By Farmer Kim, Oxbow Farm
I know, I know, the title of this post sounds a little strange coming from me and everything that I stand for here at Oxbow Farm, but alas, everything has it’s pitfalls and nothing and no one is perfect — not even this farmer.
Now I am not saying that the problem is big, it is rather small actually and can be fixed, I believe, over time.
When it comes to finding fresh local fruit and vegetables it can be really difficult. For example you can’t find juicy strawberries in November or crisp apples in February. Now don’t get me wrong, there are farmers out there who have mastered the art of food storage and growing fresh salad greens in greenhouses so there are *some* to be found, but there is just not enough to meet the demand.
I am guilty of not having enough product at times too. Some weeks my eggs that are sold at two retail locations sell out so quickly I have to deliver again that same week. It is my responsibility to provide my product. Sometimes, however I don’t have the supply to meet the demand. In the winter, the chickens are using up all of their energy to keep warm and so they have less energy to produce eggs.
When it comes to fresh local meat, family farmers can only raise, and process a certain number of animals each season or each year. Sometimes the meat in the store freezer is gone before another animal can go to be processed. On a side note, I can only imagine that the availability of processing times will decrease during the upcoming summer months due to the fact that one of our local slaughtering houses tragically burned down right around the New Year.
Personally, if I could somehow organically create a new breed of pig that consisted of only bacon and ham, I would be a millionaire. There is only so much of these that can be taken from a pig but they are the most sought after items when selling my pigs by the cut. Unfortunately, when the product is gone, someone gets left out, having to wait until we have more to sell.
So, it really pays to do your homework and find out just which farmers carry which products. Monadnock Buy Local has a great directory to help find local farms and products and it is a great place to get contact info and phone numbers. Don’t be shy to call a farm and see if they have the products that you are looking for. We had people call us this fall asking if we were raising turkeys for Thanksgiving. We were not, but we gladly directed them to other local farms who were. I would rather see that a customer receive the product they were looking for, then be extremely competitive with surrounding farms. More importantly, that customer is shopping locally and that is the whole point to begin with.
Existing farmers need to take notice of what is in demand and adjust their farm’s products to meet that demand (without sacrificing their own goals for the farm). Farmers have to step up to the plate and honor the agreements that they make with retailers for their products as well. There are lots of new farmers starting their own agribusinesses and they will fill voids where necessary and that can only improve the quantity of local food.
Oxbow Farm is a small, family-operated farm, located in the shadow of Mt. Monadnock in Dublin, NH.