Earlier this fall, ASAP set up a story booth at the Local Food Experience event. We invited community members to stop by and tell us about how local food is part of their lives. We heard from parents, college students, volunteers, and lots of people who support local food.
Some people we talked to have lived in the Asheville area for a few years and others have been enjoying the bounty of Western North Carolina much longer, like Julie Montanea, who has lived in the region for 14 years.
“I always go to the farmers market every Saturday morning, even though I belong to a CSA and often I don’t really need that much,” she explains. “It just perks me up to go there and see all the beautiful food.
She enjoys the personal relationships she’s built with farmers and the stories behind each ingredient. She brings those connections with her when she travels. “When I go visit my grown children on vacation and I bring food with me, which I always do, they laugh at me because I say, ‘These eggs are from Annie and Aaron and this butter is from Miss Sassy. That’s Julie and Carl’s cow.’ They think I’m a little crazy, but they enjoy the food.”
Her family has some farmers in their family tree, which has fueled her interest in seeing local farms up close.
“My mother grew up on a dairy farm and I’ve never been that involved with farming, but I just appreciate what our local farmers do to bring us this marvelous food. It’s just so nice to have a relationship with the people who are growing your food for you, and to be able to go out and visit the farms on the Farm Tour.”
“I really enjoy seeing the different farms,” she adds. “Then you go buy your kale the next Saturday and think, ‘I know where you were growing!’ You can almost visualize the mountain that kale was looking at,” she says.
Visiting farms and getting to know vendors at the farmers market has helped her understand the challenges farmers face, especially the weather.
“This year when we’ve had so much rain, I think those of us who aren’t farmers or even gardeners much, we think, ‘Oh rain, that’s good for plants.’ But we don’t realize what a small window there is to ideal weather conditions. If it’s too dry, there’s problems. If it’s too wet, I think that’s even harder to control. You really appreciate what a hard, demanding life it is to be a farmer,” she says.
Julie has an idea for how the community can come together to recognize local farmers. “Those of us who are avid local consumers ought to get together to have a farmers appreciation day one weekend every year when we say thank you to our farmers.”
Farmers markets are a great place to show your appreciation for farmers every week and to connect with other community members who value a strong food system.
Holiday farmers markets are ramping up this month and some markets are switching over to winter hours in the coming weeks. Find details about holiday markets throughout the region and learn ways to eat local all winter at www.asapconnections.org
Aired: November 26, 2018