18 May, 2009

Farm Visit

Meet Jonathan Wright of Thompson Wright Small Farm.  This summer he and his partner, Andrea Thompson, and all the many folks they have helping out, will be our farmers.  They will also be the farmers of a few hundred other folks who signed up to be part of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program that Jonathan and Andrea are running off their farm East of Calgary.

Yesterday I took the girls to meet the farmers, the farm, and of course the animals.  Sadly Hubby was stuck with the necessary landscaping work at home. (One day we will have something other than mud.)  We drove in the first real day of heat and sunshine.  While the girls slept I ruminated on the luxury and necessity of supporting local agriculture through a CSA.

Yes, I said luxury.  Hubby and I have been talking about this a lot lately.  While feeding our family with the best possible ingredients, sourced as locally as possible is of prime importance to us (well, me, mostly) we have to admit that it is a middle class luxury.  It shouldn't be, but it is.  And for now, it is one that we also see as a necessity - as long as we can afford it. Maybe that's why I'm returning to work tomorrow?  It is a necessity - not just for the health of our family, but for the health of a diverse agricultural economy and a diverse farming community.

Jonathan and Andrea are perfect examples of people leading by doing.  They haven't spent a lot of energy getting involved in the foodie community or even selling what they do.  But they've spent a lot of time on their farm, working it and their animals to produce food.  Food, simple food.  Food that contains the sweat of a small family, some horses, water buffaloes, yaks, and the additional sweat of the supporters and helpers that come to the farm to work.

In speaking to Jonathan yesterday he said something that just ran through my brain.  "In order to have a sustainable world, a truly sustainable culture, we have to work."  It echoes comments made by Wade Sirois at the Local 101 event back in March.  He reminded the audience that no matter how you look at supporting local agriculture it means you have to cook.  It all comes back to effort, to work.  I better get The Monster trained up as a sous chef soon because we're going to have a lot of cooking to do this summer, thanks to Jonathan and Andrea's efforts.

This is the second year for the Thompson Wright Small Farm CSA.  In speaking to Andrea yesterday she is excited about the coming months and the supporters they have this year. The commitment from their members is strong, with most at the farm to support the ideals and work, not just get some good groceries.  

The farm is run by animal and people power.  When you drive onto the property you are struck by the lack of a powered tractor and the simplicity of the old metal plow.  I remember my dad showing me the one he used as a boy on the farm, long since rusted and now serving as a jungle gym to city kids visiting the farm.  Not at Thompson Wright.  The metal plow sits clean, almost proud, after recent use readying the fields for this year's crop of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas, parsnips, kohlrabi, kale, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and garlic (and more).

The girls were in heaven running around to visit the animals.  Smilosaurus loved to pet the little chicks, but did not like getting licked by King, one of the two water buffaloes on site.  The Monster was fascinated by the chickens, gleefully calling, "Chock, chock chock!" to give them their molasses covered grain.  And who couldn't resist a three week old yak calf named Wild Bill?  Poor little guy lost his mother when he was born so I predict a gentle giant after his stint with bottle feeding is over.

It meant a lot to me to have Andrea, her son, and Jonathan welcome us and our toddler mayhem to the farm.  On the way home The Monster spoke constantly of the horses, mainly Sarah who wasn't big enough to be working yet, and her farm.  No longer was it the farm, it was her farm.  In a way, she's right. I do insist on giving credit where credit is due and that belongs to Jonathan and Andrea.  But they are our farmers.


Ryan said...

Great post!

I've had the pleasure of speaking to Jon a few times over the last year or so. Great guy--he even provided a series of posts over at the NewRes!

Once again, great post and thanks for your comments about the CFM!

Mike Soron said...

Wow Cheryl! Wonderful to read your post on the Thompson farm. The pics, especially, were really well-done.

Thanks so much for sharing your trip!

Isabelle said...

Great pictures of what looks like an awesome visit. We belonged to a CSA back in PEI and I actually never visited the farm ... I should have! We are not signing up with a CSA this summer for several reasons, but I think they're a great idea.

The Messy Baker said...

CSAs are great, aren't they? We have a few here and they're all so different.

Thanks for dropping by my blog with the gardening suggestion. Tomatoes in pots is a good suggestion and I'll do some that way while I try to get the soil in shape.