One of the things I miss about belonging to a community supported agriculture (CSA) program was the newsletter that came with our bi-weekly produce box. The newsletter detailed all the little things that the farm had done to get our food to us that week — how the weather had impacted the crops, or how a broken tractor affected the farm’s ability to harvest in time. It put my food in a larger context.
But I’ve found that I can get that same insight into life on the farm by reading farm blogs.
I get to see what crops look like when they are newly planted and also when they are harvested. I can see how the animals are raised and what the animals eat. I get a true appreciation for the work involved in producing food.
Reading about what it takes to grow food and raise animals also offers a much-needed reminder that the farms we imagine, Old MacDonald’s farm from nursery school, diverse farms with animals on pasture still exist.
Here are some of my favorites:
Eatwell is a truly diversified and progressive farm near Davis. Their blog is updated daily and covers everything from what they’re planting and harvesting to how they are irrigating their fields — even how the farm puts San Francisco’s compost to use.
Eatwell seems to always be working on something new to bring to the market and the blog is a way to hear about what we can look forward to. After all, this is the farm that brought locally grown wheat and a grinder (!) to the Ferry Building so we could grind our own flour. From the blog, I learned that the farm will have new grain CSA with fresh, local cornmeal, barley and other grains.
I didn’t know much about Riverdog Farms until facing a 172 pound Riverdog hog at the Fatted Calf’s Basic Pig Butchery class. Riverdog doesn’t come to the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market, but they do bring produce to the Saturday Berkeley farmers market.
Given the Fatted Calf class, I know firsthand how delicious Riverdog pigs can be but their Hog Blog showed me why their hogs taste so good: they’re on pasture, they eat well and their pigs are crossbred with a truly freakish looking wild boar.
Eatwell and Riverdog are established farms with acres of agricultural land. They both have CSA programs and go to many farmers markets. But Ghost Town Farm is different: it’s in Oakland, in a truly urban environment. It’s not a business as much as it is a way of life for Novella Carpenter who details how she becomes a farmer on her blog. Her new book Farm City is on my summer reading list. I can’t wait to read more about how she got started, and what she’s learned about farming in a city.