animal. Tiny five-day-old balls of fluff.
It was incredible to see exactly where my weekly vegetable deliveries come from and to hear firsthand about crop conditions, new methods and processes and challenges facing the farm. I learned why last week’s hakurei turnips didn’t have their tops with them (flea beetles) and about the harsh weather conditions that wiped out much of this year’s kale crop (fine by me 🙂 ). We got to see some of the clever and innovative ways this farm operates and learn more about organic growing. There is so much that goes into an operation like this I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around it. I do know that I feel much better about eating food when I know who grew it, who harvested it and cleaned it, how much they love providing food to our communities. Now when I’m cooking up a bit of fresh chard or figuring out what to do with all of these beets, I’ll know exactly which field they came from and which hands helped to grow them.
To round out the lovely day, they served us all strawberry shortcake! If you have the chance to visit a farm– whether you belong to a CSA, shop at a farmer’s market or just live near one- please do it. It will change the way you view your food and the meals you make for your family and you’ll leave feeling just a bit more connected to the land and your local foodshed.