We are about to watch another cornfield in town get developed - houses, condos, roads and driveways. I’m sure the people who will live there would love our little farm town. But will it still be a farm town when they get here? What makes a farm town? Are you still a farm town if travelers through town don’t see any farming?
We are 3rd generation farmers. in 1950, my husband’s grandparents moved from their small plot in East Hartford, to a beautiful piece of land in just south of the center of town on Rt. 10 in Granby. They noted how flat it was and how the brook wandered through it, bisecting the 50 acres and therefore providing easy access to water - something coveted by farmers. But they didn’t start the farm. It was already a working dairy farm and the cows and tractors came with the land, written right on the deed registered in town hall. Our land that provides food for our family and our neighbors has been farmed back to Granby’s settlement in 1635, with the land along the southern part of Route 10 divided in long strips from the road down to the Salmon Brook.
Passing the farm through generations can be tough. Many "farm kids” don’t want to come back to the family land. Too much work. Not enough money. And this is reality for lots of family farms. But really, a family farm is a small business. In order for the family farm to survive, the small business has to thrive. Otherwise, the only option is to sell the land. When we patronize family farms, we’re not just supporting the current farmers, we’re encouraging the next generation as well. Thriving family businesses are more likely to be handed down generation to generation and therefore farmland is more likely to stay in farming.
Many farms are doing a great job diversifying, adding value added products and creating multiple income streams: veggie farms that use the produce they grow in their on-farm restaurant, goat farms offering soap, vineyards offering a space for weddings. Our farm just opened an on-farm brewery where we feed our spent brewer’s grains to our pigs.
By the time the developer is talking to the planning and zoning board it is too late. Some sort of development is under way. The time to save farmland is right now - so get out and stop at a local farm store, eat brunch or a slice of pie, have a beer, or a glass of wine. Our Farm Town depends on it.
You know it’s “cool” to eat local – to call yourself a locavore, wear a man-bun and grind your own fair trade coffee. You feel good about yourself because your banana farmer in South America is getting paid a fair wage and you know the names of your local farmer’s kids. But really – What’s in it for YOU to shop local? I mean, it’s expensive, it’s time consuming, right? Maybe not so much when you consider the whole picture.
So, that’s what’s in it for you: A lot. Hope to see you soon.
This is the written transcript of my comments made during the Public Comment section of the 2/3/16 Board of Ed meeting.
I had the opportunity to speak to the 4th graders at Wells Rd School a couple of weeks ago. Mrs. Cloukey asked me to speak. The children were doing research for opinion pieces they were writing and after reading articles and watching a video on the subject of school lunch, they asked me to serve as a further source. I was asked to come speak because as a farmer, a mother and a community member, I am known to have strong opinions on the topic. In fact, I spoke to you about school lunch two years ago (you can find those comments on my website). I made the same case to the 4th graders that I made to you two years ago: processed food has no business in our schools.
It was a fun back and forth with my engaged audience. I first asked them why they came to school in the first place? Hands went up with answers like “to learn”, “schools have resources we don’t have at home”, and “teachers”. Then I asked if learning about nutrition was important. Yes, they said emphatically, citing that you could only live a certain amount of days (we weren’t really clear on EXACTLY), without food or you DIE. And, food helps keep you healthy. I told them, that in fact the administration agrees because there is curriculum about nutrition taught in our schools. Then we talked about messages inside their school. Do you have R rated books in the library? I asked them. NO, they answered. Well, how about those motorcycles they let you ride out on the playground… those must be fun, I egged them on. After some roaring laughter, we agreed that teachers and the administration don’t offer just any toys and games to play with on the playground, but only ones that are appropriate for the ages of the kids at school. What about signs like these: do you see signs like these in the lunchroom?
I wrote on the board:
PUT YOU’RE TRAY HERE
Laughter again. Of course not. Because we don’t teach math and grammar ONLY in the classroom. Positive messages are posted everywhere in school. And that’s why we should give positive messages through the food we offer them every day. After a discussion about what is good food and testing my hypothesis: Good Food Grows, it was clear that processed food is not good food. Quick test for you: Do Doritos grow? Pop Tarts? I’ve been combing through my seed catalogs for a few weeks now and still haven’t seen a Doritos seed.
This conversation is again timely because the US government recently released the 2015-2020 Federal Dietary Guidelines. This year, more than ever, the guidelines are clear: processed food is NOT good for our bodies. We NEED to limit added sugar and salt. But this is not a discussion about outlawing processed food. If you want to eat a bowl of Doritos this weekend while watching the Superbowl, I promise I’m not coming over to your house to grab them out of your kid's hand. I’m not lobbying Stop and Shop to stop selling anything in a package. I’m asking you. School. Stop telling our kids that added sugar and salt is OK for their bodies. That’s exactly what you’re doing by putting a pile of chips right at the end of the lunch line. And, honestly, you’re telling parents it’s OK too. But as parents, we’re not there to see how our kids are moderating. And many of them aren’t. Talk to the cashier of the Wells Rd. lunch line. I did last week. She is very upset about the kids she sees who end up buying and eating a strawberry milk, a couple of cookies and a bag of chips for lunch.
