Sustainable Food Goodness

Kyle is a full season production crew member here on our farm. He works tirelessly to bring quality produce to the farmstand through long days spent in our fields. This piece reflects his appreciation of the farm and its mission - a love letter and testament of sustainability and the power of a small farm to change a flawed system.

My feet were planted on the farm early in April. My introduction to Cedar Circle life was planting our salad mix and scallions in a hail storm with crew mates, and spending many days in our strawberry field pulling weeds with roots strong enough to stabilize skyscrapers. It has been a good ride thus far: 80 work days with few predictable moments, including sliced fingers and rashes from the spiny squash and wild parsnip. I have new appreciation for a good pair of boots, rain gear with trustworthy zippers, garlic scapes, and anyone who can sew the tears in the asses of my pants.

My prior farming experiences were limited to backyard gardens, raised beds, and porch pots in old homes in Boston and San Francisco, while past studies in landscape architecture led me through a journey of sustainable food systems and urban food streams. I am concerned about sustainable food sources for rising city populations as we watch my generation of millennials flock towards urban life. So I have found a good home here as the conversation about food sustainability is alive and abundant at Cedar Circle Farm, which I have observed is a small model for a sustainable food system.

Cedar Circle revolves around a unique foundation steeped in education that offers food prosperity to farm hands, local students, and customers alike. Our leadership is dedicated to teaching, and the farm’s structure touches each node of the food system, inherently teaching us, team members and visitors alike, about the steps in which food travels from the soil to our table.

Much of Cedar Circle’s acreage is in production, providing a variety of produce to fulfill taste buds for all seasons. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of food we harvest. Al and his processing team trim, wash, and store the food the crew pulls from the field. Anna and her team make magic in the farm stand, while Lyle hauls a bounty to local markets to liaise with local eaters about the ingredients in their cook pots.

Food, however, is only valuable if people know what to do with it, which makes cooking the most potent piece of our food system. Therefore, the kitchen is the piece of Cedar Circle I find most special. Not so much for the deliciousness that exits its creaky, screened door, but for the way a farm kitchen is rare in how it acts as a womb for eating and food celebration. Alison and her team bring all sorts of dreamy-food-goodness to life in an array of baked yummies and fresh offerings we find in the farm stand and the Hello Café, where food lovers celebrate life over our food, laughter, and love — all things we find in any great relationship, summer barbecue, or town festival. But I am most delighted to know Alison will be offering cooking seminars in our kitchen this summer and into the fall. Through sharing their craft, cooks cultivate healthier lives, lasting relationships, and new avenues of stove top adventure, which has the power to uplift a population.

Finally, farm leftovers are wastes in the form of food scraps, abandoned fruits, and rotting insect munchies — all of which are composted and returned to the land when Nic and Luke prepare soil for new plantings. And so, the food system closes its loop right here in one location.

An organic food label does not make food a product of sustainability. Sound systemic practices make organic food sustainable, and Cedar Circle Farm is a shining example of food sustainability. This farm is a testament to Will and Kate’s global vision for a sustainable food future. It’s also a testament to thoughtfulness — a notion I interpreted when Will told me during a recent pickup truck ride to lunch that he didn’t see any option for the world but to adopt a local agricultural framework to maintain the natural resources for future generations’ food sources — an idea, to me, that is a lot like offering someone a hug.

-Kyle Barrett

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