I’m so pleased to announce that Farmer’s Daughter came in second place in the Friends of Farmland blog contest held by the American Farmland Trust. I decided to participate because the preservation of farmland is something that is extremely important to me for a variety of reasons, so encouraging others to learn about the value of farmland by posting their button on my sidebar was an easy step to take to spread the word. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have this button?
Even if you don’t like the apple, there are other designs available at the Friends of Farmland site. The contest had to do with how many folks were directed to the site by the button on my sidebar, and out of all the friends of farmland, I had the second-most people, so I got second place! I also was required to post about farmland three times in a certain period, but I feel that every post I write, in whatever small way, shows how important farmland is to me. The top three referrers got their names included in the October “Farm Fresh News” e-newsletter, so I was surprised to see my own name there when I opened the email today! How exciting, because it’s going to be sending like-minded people here to Farmer’s Daughter. You can sign up to receive their e-newsletters here.
So now, in honor of my little win, I want to write a little bit about why farmland and farmland preservation is important to me. First of all, farmland is my heritage. For the first 26 years of my life (and I’m only 27), I lived on my family’s farm, Rose Orchards. My ancestor, Captain Jonathan Rose (after whom my brother is named) settled this town in the late 1600′s and established our farm. The Rose family has been living there ever since, and we’ve won centennial farm, bicentennial farm, and tricentennial farm awards over the years. When my dad was growing up, it was a dairy farm, but after the original barn burned down in the 1970′s, a very sad occasion, they decided to take it in a different direction, plant trees and become an orchard. My generation, which includes me, my brothers and our cousins is the 10th generation to live on the family farm, and we’ve always known it as an orchard. My husband moved onto the farm with us and lived there for 5 years until we moved to our new house. So you’d think that 300+ years of the Rose family on a farm on my dad’s dad’s side would be all the farm heritage I need. But it’s not all I’ve got. The Rose family farm is my dad’s dad’s dad’s (my great-grandfather’s) family farm. However, my dad’s dad’s mom (my great-grandmother, Grandma Rose) also grew up on her family’s farm in our town. Her family, the Harrisons, lost their farm by eminent domain when Lake Gaillard, the reservoir, was built. Still on my dad’s side… My dad’s mom (my grandmother) grew up on a family farm in our town as well. We built our house on a building lot that we bought from my grandmother. I’m so happy that our house is on property that was our family’s, specifically the Gedney family.
On to my mom’s side. My mom grew up in the town next to where we live now. Her dad’s dad (my great-grandfather) came here from Germany and settled on his farm. He and his wife had 7 children, all boys, and two of them decided to run the farm. Wettemann farm just turned 100 in 2007, and we had a huge party to celebrate. It used to be a working dairy farm, but my aunt and uncle, who run the farm now, built a beautiful new barn to board horses, and families love to ride on their scenic trails. My mom’s mom (my grandmother) grew up right in the center of our town. We always joke that she lived in Dairy Queen, because that’s what is there now. In a very small radius fit the homes and farms of my ancestors: Rose, Harrison, Gedney, Wettemann, and Daly. When I say I’m a farmer’s daughter, I don’t mean just one farmer. Everyone in my family farms or has farmed.
I feel very fortunate to live in a town where the preservation of farmland is such a big issue. My dad, who has served on the town council off and on throughout my life, is known by all residents as a person who strives to preserve the rural nature of our town. This has made him popular with the elderly voters in our town, as well as with the farmers. I feel concerned that, as the elderly folks who understand the value of farmland die off, the younger generations won’t preserve it. However, I feel that it’s very important to educate our upcoming generations, which is why I’m a teacher. The best way for me to help young people appreciate the value of farmland is to bring them to my family’s farm, let them taste the apples, walk the trails, look at the leaves, pet the horses, and carve the pumpkins.
Preserving farmland is important to me for a variety of reasons. I want to be able to pass my lifestyle on to my children, and them to their children. I want natural resources to be preserved, and I want the development of my little town to slow. I want people to appreciate the value of food grown locally. I want to be able to buy food from small, local family farms. All of these things happen when we preserve farmland. At home, I strive to live a simple life, growing a vegetable garden, making plans to plant fruit trees, shopping small and locally, raising pigs with my in-laws and purchasing beef from cousins, eating fish and shellfish caught by my husband and his brother, cooking from scratch, making my own.
Now, in late October, I see people buying and eating apples from far away lands. I have always questioned why people think an apple from Washington or New Zealand is somehow superior to an apple grown on my family’s farm and picked fresh. Maybe it’s just easier. The reality is, as all proponents of local food know, the fossil fuels used to ship that apple around the world are too great of a cost, and also, the one grown close to home is fresher and will therefore taste better. And it’s true: an apple I pick myself tastes better. If you don’t already know that, try it, you’ll see.