LocalHarvest News - May 14, 2007

This month LocalHarvest's Erin Barnett reminisces about the joy of visiting farms while traveling, and offers some resources for you to do the same.

Farm Vacations -- A New Way to Travel
Over spring break when I was a senior in college, some friends and I drove from Minnesota to the West Coast. Along the way we stopped and spent two days with one of the guy's relatives on a farm in Idaho. They had been dairy farmers, his people, but at the time of our visit they were retired and the cows had been sold. Still, the place was a real farm, and we got to work a little, walk a lot, and eat great food. We brushed two huge dusty draft horses until our arms were sore. We helped fix some fences and climbed into the hayloft and generally had a good time. The snowcapped mountains in the distance and the wildflowers in the yard made the place feel nothing short of magical after five months of Midwestern winter. I liked the life there.

I had already been bitten by the farming bug, but if I hadn't been, those days in Idaho might have done it. Though I did not grow up to be a farmer, I still make a point of spending as much time on other people's farms as I can. For me, it beats a Holiday Inn hands down. Next to the scenery and the food, the work itself is always the best part. It makes me feel whole.

If your summer isn't yet booked up, maybe it is a good year to spend some time on a farm! Many farmers open their doors to travelers, who can expect all sorts of different accommodations and experiences. If you are looking for something to give you the flavor of farm life but feel mostly like a vacation, you could spend a weekend at a farm offering 'farm vacations' (think: simple B&B meets working farm). If you are up for a farm-stay that might be more intensive in terms of either time or work, you could look into arranging a farm internship, which can vary in length from a week to a year.

The Internet is a good place to start researching what is available near home or somewhere you have been wanting to visit. You can start with a Google search on 'farm vacation.' Several states and Canadian provinces also have websites listing such opportunities. Here are three to get you started: Pennsylvania, California and Maine. This time next year, look for an "agritourism" search feature on LocalHarvest itself!

If you are interested in something a little less vacation-oriented, check out the WWOOF - USA website. WWOOF (World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is an international organization connecting travelers with organic farms. You might also look into Organic Volunteers, a WWOOF-offshoot.

One day back at that farm in Idaho so many years ago, my friend and I planted saplings in the yard. The spirit of the place inspired us to make up a little song to sing to each tree as we put it in its hole. No awe-inspiring lyrics here, but somehow it fit the sentiment of the afternoon perfectly. To the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat", it went like this:

Grow, grow, grow little tree
Tall and strong and green
Plant your roots deep in the earth
and have a happy life.

Fifteen years later that funny song still comes to me when I am planting seedlings in my garden. Farm vacations can make a deep impression.

From the LocalHarvest Catalog:

In the doghouse with Mom because you didn't get around to sending flowers? Make it up to her with a bouquet of organic flowers. She'll forgive you the minute she lays eyes on them.

If you're ready to fire up the grill but are tired of your usual meat choices, maybe it's time to try one of our more interesting grill-ables: we have elk burgers, buffalo brats, Cornish game hens, emu steaks, rainbow trout, and much more!

Nancy's Nutrition Corner: Fabulous Flax

This month's featured food is the cunningly unassuming flax seed. You've heard about the importance of omega 3 fatty acids, and we know about the need for dietary fiber. Flax seeds are an excellent source of both, providing protection against heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, eczema, arthritis and more. (Read on...)

In the Kitchen with Flax
By Lorna Sass

Flax seeds are invited into most kitchens because of their impressive health-promoting qualities. But most cooks and eaters soon begin to value them for their nutty taste and silken texture. While seeds have pleasing taste and crunch, only the ground meal is digestible. Although flax meal is easy to buy, for freshness I prefer to buy whole seeds and grind about a cupful at a time in a coffee grinder reserved for that purpose. Once ground, flax meal must be refrigerated (to avoid rancidity) and used within a few weeks. About 1/4 cup of whole flax seeds yields 1/3 cup meal. (Recipes and More...)

As always, thanks for your interest in and support of LocalHarvest.org! See you next month, and until then, take good care and eat well!