Monday, July 10, 2006

How Wendy teaches her kid about farms

Today my daughter is here at Farm Aid. She comes to work with me every once in a while. Usually I sit her in a chair with my IPod and start “NO!” by They Might be Giants while I get down to work. Everyone here takes the time to talk to her—to hang out just a bit—kind of like I used to hang out with our neighbors.

I grew up in the country, a small town called Southbury. In the ‘70’s there were farmers all across our town. There was one farmer down the road (a dirt road) who had cows that always wound up in our front yard. We picked corn at a neighbor’s house and strawberries from the farm across town. I knew the people that grew much of what my family ate.

For my daughter it’s different. She’ll tell you she’s a “city girl” who knows about the subway (or “T” as we call it here in Boston). She knows about traffic and she thinks there are just way too many trees near her cousin’s house in Maine.

This is a problem for me. I want her to know that farmers and food go together. I probably obsess about it more than most Moms but I try to find ways to introduce the connection to her. I know how lucky I am that I am aware of projects that are out there to help urban kids connect to their rural neighbors.

I make sure that in the summer she goes to a farm camp. It’s one action packed week of milking cows, finding eggs, weeding the garden and feeding the pigs. I take her blueberry picking at a diversified, organic farm. I belong to a farm co-op and I take her with me every week to pick up our veggies so she can begin to make the connection that growing foods have a season —that peas and lettuce come before tomatoes.

I try to shop in stores that support local farmers. I am proud of the association this month between Wild Oats and Farm Aid. It’s my local healthy food supermarket so I would shop there anyway but I’m glad they are choosing to support family farmers in a public way.

I am also grateful that I’ve found places where I can find other parents who are wrestling with the same kind of hopes and desires for their kids. The newest location I’ve found is at Sustain360. I heard about it because of my job. Organic Valley, who started it, has been a loyal sponsor of Farm Aid. I’m not 100% organic like they are—sometimes I choose local over organic—but I really value that they thought up the idea of a discussion board dedicated to an organic lifestyle.

Food is such a loaded issue for parents these days anyway. I know I’m not alone in trying to figure out how to help my daughter eat healthy food—but I know that there are fewer city families who try to make farms a part of their weekly life. I welcome finding people and places that support my attempt to do it.

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