Why We Farm, Part II — 2014.05.08

Hang on tight, folks. We have thoughts to share. radish pac choi

The USDA takes a census of US Agriculture every five years. The results of the 2012 census were just released. Did you know that just 4% of our country’s farms are responsible for 67% of our country’s agricultural product?cucumber plants high tunnel

(The term “agricultural product” is appropriate because a huge amount of what is grown is not used for real food, by our definition. Corn, soy, and canola are mostly used to make oil or syrup that serve as the foundation ingredients of processed food. Junk, we call it. But we digress.) turnips

4% does not represent a strong and healthy foundation for our country’s food. Nature shows us over and over again that strength is found in diversity. 4% of farms can not be a diverse group of producers. This is our food we are talking about! We think what we put in our bodies and use as fuel and medicine is really important, and therefore the production of it is really important.three kids

Thus, we grow vegetables. greens field shed greenhouse

Also, the census shows us that the majority of farms in this country aren’t making a living for the owners. They are hobby farms. Famers, we are told, work jobs somewhere – offices, factories, etc – and take care of their farms outside of normal work hours. dan planting

In fact, an alarming number of farms in this country raise less than $10,000 worth of product per year. That makes it clear these operations are hobbies, not businesses. Many of these farmers wish to farm full-time but can’t figure out how to do so and support their family. Provide their family with health insurance. Retirement savings. NPR aired a thought-provoking story about this. It’s worth a listen.cutting hearty mix

If we think eating is important, these details need to change, eh? We need more farms, more smaller farms, more farms that are also successful businesses, and a greater diversity of farms.  More organic vegetable farms. This is why we farm. hearty mix

We saw a presentation recently that cited only 5% of Americans eat the recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables. We are looking for the source of that number, but we tend to believe it. This is a dreadful picture, but tells us we need more small, (organic), vegetable farms selling their produce directly to the consumers. Why? kale microgreensBecause what we grow tastes better AND is more nutritious that what you find at the grocery store. Because we believe that if you are more connected with your produce, you will enjoy it more. Then you’ll eat more of these amazing, nutritious vegetables. And less of the other things that are passed off as food in fancy boxes. green tomato greenhouse

This is why we farm. 041

We also farm because we think this provides an excellent base for the education of our children. Pictured above is the notes taken by our 6 year old daughter. She and Dan were using a refractometer to measure the Brix levels of some of our plants. (FYI: “Ledis” = lettuce.) She is learning very real science, connected to agriculture, botany, and nutrition. janet

You can hear us speak more about why we farm in this little video. To share all of our thoughts (obviously, we have a ton), we need a feature length film. But this captures our most important points, and beautiful photography. Take a peek. dan smiling

This Week’s Harvest:

Our Farm Share Bag (consisting of the items in the Farm Share this week, in one easy to order option), Arugula, Asian Greens (Pac Choi, Asian Spinach), Chard, Chinese/Napa Cabbage, Collards, Cucumbers, Hearty Mix, Kale, Lettuce (little gem, red romaine…), Microgreens, Radish, Salad Mix, Turnips, Transplants for your garden (Basil, Chard, Lettuce, Kale, Tomatoes, Eggplants, Peppers)…plus Pepper Jelly, and our Naturally Leavened, Hearth Baked Bread.     (Not all transplants can be listed in our online store. If you want a plant not listed, please indicate in the notes section.)

Recipe Suggestions: (always cataloged on our Recipe Page)
Bok/Pac Choi – You say Bok Choi, we say Pac Choi…This variety is actually Joi Choi, but these details don’t matter. Prepare the same way. We get the most questions about how to cook this item. No worries: It is super simple, nice and crunchy stems, and very delicious. Check out a host of mouth watering recipe ideas for Bok Choi here. (Highlights: Bok Choi with Noodle Soup; Bok Choi with Mushrooms and Tamari Miso Glaze over Quinoa. YUM!)
Napa Cabbage – This one also throws people. Think of it like Spinach or Kale: It is great raw or cooked (saute, steam, braise, stir fry…). Look at these amazing options here. (Get ready to drool: Spicy Korean Salad, Almond Chicken Salad, Asian Lettuce Wraps…)
Radishes – Slice raw over salad greens. Roast with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper, plus some onions if you have them. Eat the spicy greens if you are brave.
Arugula – Enjoy alone, mixed with other greens, or on top of pizza. Or make Arugula Pesto or Arugula Aioli and slather it on bread, pasta, crackers, or cucumber slices.
Salad Mix – top with this Tahini based dressing.

We continue at two farmers’ markets this Saturday: South of the James in Forest Hill Park, from 8am – 12pm, and the Brandermill Green Market in Market Square from 9am – 12pm. 

Enjoy ~

Janet, Dan, and the whole Broadfork Crew


Upcoming Event at Broadfork:

Spring Farm Tour
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Guided Tour at 3:00
Family friendly. No RSVP or fee required. Please – no pets.
Driving directions are found on our Events page.

2014 Market Share CSA Members: Choose your selection through our Online Store to order for pick up on Saturday at our farm, at the Brandermill Green Market , or at the South of the James Market in Forest Hill Park from.

Everyone else: Please sign up for our 2014 CSA and get first priority for the wonderful vegetables that we grow.

(Photos in this post are thanks to Sara Schmatz and Brian Gagnon. You two are the best!)

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