As a kid, I looked forward to three things about my summer trips to my grandparents' 160-acre Iowa farm: hiding out with my favorite book in the abandoned chicken coop, letting the calves suck my thumb, and feeding piglet runts from a baby bottle. Other than that, I thought everything about farm life was utterly uncool. The infamous swine smell, the coffee cans of rendered pork fat, and early-morning chores. Those things gave me the heebie-jeebies. I never dreamed that the habits of my grandparents, like collecting kitchen scraps for compost or putting up green beans for the winter, would be ones that I adopt, embrace, even exalt.
So I’ve grown up a little. And embraced my farm heritage. And experienced my first recession. It seems the rest of the country is right there with me—we’ve all grown up a little, and are finally seeing farming for what it really is—challenging, necessary and beautiful.
It doesn’t hurt that farmers, food journalists and chefs have laid the groundwork of making farm-to-table the chicest catch-phrase of the decade. So it won’t hurt for me to use that phrase just one more time—farm-to-table starts with you, in your own backyard (or fire escape, or windowsill). You don’t have to own overalls or piglets to embrace your inner farmer. Just a pot, some dirt, and a few seeds. And go ahead and collect your kitchen scraps while you’re at it. Ask a neighbor or a farmer at your local market if you can add them to their compost pile, or better yet, start your own.
Watch for more tips on how to get started when our second episode in our Good Food Gardens series airs this Friday.