This post was created in partnership with America's Farmers. Opinions are my own.
Do your kids ever ask you where groceries come from? At some point they put two and two together and figure out that somebody somewhere grew that apple, that carrot, and that green bean.
I'm from Kansas, in case you didn't know, and grew up surrounded by farms, cows, fishing ponds, and boys driving tractors down the highway. We went to local orchards to pick apples. We got bushels of corn from neighbors. We went to our farmer's market almost every week. We stopped at roadside peach stands. (I still do that…can't resist, especially when I'm down near the Hill Country in Texas.)
America's Farmers – The Blythe Family
America's Farmers have been growing our food, the raw materials for our clothing, and caring for the land for ages and ages. Families like The Blythe Family from White City, Kansas. The Blythe family grows nearly 1,000 acres of hay, wheat, corn, alfalfa and soybeans, not to mention raising more than 500 head of cattle. Debbie Lyons-Blythe even writes about life on a ranch on her blog, Kansas Cattle Ranch. Her mission is to connect with urban moms like me and address our questions and concerns about food.
Farm Boy Dewey circa 1940.
My Grandparent's Farm
My grandparents lived on a farm in Oklahoma. We used to go visit them a couple times a year. This is my dad when he was little playing in the corn field. I have a picture of my brother doing the exact same thing. Mud love is genetic apparently.
I have fond memories of visiting the farm and chasing frogs, feeding the pigs, picking corn. The water for the house was pumped out of the pond in the back, and you couldn't drink it. They hauled in water from the gas station 20 miles away twice a week. Everything was cooked in lard, and fried chicken was the standard lunch time meal almost every day. And we ate what came out of the ground, rarely going "into town" to go to the store for groceries.
How to Support Your Local Farmer (even if you don't live on a farm):
1. Eat local – In my neighborhood, restaurants like Bolsa and Outpost source their ingredients from less than 50 miles away. That way, they support local growers, the food is the freshest, and you can really tell a difference in the taste. Not to mention, gosh, it's pretty cool that the honey in your tea is from the bees in the chef's backyard.
2. Visit your local farmer's market – Here, the Dallas Farmer's Market downtown is currently undergoing a major overhaul not only in looks but in the way they're going to do business. They're restructuring to work more with real local farmers and not just produce distributors. This will be a huge asset to Dallas, and I am so excited for this project to be finished because my art studio is just two blocks away! I can walk there with my Mercado bag and stock-up on delicious tomatoes, green beans, and blueberries.
3. Support your local farm stand store – In my neighborhood, we have Urban Acres, a farm stand, and we have a "mini-share" of produce every other week. It's like a subscription to food. We go pick up our bag and are always pleasantly surprised at what's inside every week. For instance, it's fun to use Kale to make interesting snacks like this one.
4. Grow your own garden – Teach your kids about where food comes from by starting your own little farm in your backyard. Even if you just start out growing herbs in pots, which are easy, you can taste the difference when you use them in recipes with fresh herbs like this one. I've started collecting Farmhouse recipes and gardening tips on this Grow It: Farms, Ranches, Gardens Pinterest board.
5. Visit a farm – Many areas have farms and orchards where you can go pick apples, strawberries and other produce with your children. This is a great field trip and learning experience for them to see fields and fields of their favorite thing to eat growing out of the ground. We buy meat directly from my neighbors, The Nitschke's, who have a cattle ranch and farm just past the border in Oklahoma and produce fantastic grass-fed, grass-finished beef, much of which is sold to Whole Foods.
About America's Farmers
For example, did you know America’s farmers grow 23 million American jobs? That’s right; the American agriculture industry supports 23 million U.S. jobs, making them the largest employer in the nation. America’s farmers also grow the economy with a trade surplus of 34 billion dollars – that’s more than any other U.S. industry.
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Mommy's Wish List Disclosure: Compensation was provided by America's Farmers for me to share the story of The Blythe Family and my own personal farm stories.