I really felt lost on Saturday. At 7:30 a.m. I should have been on my bike heading up my street toward the Land of Goshen Community Market, something I’d been doing every single Saturday since mid-May. But market season is over for this year.
Luckily, I was blessed with an alternative—The Family Garden, run by Jackie Mills from New Douglas, IL, extended an invitation to market customers for an Open House at their farm on Saturday. So, we headed (in the car, of course) to New Douglas with our friend Darlene McGee—an awesome local photographer—and her daughter Jess, hoping to find that feeling of being connected to the local landscape and its bounty.
We weren’t disappointed. Jackie and her family gave us a grand tour, let us feed the horses and steers some treats, get up close and personal with the happy hens, admire the angora rabbits, pet Bear the Great Pyrenees and purchase (yeah!) farm-fresh eggs, just-harvested beef and some last-of-the-season greens.
You may remember that I shopped quite a bit at The Family Garden booth this summer, beginning with blueberries, continuing with the sweetest sweet corn on Earth and still going strong with egg deliveries.
It is so gratifying to see the land and meet the people who grow your food. It makes it real—you understand the hard work of farming—especially natural and organic farming—a little better. You are assured the animals are humanly treated. And suddenly, you really understand why you might be spending a little extra money to by local.
The Family Garden prides itself on growing and harvesting produce by hand. You can tell they love their farm, respect their animals and take pride in their products as they hand them over to you.
It is definitely a challenge to eat local in Illinois in the late fall, winter and early spring. We won’t make it one hundred percent, but we’ll do our best. That’s all any of us can do. Awareness, gratitude and a little bit of “making do” will go a long way toward keeping winter as magical, tasty and appreciated as summer. Well… almost.