Farm Days at the Mall

  It’s that time of year again, we at Sunny Hill Farm are getting ready to attend the annual event Farm Days at the Mall, held Saturday and Sunday, March 12th and 13th at the Oakdale Mall in Johnson City.  We have been participating in this event since it’s creation in 2003. 

      This event is hard work.  It costs us money, time and product we give away.  Luckily, the event has been shortened to two days this year; previously it ran for three days and it seemed the whole family lived at the Mall from Thursday night until Sunday evening.  (As you can imagine, with 4 kids this costs also adds up!)   It’s crowded.  And hot.  And noisy.  And, yet… we really look forward to the event every year, sort of our last chance to socialize and celebrate what it is that we do for a living before hitting the dirt in earnest shortly thereafter.  Many of the farmers have to balance participation in the event with managing their farms at home, working in shifts so someone can cover the afternoon chores or milking.  The maple syrup producers are particularly challenged, trying to juggle the event while tapping trees and boiling down sap.  The whole event takes much planning and dedication on the part of many people.

      Not surprisingly, the event has become a great success.  Countless parents bring their children down to see the animals, sample free ice cream, and find their local farms for strawberry or pumpkin picking.  Teenagers, too, flock to the Mall and pretend not to be impressed as they spend hours walking the whole event again and again, drinking in the sights and sounds of life on the farm.  Too many of the adults as well, draw near to the animals for the first time in their lives.  I take living with and around animals for granted.  It is obviously something many, many folks wish they could do more often.

                          

           Most of the time I spend at the event simply listening to people.  Old timers who want to share stories of farming long ago.  Immigrants who are new to our country and relieved to find a connection to what they consider normal, buying food directly from the producer.  Tons and tons of moms who want to feed their family healthy foods but need a little guidance or encouragement.  All types of folks who have questions about cooking, preserving or sourcing local foods.  It is the rewarding interaction that I seldom have time for at market, when the lines are long and customers in a hurry.  I enjoy being able to take this time with the customers, to hear what they want and need from their food shopping.  I learn so much from them as well.

     If you are trying to incorporate local, seasonal foods into your menu,  I encourage you to attend events like these, where you can spend time finding and talking to your local farmers, ask them questions and hear what they have to say about what they are doing.  Getting educated is the best way to sort through all the media hype and find what works for you and your family.  And tell your local farmers what you need and are looking for. Be polite.  Remember that not everything you read is true or practical in every situation.  Take the time develope a mutaully-understanding relationship with those you would like to get your food from. 

     And, yes, bring your kids down to see the animals.  They may ask you to get some for home, but sometimes that’s how this all starts.  I have a number a friends with “a few chickens” or a small backyard garden.  But, BOOM!  Now their kids know where their food come from, and they’ve learned the responsibility of caring for them everyday.  Certainly worse things could happen to a child…. 🙂

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Baby Pickel
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 19:48:47

    Great stuff today….stop by soon!

    Reply

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