Thursday, September 5, 2013

2013 LTD Farm CSA Member Dinner

Last November I reserved my LTD Farm CSA share for the 2013 season.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term "CSA", it's an acronym that stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a fantastic way to buy local, organic, and seasonal produce directly from a farmer in your area.  As a pretty diligent “clean eater” I was looking forward to the monthly box of organic, freshly pulled-from-the-ground goodies that I would be able to use in creative and fun ways.

After the long-awaited excitement of the initial box in June, the first Tuesday of each following month became like Christmas.  Duck eggs, kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, many varieties of lettuce, carrots, beets, peppers, beans, tomatillos, eggplant, herbs, wild flowers, homemade apple sauce and goat milk soap-just to name a few of the things we so gratefully received; and when I opened the email inviting us to their member dinner, I was thrilled. I had been regularly following their journaled farm life on their Facebook page, and was excited to meet the couple whom worked so hard to provide us with the best produce imaginable. 

As we navigated the country roads that led from the city to the home of my beloved CSA, I couldn’t help but sit in awe of the beauty that surrounded us.  Rolling hills peppered with treetops of emerald green, small streams tucked in a lush colorful landscape that gently held nature’s bounty.  It was a far cry from city life, and the peacefulness of what laid before us was mesmerizing. 

Upon arrival, we were immediately welcomed with a smile and hug from Khaiti, our beautiful and gracious hostess.  The farm dogs, Belle and Javier were also there to give us a sniff and a tail wag that let us know we were welcome to join the party (Little Blue was up on the hill keeping watch over the pastured birds).  To the right of the farm house and past a glorious apple tree, Khaiti's husband and partner in permaculture, Andrew, was sitting with guests around a long dinner table decorated with burlap runners on top of white linens and topped with beautiful flowers setting the stage for the feast…which was nothing short of amazing.

The Mexican-inspired buffet prepared by Andrew and Khaiti themselves, was filled with fresh goodies from the farm. We dined on homemade salsas, heirloom tomatoes, chipotle herbed chevre, Spanish rice, beans, and the most tender, flavorful goat meat.  That’s right, goat meat.

 For those who know me (and are also aware of my love of goats, which makes this even more shocking), you know that I am not a meat eater.  I began my journey as a vegetarian when I was just shy of 15 years old after learning about the horrors factory farming and animal processing.  My aversion towards meat continued when I learned more about how “conventional meat” is raised and how the use of antibiotics had become the norm.   Although I eat a mostly plant-based diet, I respect and support the farmers who feed their animals the kind of feed they are meant to eat, and who give them a good life with respect and dignity, something I believe all living beings should receive.  So the short of the long of it is, I tried the goat meat and it was delicious. 
The dinner conversation involved subjects you would expect from conscious CSA members; recipes, wellness, and with the dawn of the new school year in mind, thoughts on local school lunch programs from concerned parents. We even had a couple special guest appearances when Khaiti brought out two baby chicks to join the fun.

After dinner, our generous hosts led us on a tour of the farm.  We followed a winding flower-lined path through orchards and pastures that held goats, ducks, pigs, rabbits, chickens, and turkeys as well as a thoughtfully planned vegetable garden. We learned about the trials of raising pastured animals and the predators that seek them, some of them as unlikely (maybe unlikely to me as a city girl with limited predator knowledge) as blood-sucking weasels and chicken-snatching owls.  As dedicated farmers, they have gone so far as to camp out with their birds to discover how to best ward off the predator and protect the animals they are raising.

Josh and Me
The evening was not only lovely, it validated my decision and continued efforts to support my local farmers, which to me, has become an important part of mindful eating and conscientious living. It’s difficult to put into words the hard work and dedication it takes to be an organic farmer-to stand up for what you believe in when the odds are often stacked against you.  To say their efforts are admirable and inspiring is not even scratching the surface of the amount of respect I have for the two of them and everyone like them.

I encourage everyone who reads this who is not already a member, to seek out a CSA farm near you and participate in what may be one of the most beneficial things you can do for not only the environment and your community, but also your health.  There are national websites available where you can peruse different CSA farms and their offerings such as Local Harvest, or for those of you who are local to Minnesota or Western Wisconsin, you can visit the The Land Stewardship Project.

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy...And support your local farmers!