WHAT’S YOUR ‘LOCAL’?
Jack and Anne Lazor with Anne’s faithful
companion and herder dog Rosie
(Photo by Shawn Henry)
hen we bought our farm here on the Canadian border back in 1976, we were a couple of young homesteaders who wanted to grow all of our own food for ourselves and our livestock. We grew our first crop of wheat for bread flour in 1977 and were astonished that our local food coop was more interested in sourcing Whitmer wheat from Montana than flour produced in its back yard.
However, this notion that food from away was better (and cheaper) wasn’t too upsetting. We persisted in our quest over the years, learning how to make dairy products on our wood cook stove and save our own cereal grain seeds. We started delivering yogurt, cottage cheese, butter and raw milk to our neighbors in 1979. We were very pleasantly surprised that our community (especially older farm families) was more than willing to buy what we had to offer. As a matter of fact, our old time native Vermonter neighbors were our best customers.
This initial good reception and our early success reaffirmed our will to become producers of local food for local people long before it was fashionable. We received a milk handler’s license in 1984 from the Vermont Department of Agriculture, which allowed us to legally put our dairy products on store shelves.
Over the past 35 years we have witnessed a steady progression towards a truly local food economy. Farmers markets have proliferated along with a steady increase of vegetable producers, and dairy farms that have begun to process their own milk into delicious cheeses and other products. The intensity of this movement of farmers and eaters has increased in the past five years to the point where I can say that we live in paradise here in Vermont.
People want to eat the corn meal, oat groats, spelt and wheat flour and the flax oil that we process here at our farm. There is also a ready market for the kefir and buttermilk that we now produce in our small dairy plant. We are quite happy to be more self-sufficient than ever and there seems to be a ready market for whatever we can produce.
The true beauty of the local food movement that has flourished in our state lies in the fact that opportunities exist for everyone who wants to grow and market good food. Another generation of young farmers is going back to the land to nourish themselves and their fellow citizens. Beginning farmers needn’t worry about markets as much as we did all those years ago. The will to eat locally and pay a fair price for food is there even the most rural remote parts of the state, like the Northeast Kingdom where we live.
So, let’s put our collective creativity together as eaters and farmers, enjoy this new reality and continue to make it happen. I am so overjoyed our society has embraced eating close to home.
421 Trumpass Rd.