Make Mine Local (dot com)
After a recent post about local sources of lamb and goat, one of Kentucky small farms' finest champions wrote me: "I just got a lamb from Larry Swartz in Lancaster, KY. I buy one from him every year and I think they are wonderful. He is such a good farmer. He doesn't sell at farmer's markets, but just markets lamb and beef to individuals."
I asked for contact information, and got it.
"'Larry Swartz and Genia McKee have Windhover Farm at 4010 Poor Ridge, Lancaster, KY. 40444, phone number 859-792-9660. They have a portable sawmill and produce quality lumber; they have Percheron horses and farm in many of the old ways. Their food products are Cheviot sheep, freezer beef and dairy goats. Both really have a passion for the land and are good sustainable farmers."
I am so glad to know about Larry and Genia - and I bet you are, too. We need them, and they need us. So how do we find out people like them, except by accident? How do we learn about the growers near us, and how do they find us?
About 18 months ago I had a coffee shop epiphany (always possible at brilliant, sweet Third Street Stuff Cafe near my house). I realized that people interested in local food -- as eaters, providers, and chefs -- could build a cooperative, wiki-style website together to help each other find local sources of food, drink, and more - including music, art, dishes, table linens -- most of what we need for living.
In 2001, Partners for Family Farms developed a Kentucky Grown Directory (PDF, 320KB) that chefs and growers are still using to find each other. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has many helpful tools, including a directory of Kentucky Farmers Markets.
Yet it's still hard for us to find each other. I have kept the early result of my epiphany up and running -- or at least up and present in about one percent of its potential -- but have not worked recently to get others to pitch in and raise this website together. We can if we want. It's a tool available for use.
Go to Make Mine Local to get a sense of how it works, and how it could work. Let me know if you would like a personal tour so you can contribute to the website. I'll arrange it.