Monday, August 2, 2010

Shaking the hand that feeds you - farm day at Amarosia

Had a marvellous day this weekend when Amarosia farms in Shediac/Grande Digue opened its doors for a farm visit. A number of the organic farms have visit the farm days and I highly recommend them. A gaggle of us, kids, dogs, parents, foodies, followed David around his farm, learning all about what he was growing and how he was growing it. David had all sorts of lovely organic vegetables and herbs growing. He showed me how to identify those lamb's quarters I've been after (I may have to volunteer some weeding just to get my hands on some more....). I learned that red peppers are just green peppers that have matured. Did you know that? Okay maybe you biologists and gardeners did, but I certainly didn't and it was really nice to find organic peppers of any colour - since peppers are, again, one of those heavily pesticided but frequently used vegetables. It was an eye opening experience to realize how much work these farms are and what a labour of love. David and a handful of helpers (literally, I think there's three) manage acres and acres of organic farm and its attendant weeding and picking and de-slugging and god knows what else requirements.
(I highly recommend Brian Brett's new book "Trauma Farm" for a loving, poetic and realistic view of running a sustainable, mixed-use farm in Canada.)David was taking all these demands in stride, even growing things like fava beans, which are a pain in the butt, "because people love them". See? Again, this is where knowing your farmers gets you. David will grow things just because other people love them. Now that's farming.

Besides meeting the farmer, it's also really great to hang out with other locavores. We shared information like where to get free range chicken and who was selling free range chicken carcasses for stock (JP at Springbrook Farms in the Dieppe Market has them for a couple of dollars). Some of us reminisced about things their families used to grow and how good they tasted and we delighted in seeing a farm going back to these "old ways". We shared recipes and knowledge and a lovely afternoon in the sunshine on a farm. And one woman gave me a great new "rule of thumb" - since you can't always tell whose organic or sustainable just from looking at the product, talk to the farmer, and if they invite you to come to the farm you can be pretty sure you're going to like what you see..

So, keep an eye out for other farm visits - often posten on farm websites, talk to your favourite farmers at the market, and pay them a visit some time.

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