Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food

My daughter loves food and will try anything. Part of having such an adventurous palate stems from knowing where her food comes. Which is why we do everything we can to support our local farms. By visiting the farms and getting to personally know the farmers we have learned how precious our organic farms are.

A spring trip to Windrush Farm and last autumn to Skyline Chestnuts gave us a reality check on how the farms we love struggle to keep their operations going. Because of the lack of rain this year, Skyline had no chestnuts and Windrush Farms has to give up half their flock.

So this summer, I‘m urging you to do what you can to support local organic farms. It’s easy to do and is a valuable lesson for us all. Start with the farmers at the market, look into Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA) boxes, venture out to a Pick Your Own farm, visit a local farm and try growing your own. Here are some simple suggestions to help get you started.

Farmers Markets
Buy food “in season” and make a list of what you plan to purchase. Food “in season” is usually less expensive and tastes better. Let your child pick one thing from that list they love to eat and encourage them to try something new. Set an example by picking something new too. Talk directly to the farmer at the stand with your child, let the farmer show you how to pick the best produce, ask for a taste and ask questions.

Pick out something that might not be on your list such as honey from Marshall’s Farm, olive oil from McEvoy Ranch, raw milk from Strauss, yogurt from Saint Benoît Creamery, butter from McClelland’s Dairy, and, in the case of Windrush Farm, Mimi’s gorgeous yarn!

Enquire about visiting their farm and the best time to go. Last year, I gathered our 4H group to visit the Achadinha Cheese Farm and learned all about making goat cheese. We went when they had baby goats to play with, milked the goats, learned all about making goat cheese and had a very memorable time.

You can also take a guided group tour of the farmers markets and let them introduce you to the farmers. Contact your local farmers market for more information.

Check out the full list of local farmers markets.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA gives us direct access to high quality, fresh produce grown locally by regional farmers. When you become a member of a CSA, you’re purchasing a share from a regional farmer. Here in Marin, we have a wide variety to choose from which include meat, produce, flowers, and home products. Just to name a few: Betty’s OrganicsEatwell Farm, Frog Hollow FarmFull Belly FarmBloomfield FarmMarin Sun Farms and you can meet many of these farmers at our local farmers markets too. When you open the box, expect to see something that you are not familiar with and get excited about it! Most CSA boxes include excellent recipes too.

The Bay Area has access to so many amazing farms that encourage visitors to pick your own food. Another amazing opportunity to teach kids about healthy seasonal eating. Check out the website PickYourOwn for a list of farms nearby. Dress for getting messy and bring your own bags you and your child can carry. Show your child how to look for the ripe produce. Even a 2 year old knows the red strawberries are the ones to pick.

Grow Your Own
And finally, have your child pick out one plant to care for over the summer. Nothing beats the hands on learning experience of caring for your own plant. You don’t need a garden, you can grow a plant in a pot. Sproutbot is a great website to learn what and when to start planting in your neighborhood. Some guidance and reminders are necessary but they will squealed with delight to pick and eat from their own plant.

Support our local organic farms and have a wonderful summer!