Readings That Matter
One advantage (and I can't think of any other) of summer viruses is increased couch time, so, yes, increased reading time. I've done that couch time in the last month. I've enjoyed lots of stories by Kentuckians motivated to build the missing components of a resilient, self-reliant food system. In bourbon-speak, let's say these articles bubble to the top in the mash of Kentucky food articles inside that giant fermenter, the worldwideweb.
Grass fed beef and global warming: Sarah Fritschner calms down the meat-and-methane debate with reason and facts based in a wide world view. "...meat production on grassland like the rolling hills of Kentucky is considered by many to be good for the earth, good for farming and good for our health."
SEEDS Blossom At Tallgrass Farm: Lois Mateus and TIm Peters kindly invited the students in Seedleaf's summer intensive training program to take a fun field trip from Lexington to Mercer County, courtesy of their Tallgrass Farm Foundation. Edible Louisville & The Bluegrass Region asked me to write about the trip, and sent wonderful photographer Andrew Hyslop to catch some of the day's magic in photos. The print article in the current issue of Edible Louisville shows Andy's photos beautifully.
And now, let me interrupt all this seriousness for an announcement: beignets. Yes, real ones, fried in Red Wattle heritage lard can be yours if you have good timing. And maybe a bit of luck.
Travis Hood (of Hood's Heritage Hogs at Two Forks Farm in Robertson County) and Meemaw (good guess—there they are, below) are still working out the schedule and the system. Here it is for now. On alternate Saturdays at the downtown Lexington Farmers Market and on Sundays at the Southland edition of the LFM, you may get lardy-lucky. Beignets are cooked to order, so the one you get is fresh and hot. Look for these intrepid beignet producers. Encourage them. Read here to get to know more about the smart, hard-working, multiple-job-working crew at Two Forks Farm.
From sweet pastry to sweet reading, the recent series of insightful blog posts from honorary Savoring Kentucky blog sponsor Seedleaf, Inc., may make you feel better about life in general. Certainly it speaks of quiet hope for the future of food self-reliance, food justice and community in central Kentucky. There are more posts than these; I picked a few favorites as starting places:
Only A Job: Founder and director Ryan Koch writes about the small steps Seedleaf is making toward job creation. "One Seedleafer in particular is worth mentioning here. I did not intend to hire Jevincio Tooson when I met him a year ago. He visited the Roosevelt Blvd Community Garden last fall with Dr. Mary Arthur’s class for UK freshmen, and this guy was friendly, chatty, engaging. He asked thoughtful questions throughout our brief time together. A crabby part of me wanted to tell him, Calm down, young man; its just a community garden. But his enthusiasm won the day. Instead of infecting him with my cynicism, I began to see that space anew, through his eyes."
Our Product Is Connection: "I notice groups of people coming into the garden to help: they begin to learn each others names, they weed a row of tomatoes, they share recollections of gardening as children, they talk about a recipe for a green bean salad, they leave as a group, though different from the group that entered."
Late Summer Gratitude: Laurel Dixon, Seedleaf's wonderful, skilled, committed, departing Americorps VISTA volunteer, reflects as she moves forward. "Sharing food is the essence of Seedleaf’s community garden mission—and when we share food together, we share something deeper as well. We share a place. Culture. Belonging. Kindness. Tomatoes. And a community that often starts with something as simple as a dish of green beans, or a quiche, or strawberries. A simplicity that leads to something complex and beautiful. A meal where everyone is invited to the table."
Attention Cultivates Affection: "Since 2013, Seedleaf has been engaged in several concurrent experiments in land stewardship, in owning and caring for five (now seven) neglected spaces, very marginal agricultural land. We are finding that the narrow lots thrive, become verdant, productive spaces, as soon as they get the proper attention. In fact, the more care and concern a piece of land receives, the more it seems to respond with new growth. This relationship is not linear. It seems to move in two directions. Attention cultivates affection. The earth does a work on the worker."
As I finish this post, some much less delightful reading appeared. Linda Blackford reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader that in the first year of the University of Kentucky's lamented dining service contract with Aramark, the University included $1 million in Coca Cola purchases in order to "meet" the contract goal of buying 20 percent of food locally. Some of the key leaders within the University and the state who may have some influence on the situation say they will work for improvement. There's plenty to improve.