We need only take a walk through the nearest grocery store to see that there is a problem with the way that we view food in America. Strolling down the aisle of canned soups, and we are hard-pressed to find something with less than 20 ingredients--most of which, we cannot pronounce. The bread aisle is filled with loaves promising multiple benefits to our health, yet it is almost impossible to find one without preservatives and processed sugars. Even the produce section presents a conundrum, as we see fruit and vegetables that appear healthy, yet later discover that they were grown thousands of miles away in a greenhouse, spending most of their lives bathed in a pesticide slurry. Clearly food is not what it used to be.
At the Old Carrigg Farm, we attempt to grow food the way our ancestors have done for millennia--with dedication, trial and error, and common sense. To keep our plants healthy year after year, for example, we constructed a series of raised beds from logs and branches to make crop rotation more manageable. When we have trouble with critters, we use fencing and nets to keep them out. And for fertilizer, nothing works better than local manure and the grass clippings that we also use as a mulch. These are simple, environmentally friendly answers to problems that corporate agribusiness has only further complicated with monocultures, chemicals, and genetic modification.
Currently, we sell fruit and vegetables at a stand just a quarter mile from our small farm, but as our business grows, we are hoping to incorporate other aspects of agriculture like eggs, jams, baked goods, and, one day, meat and dairy. We believe that healthy food comes from healthy farms, which means that diversification is essential. When farms model natural systems, nothing goes to waste, and everything thrives--including the people living off the land! Therefore, although the corporate agricultural model involves growing thousands of acres of a single crop, we believe that our ancestors knew what they were doing when they grew dozens of varieties of fruit, vegetables, and animals.
At the Old Carrigg Farm, we also believe that food should be local. If you would like to know how the head of lettuce we sell is grown, we can take a stroll up the road and see just where it was picked that morning. Of course, eating locally also involves eating seasonally. Here in New England, we have grown accustomed to walking into the supermarket on a January afternoon and picking up a carton of tomatoes, but we all know that the quality is terrible, and the preposterous resources that it took to get those tomatoes into your kitchen. Therefore, we at the Old Carrigg Farm hope to encourage eating the way our ancestors did: seasonally. And although we do not yet offer preserves, we encourage our customers to engage in this once essential activity for themselves.
Finally, eating seasonally is perhaps the best way for us to explain our belief that traditional agriculture promotes a healthy society. When we eat with the seasons, we are forced to lift our eyes from the computer screen or television for just a second and come a little closer to the natural cycles of the earth. It forces us to slow down, to break out our great-grandmother's cook book, and to experiment with what is available. At the Old Carrigg Farm, we believe that the best cultures arise from hard work and hearty meals. And if our produce enables your family to enjoy a delicious dinner--filled with laughter, reminiscing, and the occasional "Wow, Mom, this is great!"--then we have done our job.