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Musings from a Farmer

January 31, 2018

By Diane Green

Inland Northwest Food NetworkI admit that I am a “foodie”. I am a person that enjoys the full flavor of fresh food and I like to know where my food comes from. It is clear to me that all tomatoes are not created equal. Winter cucumbers sort of taste like cucumber flavored cardboard. Fresh salad greens in January are a savory treat that I will never take for granted again.

During the summer months, it is easy for me to be a food snob because we have a bounty of farm fresh, organic produce available right outside the kitchen door. We have a certified organic small acreage farm that sustains us and a portion of our community members. Recipes for summer dining begin with a stroll through the gardens to harvest whatever I need to create a culinary delight. There is nothing quite like a meal that includes produce that was harvested a couple of hours ago. The vegetables taste better because they have had less time out of the ground; the nutrient content is likely considerably higher too.

On the rare occasion that we eat out at one of Sandpoint’s fine dining establishments, I always ask the server “do you buy anything from local farmers?” Sometimes this isn’t the right question, as depending on the restaurant, “local” may be defined differently than I do. The next question then is “do you buy from Sandpoint farmers?” Being a person who enjoys food, it is important to me to know where my food comes from.

I like to think that when locals buy from our farm that they proudly serve Greentree Naturals salad or whatever fresh veggie they’ve purchased from us. I’m not sure if being a food snob is a blessing or a curse, but it does matter to me! Most of the time, I would rather eat our own food because I know it’s organic, sustainably raised, good for us and good for the earth we grew it on.

We are meat eaters, and make our meat purchases from local ranchers that we know that pasture raise their cows and pigs. The animals live healthy, happy lives with room to roam. The butcher comes to their farm to minimize the stress that is put on animals that are loaded up and hauled to slaughter. We raise our own chickens for eggs and give them a quarter acre to do what chickens do. We trade beef and pork for Alaska Salmon and Cod from fisherman we know that work commercial fishing boats. We raised our own chickens for meat for many years, but have opted for buying direct from an Amish community in Montana that raises their own feed and can grow pastured birds more sustainably that we can.

I think it’s important to support your local farmers anytime you can. When you know your farmer, you know where your food is coming from and become a part of the solution instead of supporting a part of the problem.

There are certain foods that we will only eat fresh from the garden or frozen fresh from our gardens. I refuse to eat a tomato that was grown 2,000 miles away that looks like a tomato and offers zero satisfaction! No thanks, I’ll wait until our first harvest in July and savor the full sweet flavor that only comes when vine ripened.

We have two and a half acres in production here at Greentree Naturals. We grow two 90 foot rows of heirloom tomatoes from seed that we’ve been saving for 15+ years so they have adapted well to our micro-climate. In 2017, we harvested over 2,300 pounds of tomatoes! Hard to imagine what a ton of tomatoes looks like isn’t it? I can tell you we sold the heck out of them, and were enjoying tomatoes in every way a fresh tomato can be eaten. That said, I have good reason to be a tomato aficionado.

Winter is a challenging time for those of us who are devoted to eating fresh. This time of year gives us opportunity to seriously contemplate where our food comes from and how we can satisfy our cravings for vegetables that have flavor. Local farmers are already making plans for spring and the growing season ahead. Those farmers that have CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture = veggie subscription program) are currently soliciting member confirmation so they know how much to grow. If you haven’t had the CSA experience, now is the time to get to know a farmer and sign up! A CSA will provide you with the freshest, locally grown veggies you can get without growing your own.

In the meantime, eating fresh frozen certified organic is a better way to go for safe, nutritious veggies.

Diane Green is a veteran farmer who, along with her husband Thom Sadoski, owns Greentree Naturals, a certified organic farm located outside of Sandpoint, ID. In addition to tending to her vegetable farm, Diane serves as a farmer mentor, and is a consultant with the University of Idaho Cultivating Success program. 

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