By Hank and Joli Fichter
Sitting down to a well-prepared meal lets you step away from the stresses of the day to focus on nourishment and those with whom you are sharing the meal. Meal time provides not only an opportunity to discuss farm business matters, but, when guests are at the table, it allows for discussion of the production efforts and methods that have gone into the meal.
On our farm we frequently have guests who are unaware of the challenges of food production. At our table you can almost always find food that was produced on the farm or food that was purchased from local growers. The importance of “know your food, know your farmer” is always evident.
It is our intention to know who and how our food has been grown or raised. With this knowledge, we are comfortable with the ’70s slogan, “you are what you eat.” Our dinner guests frequently have not heard this or have long ago discounted this approach.
Since we grow primarily vegetables, we have the ability and knowledge to limit the outside pressures on our products. Since starting our operation, we have developed a network of providers for foods that we do not personally produce. This “food networking” has allowed not only wonderful, vetted bounty for our table, but has enabled us to share information with our friends, family and customers so they, too, may have secure knowledge of what they are serving at their tables.
Having sources of locally produced food has changed the way we live. We were struck with how differently things can taste when they are served right off the vine or out of the ground. Likewise, the meats, poultry, eggs, and milk have a more fulfilling flavor and meaning when sourced locally.
Having created our own network of sourcing all of our fresh products locally, we support local businesses, small farmers, and our environment. I include the environment because when you source locally, you eliminate the need to have your food transported, sometimes thousands of miles, saving the contribution to green house gases.
Sourcing locally also means that your food has not been subjected to storage extension practices. Valuable for the simple fact that we have a lot of people to feed on this planet, often these practices suspend the ripening/spoiling stage of the product using sanitizing methods, temperature control, packaging and/or the introduction of certain gases.
Living in Ohio, we have tremendous resources to produce all the basic foods we need. It is hard to do it all yourself. The resources are most likely within miles or minutes of your home. We all benefit from sourcing locally with a stronger local economy.
Hank and Joli Fichter run Fichter Farm as a CSA farm in Minerva, Ohio. They deliver fresh produce to 40 families on a weekly basis for 20 weeks during the main growing season, and also sell produce at the downtown Canton Farmers’ Market, through Healthy Heart in Alliance, Anthony Petitti Garden Center in Louisville, and Deli Ohio in downtown Canton.
Joli also shared her experiences as an agricultural entrepreneur earlier this spring at the Eastern Ohio Women in Agriculture conference.
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