by Luisa Sabin-Kildiss
Farm Day at the Norfolk Library ) was a concentrated effort by the Library Associates Events Committee (The library’s Friend’s Group), the Norfolk Farmer’s Market and the many farmers who participated in the panel discussion, to celebrate locally produced food in Norfolk and its environs.
Conceived as an educational and networking program, the day featured a screening of the movie “Greenhorns,” a tasty farm-style lunch and a panel discussion with local farmers describing their lives as farmers, what motivated them to become farmers, what obstacles they had met, and what was urging them to push forward.
Representatives from Cream Hill Veal, Cornwall, Broadfield Farm, Norfolk, Heritage Gardens, Winchester, Lost Ruby Farm, Norfolk, Fords, Canaan, Chubby Bunny Farm, Falls Village, Mead Farm, Canaan, Howling Flats Farm, Canaan and Canaan farmer and gardener Wayne Jenkins and Dolores Perotti all participated in the panel discussion.
The movie, “Greenhorns” told the stories of “new” farmers all over the country. Under discussion were the state of agriculture, the government regulation of agriculture, the culture of agriculture and the history of agriculture as the context for the experience of up and coming new farmers.
Interviews of farmers in the field, and food politicos, interspersed with historical agricultural footage from the Prelinger Archives made the case for smaller scale farming, suited to production for local needs, with an emphasis on quality, flavor and nutritional value.
All in all, the Greenhorns roused the audience’s enthusiasm for lunch, prepared by dauntless Library Associates, Louise Davis, Tom Hlas and Hope Childs that included one bacon-infused and one vegan white bean soup with kale. Delicious bread came from Berkshire Mountain Bakery. A very animated audience decried the cold winter and expressed a strong wish for spring and fresh vegetables.
Farmer Panel Discussion
Thus fortified, audience and farmers and local food producers began their panel discussion, with the enthusiasm of knowing that participating in this forum was a vote of confidence within the Norfolk community for food that is locally produced and delicious.
The panel spoke earnestly and in detail of challenges in their work: the weather, the labor, organic standards, where to farm, maintaining integrity of product, educating others, finding meat processing services.
The audience left feeling that they too, were responsible for nurturing a fledgling local food system that can only foster the appreciation of good food, and good health, and good stewardship of the earth’s resources deeper and stronger in our community.
Remarks during the question and answer period indicated how hard it is to always have access to local food by some in the community. Although the Norfolk Farmers Market is open every Saturday half of the year, and the community has multiple CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) farms for fresh produce, you couldn’t just go and buy it at the local store.
Leslie Watkins, Norfolk artist and gardener, suggested that farmers team up with the Norfolk Corner Store to sell their goods there. Slow food advocate Holley Atkinson was also on hand to tell farmers on how to get the word out about their businesses using social media.
Heritage Gardens, Winchester, CT
Collection: Farming & Food
The library is building a core collection of books related to food, food politics, and sustainable agriculture. Here is a sample of some newer titles.
The Economics of Food
Full Planet, Empty Plates, Lester R. Brown
Betting on Famine: Why the World Still Goes Hungry, Jean Ziegler
The American Way of Eating, Tracie McMillan
Methods and Techniques
Mini-Farming: Self-Sufficiency on ¼ Acre, Brett L. Markham
Encyclopedia of Country Living, Carla Emery
Bringing Back Traditional Values
Bringing it to the Table: on Farming and Food, Wendell Berry