Happy World Food Day, Katy Lee here. While I can’t consider myself to be a complete locavore, (a person interested in eating food that is produced exclusively local and not moved long distances to market) the idea of sinking my choppers into a tomato that went from the vine to my plate in less than twenty minutes is quite, mouthwateringly alluring.
This fall, I had a chance to stroll the grounds of The Golden Lamb Buttery, one of my favorite farm-to-table establishments in the rolling pastures of eastern Connecticut. I passed countless rows of blooming bounty – fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs that would be harvested for the meals served right there on the property that evening. It can take weeks though to get a reservation – and for good reason.
The meals are delicious. As fresh as fresh can be. And totally worthwhile. Talk about your succulent tomato… The gardens at the Golden Lamb produce multiple varieties for the chef to choose from. From the long, green sausage tomatoes to the colorful, cultivated heirlooms. For anything to be considered an heirloom, you know, it possesses a precious value. And that’s especially true when one knows precisely where something came from. I can see the vines right from my table!
These tomatoes are what got me thinking about how this food-to-table phenomenon and the growing popularity of farmers’ markets has swept across communities throughout the nation. People want something fresh. They want to know where their food comes from. They want variety. They like having local choices of what they feed their bodies. The whole organic movement has proven that. But organic is not just about food anymore. It is also becoming a new standard for how we do business. I think this may be especailly true for writers.
Let’s take the not-so-simple-farmer. He or she is now a Farmer-turned-MBA grad-turned-web pro, demonstrating his role as producer and also as a keen marketer. Gone are the days when Farmer would simply harvest and ship his goods to some far away market. Now, Farmer and family stock their own retail outlet, or dairy bar, or farm-to-table eatery, with the freshest and latest product. A product he knows everything about, because he made it. He’s not the distributer or wholesaler- someone with no ties that bind. He’s the creator and these are his precious heirlooms.
Farmer also realizes that even though his product is special, people won’t know that unless he goes out to meet them where they are, to personally show them the value of his product. And as he is doing this, he is building personal customer relationships. The customer feels good about purchasing this very unique product, and because they know Farmer and where their food product comes from, they look forward to returning for more–even when that means waiting until the next growing season.
As writers we can learn a lot from the local farmer. We, too, have a product that offers variety and choices. So many choices, in fact, readers may not find us among the masses unless we are willing to go out into the new markets, to meet readers and show them they are valued customers and we have something special for them.
Now, I know there aren’t too many local book markets out there to pull our cars up to on a Saturday morning, but there are plenty of places to discuss our works and showcase our skills. Writers can build relationships through blogs and social media on the web, through the myriad of indie-publishing options, and genre-based interest groups. Professionally we can be offering our skills by leading and teaching workshops, visits to local schools and libraries, or good ole fashioned county fairs. We can also earn readers by writing articles for local newspapers or websites, or regional magazines and newsletters.
The Unlocked Secret: However we choose to reach out, we must remember to make the experience worthwhile for the customer. I am always anxiously awaiting my next reservation at The Golden Lamb Buttery because I know when I get there I will be welcomed back like family. And at the end of a satisfying, expertly prepared meal, I’ll get to treat myself to their freshly-picked-berry cheesecake and feel oh, so good about the entire experience.
Question: What do you flock to your local farmers’ markets for? What seasonal item gets your taste buds watering? Or what’s your favorite farm-to-table eatery? Tell us about it…