Yesterday was lambing day at Meadowood Farm, an annual invitation to the community-at-large to shower love upon this spring’s strapping newborns. Aside from baby chicks – my unyielding bias towards them is widely known – baby lambs are quite possibly earth’s cutest invention.
And the crowd of a hundred plus who came to see the babies clearly agreed. Farm managers patiently described the lambing process to group after group and placed wiggling, gangly lambs into the outstretched arms of children and adults alike. Age, it seems, is irrelevant the instant baby farm animals are involved.
It struck me as I waited my turn to hold a wiggly little scamp how easy it is to take for granted the significance of a farmer’s open-house. Not many corporations would allow this level of exposure; it is akin to rifling through someone’s underwear drawer. Yet this spring I’ve been invited to a number of local farms. My approach is simple: I call up farmers and say, “Hi, I’m a customer, can I come to your farm and take pictures of what I see and post them on the internet?”
The implications of the unhesitating ‘yes!’ are profound: it means transparency, a food-system commodity more precious than any organic label or certification, than any marketing campaign or packaging design. Allowing the consumer to see the steps between origin and plate – to see how the animal is treated, how the food is grown – is the cornerstone of a vibrant and thriving food community. Transparency breeds trust.
Hardly ever does a business invite you home. We are lucky, so lucky, to have an abundance of transparency woven into our local food culture in Central New York.
Meadowood Farm’s open house, April 12, 2014: