Have you thanked your farmer today? Do you even know who your local farmers are?
Thanks to an initial farm tour orchestrated by the Arizona Farm Bureau I have begun to answer that question. But hey! You can answer it for yourself too. There are farm bureaus in all 50 states. The American Farm Bureau Federation defines themselves as:
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“…an independent, non-governmental, voluntary organization of farm and ranch families united for the purpose of analyzing their problems, and formulating action to achieve educational improvement, economic opportunity, and social advancement and thereby, to promote the national well-being.”
That’s the fancy way of saying they help and support farmers.
Nothing wrong with that.
I visited 3 farms that are just 30-45 minutes down the road from me. And happily, I’ve discovered Fill Your Plate from the AZ Farm Bureau so that I can seek out local farmers and learn more about who they are and what they produce.
You may not be aware that farming and agriculture is a HUGE part of Arizona’s economy. The state is known for the 5 C’s:
- Copper – we’ve seen mines near Tuzigoot National Monument when we were there recently and last year in Globe when we were blazing a trail around Apache Junction. At first, I thought copper production meant copper cookware à la Mauviel M’héritage (or I guess the francophile in me, wished it!) or pennies, but these days it is mainly copper wiring.
- Cattle, Cotton & Citrus – these 3 components and more make Arizona’s Agriculture a 23.3 billion dollar industry. In fact, if you are eating a salad this winter it’s most likely thanks to an Arizona farmer as 90% of the nation’s leafy vegetables between November and March come from here!
- I first learned about the citrus in this state while interviewing Jim Seley, a grapefruit farmer in Borrego Springs. He said his biggest competition was Arizona, which was such a surprise at the time, but now seeing the orange and lemon trees everywhere we drive, it makes total sense!
- Climate – well nothing much to say about that! There is a reason that people flock here in the winter and as someone who is currently enjoying the wonderfully mild weather, I have to agree. Even in the summer, the farmers have mastered ways to continue to produce food for our plates, adversity drives creativity and efficiency!
Side note, Mr. Misadventures and I got a kick out of figuring out that the 5 C’s work in French too! > Cuivre (copper), cheptel (cattle), coton, citron and climat!
I love farmers and have been lucky enough to interview one or two as well as visit. It is something the Misadventures are deeply passionate about:
- Hawaii: Greenwell Farms
- Locals I Love: Seley Ranch
- Surfing Goat Farm
- Ocean Vodka Farm
- Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
- Lavender Valley Farm
- Hamakua Heritage Farms
When you get a passionate farmer, they literally will talk all day! That was the case with Wes Kerr, a 4th generation dairy farmer from Kerr Dairy. Mr. Misdadventures enjoyed speaking with him, we were even blessed to sit next to him at lunch and continue to ply him with questions that he graciously and enthusiastically answered!
As I mentioned on Instagram, dairy is Arizona’s highest-grossing agricultural sector. Around 177,000 milk cows work in about 180 dairies across the state. Arizona is ranked number 12 in the nation for milk production. Most dairies in Arizona are fairly large, keeping between 1,500 to 2,000 cows. Many remain family-owned. Like Kerr Dairy Farm running strong after 4 generations and 90 years!
So what’s next? Mr. Misadventures and I have a whole list of farms we want to meet and interview here and in Tucson. We are keen to learn about their farming heritage and how and where their foods end up so that we can experience them as close to the farm as possible. So we will be following the journey from farm to plate and share the stories with you – farm to tummy!
In our experience, the stories behind the food we eat are just as interesting as how the chef puts them on a plate! We have a fondness for foraging too, one of our favorite meals being the epic snacks and dishes from the Willows Inn on Lummi Island.
I have every confidence that the farmers and foragers in the state of Arizona are going to be a goldmine!
How about you? Have you visited a local farm or thanked your farmer? Do you enjoy farm-to-table eating? Do tell!
Thanks again go to the Arizona Farm Bureau for hosting me on their 2018 AZ Farm Tour Day.
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