by Inga Witscher
While driving down an old country road, I noticed a bumper sticker on an old beat-up Ford F150. It read “Who’s your farmer?” I figured the young man behind the wheel may have been a farmer himself due to the piled up feed bags and a few fence posts lining the bed of his truck. I asked myself who are the farmers growing my food later on that evening as I began to prepare dinner.
We always try to buy our pork in bulk, by the half or quarter hog, this way we always have something to take out of the freezer for dinner. I begin to salt and pepper some pork chops, and think about the farmers that grew this food, from Deutsch Family Farm just over the hill in Osseo. Alison and Jim Deutsch take great care in making sure every pig on their farm is happy and well cared for by allowing the pigs to graze in the open air on organic pastures. It’s easy for me to stop by their farm to grab some pork. If Jim and Alison are around, we usually try to visit for a while and catch up on what’s happening. If they’re out in the field working, I simply get what I need out of the coolers from their farm store and leave some money and a note.
I set the pork chops off to the side and shuck cob after cob of Wheatfield Organcis sweet corn. Last spring, while visiting their farm near Durand, I helped Helen move their herd of Angus cattle to fresh grass. As we walked through the pastures, Helen stressed to me the importance of building healthy soils, “Literally my bones and my blood, my marrow, my DNA, they are built from this soil, my mother formed me here, I was built here, my very composition is of this soil.” Being with someone who had this much dedication to the land and the people eating from that land made me proud to stand beside her as a fellow farmer.
Who are the farmers growing my food? Ken and Jay are producing America’s first pumpkin seed oil near Prairie Farm. I quickly became a fan of Hay River Pumpkin Seed Oil after being introduced to it through a friend. In the early days, I would only use it to dress salad greens, and now I find we use it on almost everything, sprinkled into our popcorn, drizzled on ice cream, and at the end of summer, slathered on sweet corn. Beyond growing oil seed crop, Ken and Jay focus on building community. They contract out to local small-scale farmers to grow their special variety of pumpkins. Come harvest time, they look to hire people in their community for the hands-on harvesting of the pumpkin seeds.
I round out the meal with potatoes harvested from my own garden topped with freshly made butter from the cream of our little herd of Jersey cows and think, “Hey, I am the farmer growing my food too!”
To find out more about the farmers mentioned in this article and many more, please visit: www.aroundthefarmtable.com.