What Gets My Goat
This goat with the sloe-doe eyes and confectioners sugar-dipped ears and muzzle is not my goat. She is a darling at lovely Bleugrass Chevre Farm, and she did her nuzzly best to become the darling of the Lexington Farmers Market Second Annual Farm Tour on June 20.
I had no idea bottle fed goats sport the visceral appeal of a sturdy horse crossed with a good-natured dog, but so it is with "the girls" at Bleugrass Chevre.
My happy little party of three enjoyed the goats and the cheesemaking room at Bleugrass Chevre, and then drove to the compact herb and vegetable gardens at Henkle's Herbs & Heirlooms in Nicholasville. A few minutes with any of the farmers we met on the tour could convince a frozen stone that the people who grow our food love what they do, and are good at it.
The problem? They need more of us to buy what they grow and produce. They could use better distribution systems and more affordable market and marketing options. I'm for that 1000 percent.
Here's what gets my goat: In spite of all the energy and skills poured into social networking monsters like facebook and twitter -- and I do use both, and value both -- we are still waiting for the perfect social/local marketing software that will accelerate our farmers' sales of their flavorful, delicious, healthy products straight to us. I wish I had majored in databases, but I wasn't thinking ahead when I studied 20th Century American Poetry and Eighteenth Century Opera.
Having forgotten everything I paid good tuition money to learn, what I know now amounts to what I can look up online. "Online" is just another way of saying I look in a place that works like a giga-miracle because of the sweat poured into it by people who develop and manage databases. Perhaps it's true that most database developers live on a steady diet of cheese curls, large diet sodas, and Ensure (for dessert). Maybe they are not foodies or people enamored of local economies. More likely, the people who pay database gurus to stay in the darkened rooms with the empty Cheetos bags do not see ways to make millions from small farms and their patrons. Whatever the reason, those in charge of databases have not taken on the challenge of helping locally grown food and nearby forks find each other in a mutually happy economic exchange. As a result, the information/technology overload we sometimes rue does not extend to the likes of Henkle Herbs & Heirlooms and Bleugrass Chevre.
I do not expect the people in those fine establishments to address this problem of the missing databases themselves. They have goats to milk, cheese to strain, tomatoes to sucker, and cilantro that needs its head chopped off so it won't go to seed. No time to go to database summer camp. So how can they get ample quantities of their quality products into our hands?
Bless the ones who keep trying to solve this puzzle of farm-to-us sales. Here's a worthy new attempt, Locavore Network, born out of one man's frustrated efforts to find again the peach orchards he remembered visiting as a child. So flavor made him do it. Dan Sutton is building a whopper online farm/vineyard locator out of love for flavor and those who nurture it along.
Locavore Network includes basic information on thousands of farms, orchards, vineyards, wineries, and restaurants nationwide, findable by state. Many of the Kentucky listings were news to me, places I had never heard of -- which is exciting -- although most listings throughout the site offer only skimpy information so far. It's a fine effort, though, and Savoring Kentucky hereby officially designates Dan Sutton as a Peach of a Man for his commitment to using databases in the service of small farms and farmers.