It’s amazing how many children have no idea where their food comes from. Our schools are incorporating more of this important education in the current curriculum. Our farm is a novelty to most children who visit. They see it as a place to come drive around and pet animals. The truth is our farm provides a lot of meat, eggs and vegetables every year.
Recently, I went with my daughters’ Girl Scout troop out to their beloved Camp NOARK for a spring campout. They have a leader who creatively plans relevant activities for their age group. She has been able to keep the girls involved in scouting through ninth grade and counting.
This trip, the girls were focused on what is called the Locavore badge. They were tasked with learning about where to source food from local farms, the importance of local food and even learned to prepare it through a cooking competition.
The day of the trip, I hopped in line at Reagan Family farms here in Fayetteville, Ark. Their fresh strawberries have a reputation of popularity in our community. If patrons do not arrive early, they may sell out while people wait in line. I was able to get a flat and some local honey for the girls to use that weekend.
When we headed to the campout, I loaded my cooler with our farm fresh eggs and some beef we had recently butchered from our own herd. The girls’ leader showed up with freshly picked mint from her garden and some pickles she had canned last year.
During that weekend, we took the girls to the local Huntsville, Ark., farmer’s market and the Huntsville pantry. The pantry is known for locally-sourced staples and homemade goods. The girls acquired homemade bread, cinnamon rolls and other ingredients for their foodie adventure. We were happy to patronize a few local farmers in the process of gathering their goodies.
When the girls returned to the chalet at our campout, we set up workstations complete with a box of mystery ingredients. They worked mightily for about an hour chopping, cooking and baking inside the small kitchen. When they had exhausted themselves with creativity, each of the adult chaperones was presented with the opportunity to taste their concoctions.
I am going to be honest here; some of the plate presentations were a little scary looking. We were brave and tasted each item with an open mind. It was impressive to watch these young culinarians put locally-sourced food into their creations.
After much debate, the winner was presented with a gift card to a favorite local coffee shop in Fayetteville. Each Girl Scout walked away from the weekend knowing how to source local farm-fresh ingredients. They had confidence in themselves to prepare food that was creative and edible.
I hope I can make it my mission to educate more people on the importance of farming in our community. We have a grand opportunity with this generation of children to help them appreciate local farms and shopping in their own community. As farmer’s markets open across the country, I hope you have an opportunity to patronize some of them, neighbor.
Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’