Now, I understand that the school lunch program needs to be profitable. We need to think outside the box and brainstorm new ways of doing things in the lunchroom. Because it is unethical to be balancing the budget of the school lunch program by offering our kids snacks that current science says are not good for their bodies.
I spoke to you about this two years ago and we made some progress. Healthy School Lunch certification is a great thing. But just because our government says that Baked Doritos can be included in a “healthy lunch”, doesn’t mean we have to toe the line too. We’re not in the pockets of the Big Food companies they way the USDA is. I’m bringing this up again now because the stakes are about to get higher: Next school year we will be sending our kindergarteners, our 5 year-olds to Kelly Lane where they will have access to a healthy hot lunch every day. Please don’t send them the message that chips and ice cream are part of that healthy lunch.
I’m excited to get to work on this. I had a great talk with Dave and Rosemary at the Wells Road cafeteria last week and am looking forward to meeting with them again to brainstorm ideas. But in order to make lasting change in our community, the Board of Ed and the administration need to embrace a vision of health for our kids and then we need to put it into action in every cafeteria in the district. I very much appreciate your time. I am always reachable and would love to hear from you at email@example.com.
by Owen Bogli
Did you know that 18% of kids ages 11 to 14 are obese? This is because so many children eat unhealthy foods everyday. I think that kids ages 11 to 14 should eat healthier because of health issues, the amount of expenses due to being unhealthy, how being unhealthy will affect you in the future, and how being unhealthy will affect your performance in daily life.
My first reason that kids 11 to 14 should eat healthier is because of the impact on their health. Some health issues that you could develop during childhood is heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, asthma, and sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious disease in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. Asthma is a respiratory problem marked by symptoms in the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar. Heart diseases are all sorts of diseases that affect the heart in negative ways. All of these diseases can really hurt your body. If you have these diseases then you are at a higher risk for dying at a younger age. 35.7% of adults are obese and 17% of kids are obese in the U.S.A. if you eat unhealthy, then when you are an adult, or even right now, then your could become obese. 40,000 people die each year due to eating unhealthy. All of this means that eating unhealthy could damage your body, or even kill you.
Another reason for eating healthy is the expenses that come from it. In 2005, the U.S. spent $190 billion on obesity related health care. If you are obese, then you will have to pay $6,454 more than a person that is healthy due to medical expenses. You may say that you could do anything with your life and that it won’t affect anyone else. Well, if you say that, then you are wrong. Parents could pass obesity down generations so that their children and their grandchildren could have obesity problems just like their father or grandfather. You may say that eating healthy costs more. Yes, it does. It costs as much as $1.50 a day. But would you rather pay $1.50 more a day and live a long, healthy life, or would you like to save just $1.50 and live a shorter less healthy life where you would not be able to do as much due to being unhealthy. In sum, this means that you will have to pay to eat healthier, but in the long term, the thing that will cost you the most is eating unhealthily. And that price is your healthy life.
Being unhealthy in childhood won’t only affect you in childhood. The problems and diseases are long term or even permanent. Some things that may occur if you don't eat healthy are: Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, asthma, deficiencies of the senses, and a number of other problems. Some permanent diseases are diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In the future, you will be hurt by this: dying of cancer, having your senses dulled, having your heart stopping, or having a stroke at a young age.
One day I was sitting on sitting on my couch, talking to my family and the subject of what is in "Coke Zero" arose. One specific Ingredient was one we started to talk about "Aspartame". It is an artificial sweetener used in many foods. Just like most sweeteners used, it is harmful to you. This ingredient is so amazingly unhealthy it is amazing. This is the definition of Aspartame:
According to the patent, which is available for the public to read online, genetically modified E. coli are cultivated in tanks and fed so that they can defecate the proteins that contain the aspartic acid-phenylalanine amino acid segment used to make aspartame. Ok, so that is a lot of big words, so I will tell you basically what it means. This means that they have large tanks, full of the E. Coli bacteria. E. Coli. E. Coli is a deadly virus found in raw meat. They then feed that deadly bacteria so that it poops. They then harvest the poop and there you have your yummy, disgusting artificial sweetener. Some people this this sweetener even causes cancer. If you think that this is a thing that is not used much, then think again, aspartame is used in the following everyday products: Carbonated soda, powdered soda, chewing gum, jelly, dessert mixes, puddings, fillings, frozen desserts, yogurt, and tabletop sweeteners.
You may say, “Well, you keep telling us to eat healthy, but you are not telling us what to eat.” Well that is what I am going to tell you right now. You should eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, and grains. Half of your food for the day should be fruits and vegetables. About one quarter of your daily meals should be protein and another quarter should be grains. For a child 11 to 14 that would be 500 calories from fruits. 500 calories from veggies. 500 calories should be from protein and 500 calories should be grains. That means that the average 11 to 14 year old would eat 2000 calories of food. By eating healthy you will not have to worry about most of the health problems that I have talked about.
One important thing that your should know about eating healthy is how it affects daily life. Eating unhealthy affects daily life in a few different ways. Let’s start in the morning. Eating a good breakfast will make your feel energized and full for the rest of the day until lunch. Eating a healthy lunch will give you brain power and strength for your job or school. At dinner, eating a healthy dinner will make your feel good for bedtime. Eating healthy for the entire day will make your feel good during your sleep and it will help your get a good night’s sleep.
I think that kids ages 11 to 14 should eat healthier because of health issues, the amount of expenses due to being unhealthy, how being unhealthy will affect you in the future, and how being unhealthy will affect your performance in daily life. 18% of kids ages 11 to 14 are obese. This is because children eat in unhealthy ways. Please make sure that you kids, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins are eating healthy. Remember, if you don’t eat healthy, then you don’t live healthy.
Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <https://www.wikipedia.org/>.
"A Healthy Diet for a 12-Year-Old." LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.
"Healthy Eating for 10-11 Year Olds." Healthy Eating. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/healthy-eating-1011-year-olds-7462.html>.
"The Risks of Poor Nutrition." :: SA Health. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <http://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public content/sa health internet/healthy living/is your health at risk/the risks of poor nutrition>.
The growing season is coming up and it sounds fun to join the club of “Local Foodies”, but there’s work, kids activities, let’s face it, LIFE. Who has time to spend all day going around to local farms to gather up food you don’t think your kids or your husband are going to eat anyway? Here are my top 5 ways to make the transition from big box processed food diet to local veggie-based whole foods diet (really, it’s not that scary!)
1. Ask for what you want, but buy what they have. Farmers love feedback from their customers! Want more tomatoes in your CSA share? No nitrates in your sausage? We want to hear what you like and don’t like about what we’re growing because pleasing you will keep you coming back. But if we don’t have this or that just now, don’t walk away with nothing. The recipe called for flank steak and the farmer’s all out? Maybe skirt steak will work just as well; or maybe you just change to burgers for dinner. You LOVE roasted carrots? Try parsnips!
2. Try one thing at a time: Start slow and ease into the local eating diet. Changing from eating big brands and packaged foods from the one-stop grocery market to seeking out farmers and eating whole foods is a big change – give yourself time. Try doing one thing this season: Join a CSA, commit to buying meat from a local farm once a week (or once a month), go out for a glass of wine at a local vineyard instead of your favorite restaurant, make the local Farmer’s Market a weekly habit. Any ONE of these changes can improve the quality of your diet by leaps and bounds.
3. Talk to insiders. Farmers, friends, Facebook and your local health food store are all great places to look to get advice about local eating. Don’t know where to go for milk? As your CSA farmer. Who still has shares available at a local CSA? Ask in your local Facebook group. Want bones to make bone broth? Ask how-to at the health food store.
4. Double up – Lots of small farms are now trying to offer more for their customer: they raise meat and also stock local dairy products in their farm store. They grow veggies, but offer meat in their CSA once in a while. Use your resources to find these gems. You might pay a bit more for having all those products in one place, but the reduction in travel time is worth it.
5. Take advantage and try something new. Instead of eschewing the bad, sugar-laden processed stuff (you can do that too!), try adding in more good stuff: try some Bok Choy, or that lean grass feed ground beef. And take advantage of the tools your farmer offers: try the recipes they send out in their CSA newsletter or website. Make sure up to show up with your farmer’s annual tour day – then corner the farmer to ask all your questions. A well-educated eater is a farmer’s best customer.
Try these 5 tips this summer and see if you can make some changes stick. Your farmer and your body will thank you!
Last night the Town of Granby’s Town-Owned Land Study Committee held a public meeting to solicit ideas about what to do with 107 East Street (formerly the Evonsian Farm), a property recently acquired by the town. I felt so grateful to hear so many residents of our town speak in support of farming in Granby. Here are the comments I made:
“I’d like to see the land stay as it is right now (in corn). I know you’ve been charged with coming up with a purpose for this newly acquired town asset, but let’s not forget: this land is not new, just new to the town. The farmers who owned it and their neighbors have been farming this land for years.
“Keeping land in farmland is important to keeping the rural nature of our town and staying true to its farming heritage. Granby can’t FEEL like a farm town if we aren’t actually farming. The reason our town feels like a farm town – different from others – is because we drive past acres of corn growing, farmers making hay in the summertime, cattle and horses grazing in fields, row after row of vegetables growing, and old apple trees heavy with fruit.
“The farmers who are currently using this land need it. They grow food for their animals who in turn grow food for us. I’d like to see the town let them continue.”
There is still time to give your opinion on how this property should be used. A survey will be available April 1st on the town’s website, granby-ct.gov. Fill it out and let the them know what you value in our town.
A blog about farming and food. Kate Bogli owns and operates Maple View Farm, raising livestock and growing veggies, with her husband Jason. The farm has been in his family for 65 years.