Saturday, October 12, 2019

Celebrating National Farmers' Day

A Word From Our Farmer
Every day there is a tribute to something. National Squirrel Day, Columbus Day and even National Hot Dog Day. Today is no exception. It is National Farmers Day. A day we are supposed to pay tribute to American farmers throughout the history of our country. Today’s farmers would not be as productive, efficient or environmentally conscious without the innovations the farmers of yesteryear have contributed to this industry. However, I am going to focus on our local farmers of today and highlight their contributions to our society as a whole. What they give us we mostly take for granted because of the abundance of fresh, nutritious food 365 days a year.

The face of our small local farmers is not the same as it was 200,100 or even 50 years ago. Our small family farms with big families offering cheap or no labor costs years ago have evolved into small farms with little or no “help” (low cost labor) from family. Now the small farms face the same difficulties that any small business does in order to survive. The difference between other small businesses and small farms is what they sell. You can go to a big efficient competitor and buy the same product at a cheaper price compared to the vast majority of small businesses.

You cannot go to a big low cost food competitor and buy the same product as you can from your local farm. It is logistically impossible. Your local farmers pick their product riper, therefore more nutritious and tasty. They grow varieties that taste better and none of the big farmers will touch those because they are not “tough” enough. A riper more fragile fruit or vegetable cannot travel over any distance and has a greatly reduced shelf life. It’s production cost is 2-4 times higher as well. It is economically prohibitive for the big guys to grow them. Also, they cannot sell you produce that is picked fresh the same day as you buy it. Your local farmers can and do. The only way you can get produce that fresh is to grow it yourself. 

In addition, local farms cannot charge enough for their product because there is a limit to what people will pay. Though they must in order to survive. The days of buying stuff straight from the farm to get it cheaper(Amish farms are the exception-free labor) are gone. All those old timers are out of business. Gobbled up by developers or bigger farms.

We as a society need to look at our small farms in a different light. Farms are not just small businesses that need to be run better. They are a community service pure and simple. They provide something vital to the health, aesthetic and cultural beauty of our community. No one else can fill this vacuum when they are gone. 

What is this worth to us as a society? It is priceless. If you left an extra $5-10 every time you visited a produce stand it would not be enough. And farmers are generally too proud to take it anyway. You can shop there as often as possible. Join a CSA. Take part in other activities at the farm. Tell your friends. Give positive and negative feedback. Go out of your way to shop at your local farm market. Some of us drive 5 miles to get a cup of coffee but buy our veggies at the supermarket because they are more convenient.

There is a very short window of opportunity in our area for consumers to visit their local farms. Late June-October is when the local stuff is plentiful. It is very hard to grow fresh vegetables when the temperature is below freezing.........

Peter Flynn (Pete’s Produce Farm), Norm Shultz and the Linvill family (Linvilla Orchards), Steve and the Rosazza family (Glen Willow Orchards), Baily's Dairy (West Chester, PA), Lewis Barnard (Barnard Orchards), Juan Medina (Landhope Farm Market), Indian Orchards (Media), Highland Orchards (DE and PA) are some of our local fruit and veggie farmers. Wolff's Apple House and Marini Produce are farm markets that do an outstanding job of buying from local farmers and helping promote their products.

Google them, visit them, shop with them and talk to them. They are your local farmers.

That’s all I have. Enjoy this wonderful day.


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