We Welcome Elmwood Stock Farm to the Savoring Kentucky Sponsor Group
A lot of questions in my life with Kentucky food have the same answer: Elmwood Stock Farm. These questions, for example:
- Who grows certified organic vegetables, chicken, eggs, turkeys, and beef in central Kentucky, less than 17 miles from my front door?
- Who raises animals on pasture, yielding grass-fed, richly flavorful Black Angus beef, plus grass-fed chickens, turkeys, lambs, and eggs?
- Who grew the broccoli in this week's Cream of Broccoli soup, which we served at Cornbread Supper? (As in: Who grew that particular local broccoli in 2012, blanched and froze it in little freezer packs, and then included the broccoli as part of the giant double sacks that come with our Winter CSA shares so we could share local Cream of Broccoli soup with friends as snowflakes fall?)
- Who introduced us to Black Spanish radishes, watermelon radishes, daikon, Bordeaux spinach, Delicata squash, Green Zebra heirloom tomatoes, Marquis and Mars seedless grapes, Fields of Plenty, and too many recipes to count?
- Who coaches us gently, genially, patiently, across years, about the work, costs, commitments and benefits of growing plants and animals organically?
Elmwood Stock Farm's owners, a multi-generational family, trace their farming heritage back at least six generations. Sound farming practices like rotational grazing, raising both plants and animals, and "resting" fields have sustained the family's farmlands across those years. Ann Bell Stone says the transition to 100 percent certified organic production for all of the farm's 375 acres began about 15 years ago, with 365 acres now certified, leaving only 10 acres in transition to organic. In addition, Ann's brother John Bell now manages the farm that once belonged to their grandparents; that farm also became certified organic last year.
Each member of the Bell-Stone tribe, including Ann and John's parents, takes management responsibility for particular aspects of Elmwood's rich complexity: hay, cattle, turkeys, poultry, lambs, vegetables, marketing, pasture, construction, burley tobacco, composting, labor, record-keeping, and more. Although we cannot understand fully all that is involved, we can enjoy the results when we visit the overflowing Elmwood tables during summer farmers' markets or bring home the abundance of a single Elmwood Winter CSA share.
Some summers, Elmwood succeeds in producing certified organic sweet corn, a feat that dazzles. From the little I know about organic production, I imagine the roots of that splendid corn go back more than three years, as Elmwood farmers planned which crops to plant in which fields, making savvy decisions that built soil health and decreased pests without poisons and expensive external soil amendments.
Perhaps 15 years ago, a splendid, multi-color array of late summer peppers at the Lexington Farmers Market first drew me into Elmwood Stock Farm's group of happy customers. Ann Bell and Mac Stone, who met when their stands at the Lexington Farmers Market adjoined each other, had not yet married—though they may have been thinking about it. Since I met them, these two Elmwood owners have influenced and often supplied what I eat for nearly every meal, nearly every day. In fact, recently I remembered Walter de la Mare's poem, "Miss T." It begins:
It's a very odd thing -
As odd can be -
That whatever Miss T eats
Turns into Miss T.
I realized that what I eat is mostly what Elmwood grows. I am, very likely, made up of Elmwood molecules. This (inedible) pie chart reflects my guesses about my food sources across a year:
One final question. Who is Savoring Kentucky's newest treasured sponsor? With gratitude and pleasure, we announce the answer: Elmwood Stock Farm.
If you want to expand the Elmwood percentage in your own personal pie chart, sign up for Elmwood's 2013 CSA, or visit Elmwood at the Lexington Farmers Market, which opens outdoors at the Fifth Third Pavilion on Saturday, April 13. Until then, Elmwood attends each Saturday indoor market at Victorian Square, too. Elmwood has not missed a Saturday Market day in more than 18 years.
Required FTC disclosure, a little silly in this particular case, but here it is: Elmwood Stock Farm sponsors Savoring Kentucky.
Graphing tool credit: National Center for Education Statistics—thank you!