Sunday, November 23, 2008

Local farmers find inspiration abroad

Today’s Leger-Enquirer includes a feature I wrote about Chris and Jenny Jackson, two young Pine Mountain Farmers who recently went to Italy for the biennial Terre Madre conference, which this year brought together 7,000 farmers, food producers, chefs and educators committed to promoting traditional foods, local farms and sustainable agriculture. You can watch a short video featuring Chris and Jenny and their farm, courtesy of Ledger-Enquirer videographer Joe Paull, by going to the Ledger-Enquirer home page, scrolling down and clicking on the organic farming video.

There wasn’t room in the story to include much detail about Chris and Jenny's experiences at Terra Madre, so here’s a few more details about their experience in Italy:

This year’s conference focused on young people, and about 1,000 of the participants were, like Chris and Jenny, under 30. Chris and Jenny said they were inspired by the stories of other young farmers they met from places ranging from Ethiopia to Australia. They sampled and savored cacao beans from Mexico, heirloom peaches from Sicily and a procession of other tasty rare and traditional food species from across the globe.

They listened to everyone from the Prince of Wales and the Italian Foreign Minister (albeit on pre-recorded broadcasts) to renowned American chef, author and local food advocate Alice Waters and Indian physicist, environmental activist and author Vandana Shiva, who offered, in Chris and Jenny’s opinion, one of the most the most eloquent and compelling arguments for the need to reform the global food system.
In October, to help raise funds for the 15 Slow Food Atlanta members who traveled to this year’s Terra Madre conference, Chris and Jenny held a benefit “Dinner on the Farm” and played host to some 200 guests who enjoyed a gourmet dinner with heritage hog and an array of side dishes made with produce fresh off the farm. The event was so well received that the Jacksons hope to make an annual tradition of it.

We went to this year's dinner with Will and Owen (who loved running around on the farm and enjoyed the delicious food too). And we'll hope to attend many dinners to come.

Chris and Jenny shared a couple photos from Italy.

Here they’re in Volterra, a small Tuscan town:

And here they are “enjoying an exceptional meal in Cortona” with a college friend and traveling companion:

Also, if you’re interested in reading more about how the local food movement might play into future U.S. food policy, Michael Pollan offers interesting insights in a pre-election letter (entitled “Farmer in Chief”) to whomever would become the president-elect that was published in the New York Times Magazine. As it turned out, Barack Obama read that letter and referenced it in an October interview with Time Magazine.


shannon said...

Sweet! So glad to hear Obama's listening. He's quick, our president.

We are so lucky to have Jenny and Chris here in our backyard! I hope everyone'll check them out and sign up for a CSA to be started in the Harris / Muscogee area with them. I just roasted some of their baby carrots and have never eaten such sweet, golden goodness in a carrot. My kids thought they were candy. I'm also looking forward to making some mushroom pockets out of collards for Thanksgiving (saw in recent Gourmet) with their blue collards. Yum.

shannon said...

. . . and for your holiday brunch you have got to buy some of their stone-ground grits! There are none better. . . .

Annie Addington said...

Oh, to regularly eat Chris and Jenny's produce cooked up by you, Shannon. Of course if I could make it up to the Rose Cottage (where their produce is standard fare), I could do that. It's on my to-do list.

I got to sample Chris and Jenny's pastured eggs in a tasty veggie omelet we made tonight. They were beautiful, deep golden colored eggs -- just like Michael Pollan had promised they would be in Omnivore's dilemma. (I hadn't had a chance to try truly pastured egss since reading that book.) And they're so richly flavored -- it was the best omelet I've had in a long time.

Apparently Chris and Jenny's plans for a local CSA are still very tentative at this point -- but folks who are interested can also look into the Columbus Natural Food CSA (supplied by a few other local farms) here for now: