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The Challenges and Joys of the Local Food Experience

By Hannah Curcio

It’s sunrise, and right at this moment, the LFX is a burr in my saddle.  We have a big list to tackle on and off the farm, and a cup of coffee would surely hit the spot.  Not to mention, our ducks have entered their annual hot season molt, and a couple of little boys are about to awaken with designs on pancakes or eggtillas (thank you Jess Watson for introducing us to this awesome concept).  Like coffee, the bulk granola which is our normal go to on a busy morning is currently shunned.  Admittedly, the thought briefly crosses my mind: why exactly are we doing this? Do we really have something to prove here?  In the second question lies the answer.  

We do have something to prove.  As food insecurity moves from the realm of paranoid hypothetical to above-the-fold headline (are we still using newspaper expressions?), we have to prove to ourselves that we have a resilient local food system that will feed our families through the periods of supply chain instability that seem, in a word, inevitable.  On that topic, we certainly picked an interesting year to take on the challenge of feeding ourselves locally. Seven months in, and 2019 is already a year of unprecedented destruction to American agriculture. While it will take some time to fully measure the damage–estimates are already well into the billions of dollars–there is no question that our continent’s bread basket has been devastated by flooding.  Many farms remain unplanted, and the future of large swaths of agricultural land is entirely uncertain.  

To add insult to injury, the midwest flooding has created one of the largest dead zones in oceanic history, another looming disaster that has yet to be measured but will surely have a severe impact on Gulf Coast fisheries.  Industrial, chemical-intensive farming practices are directly linked to the inability of the landscape to retain and infiltrate water and the toxic, nitrogenous content of the effluent emptying into the ocean. By fighting nature to feed ourselves, we end up with vulnerability in both our food production systems and the wild stocks that we harvest for human consumption.

As disasters continue to pile up–and all indications are that they will–the need for local food systems based on regenerative, soil-first practices will become all the more obvious.  And yes, there is some fun to be had along the way. We worked through the coffee craving, and our ducks did manage to eke out two eggs to pair with Nate and Bekki Siemens’ Eagleville-grown wheat flour for some pancakes.  Now we are canning some gorgeous apricots (huge thanks to Sue Becker for the invitation to harvest her tree) for which we will be extremely grateful this winter, along with the delicious cherries we canned and dried from Lily Hillis’ tree last week.  What the LFX lacks in convenience and ease, it makes up for in meaning and clarification of priorities. Big love to everyone that is with us on this journey!