Making the Farm Your Own

//Making the Farm Your Own

Making the Farm Your Own

Each year, we open our pastures and barn doors for “Farm Day,” inviting folks from all over the country to see what we grow, and how we grow it.  Of course, for farmers, nearly every day is ‘farm day.’  From time to time, however, we make special efforts to show off our work, answer questions, and make sure our customers have a genuine, transparent connection to their food.

We want our customers to feel like this is their farm, too.  Farms that grow food for farmers markets are special places.  They have a unique identity, and a story to share.  By selling straight to the customer, your local farmer is asking you to get involved, to be engaged in the process.  This is not anonymous, grocery store food.  When you spend your dollars at the market, you are directly investing in that farm’s future success.

If your local farmer offers a farm tour, by all means, attend.  Make it a family tradition.  If they don’t offer a specific event, politely ask if you can make a special trip on your own.  The only thing farmers like more than growing food is sharing their knowledge with someone who wants to learn.  Get out there, and ask questions.  Chances are, your farmer wants to learn as much about you, the customer, as you do about the food being grown for market.

Bring sensible footwear, a water bottle, and a fully-charged camera.  You’ll be glad you came.  Here is a virtual tour of a recent Farm Day at our farm.  If you can, please come visit us!

Farm Day starts by simply showing up (on time, please!). A beautiful early May day on our farm, in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

As a free-range livestock farm, we don't have a lot of 'tricks' to show people, but one thing that is fun is when we 'call the cows.' We holler "Come On" and boy, do they respond! They are in the distance, headed our way.

A few of the cows, up close. 1500 lbs of grass fed beef is, understandably, enough to make you want to run back towards mom and dad!

Are those chickens at farmers market REALLY raised outside, on grass? Absolutely. And here's how we do it.

What would a farm be without a little lamb scampering about? On our farm, we raise nearly two hundred lambs a year. The rolling hills of Virginia are perfectly suited for flocks of pasture-raised sheep.

Kids, free-range pigs, and a perfect spring day. What else is there to say?

Every farm needs a compost pile. This mixture of leaves, grass and wood chips will end up back on the pasture, to be turned into grass for grazing animals. On cool mornings, it's easy to see the steam rising from the top.

Honey bees are amongst our greatest allies on the farm. Our friend the beekeeper, Eric Lindberg, is explaining how they help propagate clover. Oh, and they also make delicious honey!

Each year, we offer two apprenticeships, fostering education about sustainable agricultural. We enjoyed having CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) come visit us in 2012. Here, Lars Prillaman and Steffany Yamada speak about their experiences on the farm.

Farm Day = Food! In this case, free-range, 100% grass-fed hamburgers from our farm.

After a long day, have a seat on a hay bale, and take a load off. Here, some of my butcher's family (we invite our butcher each year to interact with our customers) enjoy the perfect end to a perfect day.

 

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By | 2012-05-10T05:05:10+00:00 May 9th, 2012|Farm|1 Comment

About the Author:

Forrest Pritchard is a full-time sustainable farmer and New York Times bestselling author, holding a BA in English and a BS in Geology from William & Mary. Smith Meadows, his farm, was one of the first “grass finished” operations in the country, and has sold at leading farmers’ markets in Washington DC for nearly two decades. Pritchard's first two books received starred reviews from The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and NPR, and his latest book is set to debut in 2018.

One Comment

  1. […] could I imagine walking around a farm freely.  Smith Meadows Farm values food transparency, and engaging with the source of your food.  They offer Farm Days and have their own farm store, so that customers can buy right from the […]

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