It is Thursday afternoon and I have a teeny window of silence that I wanted to share with you, nothing like a contemplative moment in the midst of a summer’s week. A lot has happened around the farm, but my mind veers only to one off farm topic: the sad closing of one of Kentucky’s few remaining, small, family dairy farms. This is not just any dairy, this farm is located a stone’s throw away from here, they are our dear friends, and the news hit me hard. I read about the state of our food system all the time, I try not to think about the impact of centralizing our nation’s food supply too much, it scares me, I just try to go about my work and hope I am doing all I can to feed our family and our community. I know full well the odds are against small-scale farms and farmers these days. Economies of scale, efficiency, government subsidies, most of these work against the smaller operations. It is just hard to compete with the big guy: especially when you deal with milk. Brad and Bernadette held out as long as they could, dairy farmers have a devotion that is unfathomable even to me. In the years that we have known them, they have struggled against all odds, changed their practices, and accepted lower and lower checks from the large company that comes and picks up their milk every other day. The final blow was delivered last week by the milk hauler, the independent contractor that drives the refrigerated tank truck around the region. He delivered a contract to be signed outlining a flat rate fee increase that threw their numbers over the edge. They couldn’t do it, the numbers finally, undeniably, no longer added up. 34 years of milking ended just days later as the trailer hauled off 18 cows to the auction block. They are sad and angry. If you look at the bigger picture, they will be OK, if all goes well, they might be better off. Released from a system that has been working against them for many years, some creative thinking and they will be fine. These folks are resilient. I can’t stop thinking about it though, I wonder what more I can do for my farm, for my CSA, for my family and for the other small farms out there: dairy, vegetable, small grain, meat. I ponder the implications, I feel for my neighbors entering a huge life transition. With these thoughts, however disheartening, I dug into a wonderful week of work on the farm. With ideas of how better to engage in our work, dreams of succeeding against all odds, I tended our late summer and fall plantings. We cultivated and planted more for a future that could not look more delicious. While munching contentedly on the first cucumbers, I looked forward to seeing you, our supportive community, and sharing the summery fruits of our labor. I daresay, this first basket of August is just screaming gazpacho!
week fourteen in your basket:
Gazpacho there are so many recipes out there, but this is a great dish to enjoy while the summer fruits mingle, this particular version is from Recipes from America’s Small Farms
9 vine ripened tomatoes
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium red pinion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
6 TBS red wine vinegar (or to taste)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-2 finely chopped hot peppers
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil, cilantro or parsley
Core the tomatoes and dip into boiling water for about 10 seconds to loosen the skin. Place the tomatoes in ice water to cool, then slip off their skins. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise and squeeze out the juice and seeds into a strainer over a bowl. Reserve the juice and discard the seeds. Puree half the tomatoes in a food processor or blender. Coarsely chop the remaining tomatoes. Combine the pureed and chopped tomatoes in a bowl and add the reserved juice. Stir in the cucumbers, onion, bell pepper, oil, vinegar, garlic, and hot peppers. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least one hour before serving. Sprinkle the fresh herb over the bowl for a garnish.