Saturday, December 10, 2011

Meet the Foodie Farmer

It has been a goal of mine for some time to be an “Ag-vocate”, someone who advocates for agriculture. Farmers are after all, only 1% of the US population. Gone are the days when folks had some level of family connection to the land and the family farm. As a result, fewer and fewer people can relate to how their food gets from the field to their fork. My goal is to help consumers re-establish that connection, or perhaps if you cannot even remember a generation of your family ever farming for a living, establishing that connection to food for the first time.

I just returned from a two day conference for Executive Women in Agriculture. Being in a room of 120 farm women has inspired me to launch this blog. These women are farm operators, not farm wives, or in some cases such as mine, are both. The point being that women who farm professionally are on the rise either as sole proprietors or as equal partners in the family business. These farm women as communicators can go a long ways to Agvocating for their farming operations. It was an inspiring event!

From my perspective, I left a 10 year clinical practice as a Registered Dietitian in order to attend graduate school and start a family… not necessarily in that order. As a result, I got drawn into working on the farm between semesters, when the kids were at school and whenever the guys were short-handed and needed me to drive a piece of equipment. Soon it became a passion of mine and I integrated myself into the family business full-time. I could connect my training as a dietitian to the direct production of food from the land. Food is a cycle from production to consumption, from field to fork, from farm to table. I’ve had people ask me why I threw away all those years of training as a dietitian. My response – I do practice “applied nutrition” every day by growing your food. I still am a Registered Dietitian practicing quite literally in the "field" of food production. Thus I am a “Foodie Farmer”. I eat, live and breathe food production.

Farming is both an art and a science. A farmer is a scientist in the field of soils, weeds, crops, and livestock. Farming is being a health care professional - a diagnostician, pathologist, microbiologist, pharmacist, nutritionist, nurse, and physician of the soils and crops or animals and therefore your food.  I did not want to return to my “career” because it would interfere with my love of farming. I also became more connected with food as a farmer than I ever did as a dietitian. The farmer is the front end of nutrition – the variety, the production, the quality, and the sustainability, all elements that get food from field to fork. If that does not define a “foodie”, then I do not know what does.

Thus “The Foodie Farmer” evolved and what I hope will become an interesting blog for consumers who want to connect to their food. My intent is to give you ‘the day in the life’ of how we farmers are producing your food - planting food, growing food, harvesting food, storing food, shipping food.  I’ll discuss the nutritional value of how we are producing food, highlight the conservation methods that are used in food production, as well as techniques and technology that improve the soil and therefore the food coming from that soil.

My farm is a highly diversified farm. We have 2000 acres on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Yes, there are farms in Maryland!  That will be the topic of another blog. We grow corn, feed- seed- & food-grade soybeans (another blog topic), wheat, barley, hay, tomatoes, green beans, and wine grapes on this land. I have dear friends who are hog, cattle, poultry, dairy, cucumber, spinach, peas, apples, blueberry, peach, cherry, and watermelon producers. My goal is to find as many different food items that my friends and I grow and show you how that food goes from field to fork.

I’m excited to share with you my life as a “foodie” farmer!

1 comment:

  1. Loved your post! I just started mine, too:
    I live on a Delaware farm on the Eastern Shore, too. Maybe I will see you at the CommonGround conference in February?!!