Controversy surrounds the documentation and infrastructure required by the Food Safety Modernization Act, which opponents say is disproportionally difficult for small farmers to keep up with.
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We visited Sri Lanka (watch this video for a taste of our journey) with every intention of filming a story about an organic, fair-trade tea farmer. That's exactly what we were planning when setting foot upon the small tea farm of Piyasena and his wife Ariyawatha. What we didn't expect was to be so taken with the relationship between the two of them.
Lake Meadow Naturals—the only cage-free egg producer in Florida—is equal parts operational farm and educational center. It's a beautiful space and the eggs and other products sold through their farm stand can't be beat. Check out this slideshow for a closer look at their operations.
The rice terraces of YuanYang in southern China are a manmade wonder. Built into the steep hillsides, this 1,300-year old system can't be farmed by machine, but functions in more sustainable ways than any farm I've seen.
Irish cheeses are defined by erratic weather and wild landscapes. With no rulebooks and a history of tiny farms doing their own thing, the Irish cheese landscape is one of small volume, seasonal products, and funky finds. This makes discovering Irish cheese a particularly rewarding endeavor for cheese lovers. Here are 6 farmstead cheeses to look out for.
When traveling through Atlanta, The Perennial Plate stopped at a very diverse community garden called the Jolly Avenue Community Garden run by the Friends of Refugees. The collaborative garden allows refugee members to grow their own food and till their own land. You'll find vegetable patches of Iraqis, Burmese, Nepalese and many others, including a lovely Bhutanese family that shared their story and a home cooked meal with us.
John McEntire is the only person in the world, as far as he knows, that grows Crooked Creek Corn, a once common crop in the southeast. While at his North Carolina farm, John shared stories about his heirloom corn and the moonshine it can produce, as well as a drink made from sorghum.
For this Perennial Plate video, we stopped to chat with some farmers at the American Indian Mothers Three Sisters Farm in Shannon, North Carolina. Plagued with high poverty rates and little access to good food, these folks remain inspired in their efforts to farm sustainably. "In order to eat, you have to know something about agriculture."
This episode of Perennial Plate is about the very compassionate Anne Shroeder of Star Gazing Farm in Maryland. She started the farm with just one sheep and two goats, but has turned it into a sanctuary. In this video she introduces us to her animals. "She's on a diet but doesn't seem to be losing any weight," (in reference to her pig).
These three different stories present a pretty diverse and spectacular picture of farming life—and it's New York through and through. These three farmers grow in and around New York City, and explain how the relationship to the city affects their farming. Hear from Annie Novak from Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Greenpoint, Abu Talib from Taqwa Community Farm in the Bronx, and Jack Algiere from the Stone Barns Center, located just 25 miles north of Manhattan in Pocantico Hills.
Intentional communities, draft horses, farmstead cheese... it all sounds a little bit Vermont. That's because it is! This short film takes place at Cobb Hill, a cohousing community in the North East where communal has taken a more comfortable turn and appears to be doing very well. Mix that with a corn chowder recipe and dancing and you have you've got one answer to the food issues in America.
There's a lot going on in Detroit. After years of decay, excitement is growing around urban gardens. Previously abandoned lots are being turned into food producing centers. In this video, we follow Greg and Olivia from Detroit Dirt and Brother Nature Produce. They have an acre of empty lot land that they've turned into a small farm.
If you've visited New York's ABC Carpet and Home and dined at ABC Kitchen, this is similar, just add a nursery filled with gorgeous growables and a historic mushroom house. This fall Terrain is introducing a series of Farm Table dinners in their Styer's Garden Café with menus created by chef Keith Rudolf who is taking full advantage of his prime produce source in the Brandywine Valley. The first one is happening on October 5th but we had a chance to sneak a peek at some of what Rudolf will be serving.
Almost halfway through the Perennial Plate's six-month journey across America, we found a place where it would be easy to never leave. The beauty of Montana is stunning and the approach to ranching at J Bar L is inspiring. Situated on 30,000 acres in one of the most important wildlife corridors in the country, this ranch tries to replicate the bisons' role in this habitat. The result is an area packed with wildlife, fertile soil as well as a healthy and delicious meat. And the folks who run this place touched our hearts and became our friends. Watch the video.
Egg is a little restaurant in Williamsburg that started as a Southern brekkie spot (hello, artisan scrapple) then eventually added lunch and dinner service, and now has a six-acre farm upstate. Chef George Weld didn't want to replace the farmers he'd been working with already, he just wanted to understand the food system better. While the restaurant started out pretty pork-crazy, they're now more veggie-driven.
Janus Youth Programs has operated community-based programs for children, youth, and families in Oregon and Washington since 1972. They have a network of over 20 programs includes, including Janus Food Works, which employs 14 to 21 year-olds from Portland. The youth get involved in the planning, growing, selling, and donating of over 4,000 pounds of organic produce each year from the one-acre organic farm on Sauvie Island.
The way we eat seems to be in constant flux: eat no meat, eat lots of meat, everyone has their opinion. But when a family that actually raises sheep for meat suggests we change our meat consumption, that's pretty interesting. Such was the case at Magnolia Farm, located on the rolling grassy hills near Riddle, Oregon, where Elissa raises her sheep with such love and attention that each death is a challenge. And the price of this coddled meat makes it a treat for all but a few.
In Healdsburg, California, there's an organization called Farm to Pantry that picks up any leftovers, packs it, and delivers it to various locations in need of the food. It's selfless, necessary and wonderful. Watch this video to follow the food from harvest to rehab center.
The Hudson Valley is that beautiful, expansive chunk of land along the Hudson River that's home to many farms, some of which are represented at New York City's Greenmarket. The farmers trek into the city with their cherries, beets, goat cheese, and many other fresh goodies piled onto flatbeds to sell at farmers' markets and to some restaurants. We recently road-tripped with ABC Kitchen chef Dan Kluger, to meet some of the farmers that supply his ingredients. Here are snapshots of the goat cheese, squash blossoms, whiskey, radishes, and more from our day of cruising around in tractors (and convertibles).
If Vikentomater's endearing slogan, "In my food, on my sandwich and in my heart," doesn't grab you, maybe their boxes upon boxes of vibrant, gleaming tomatoes in different shapes (perfectly round, oblong, asymmetrically blobular), sizes (bite- to monster fist-sized), and colors (reds, purples, yellows, greens, striped)—more kinds in one spot than I had ever seen before in my life—will do the trick.