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Lacefield Farms Blog
Sunday, 13 March 2011
Thoughts on the new farming

Melissa gave us a great memoir for Christmas: "The Dirty Life: On Farming Food, and Love", by Kristin Kimball. John read it first; I am just now getting around to it. It has been--like all great reads--the right book at the right time. We are often full of doubt about our farm life so to read that someone else has been down this road--made these same choices--is very affirming. I found this particularly so in a passage about the Kimball's vision of farm shares, and the challenges of marketing them, on pages 160-162:

"We were offering a full-diet share--including beef, pork, chicken, eggs, milk, vegetables, flours, grains, and dry beans..... We were pitching a radical all-or-nothing, year-round membership model that was untried, even in the most agriculturally progressive pockets of the country. We were asking people to fork over thousands of dollars for the promise of a return that was by no means guaranteed. At the price we were charging, most people in our community couldn't afford to use our food as a supplement to their usual grocery store haul. They'd have to give up, like I had, that familiar and comforting experience of pushing a cart down an aisle. The central question in the kitchen would change from What do I want? to What is available? The time spent in the kitchen--in planning, in preparing, in cooking--would jump exponentially.

...Maybe most important, farm food itself is totally different from what most people now think of as food: none of those colorful boxed and bagged products, precut, parboiled, ready to eat, and engineered to appeal to our basest desires. We were selling the opposite: naked, unprocessed food, two step from the dirt. 

...We'd be asking people to eat things they couldn't identify and didn't know how to cook. We found, from giving away samples, that the rich, flavorful Jersey milk I loved so much was just too different from the store-bought kind for some palates to accept, especially if they were used to drinking low-fat or skim. Moreover, we couldn't offer the kind of consistency that consumers have come to expect from grocery store food. Could we really expect people to change their habits radically, and pay good money for it?"


Like the Kimballs, we also have envisioned a whole-diet model where we would provide meat, eggs, milk, fruit, vegetables, sugar (honey), and oil (olive oil.) We also see the same resistance--in ourselves. Do we really want to eat zucchini for the fourth week in a row just because that is what is now available? Do we want to give up eating what we want even though it is out of season? Are we prepared to eat in an organic way by using what we have instead of what our tastebuds tell us they want? And, do we want to put in the time needed to prepare our foods for storage?

We have been only tentatively answering yes to these questions but knowing we are not alone has strengthened that budding feeling that we are on the right track. As Dottie would say, keep a-going.

Posted by Roberta or John at 9:06 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 13 March 2011 9:40 AM EST

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