Has the Writing Industry joined the Farm-to-Table Revolution?

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…

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25 thoughts on “Has the Writing Industry joined the Farm-to-Table Revolution?”

  1. Katy, more than ever we enjoy farm fresh food. The imports have gotten us into cuisine calamity b/c other cultures have different standards. Their products very often are not fit for our consumption. How we writers and the farmers let folks know the wonders of what we have for them is similar, “Market or Die” as in Jen Fusco’s new book where she tells us how.

    Your images look delicious. Especially the fruit pie!

  2. Great analogy, Katy. I live not far from the Otis Farmer’s Market and love it when I go there and find these GIANT fresh tomatoes–you know the ones where one slice fits an entire sandwich? You can’t find good tomatoes in the grocery store anymore.

    I usually have a garden of my own and missed it this year since my husband is still in demolition mode in my back yard, but we did plant tomatoes, greenbeans and herbs on my porch in pots this summer and there is nothing like fresh greenbeans from the vine to the table, or fresh cut basil and rosemary for your favorite dishes.

  3. Katy, I am in complete agreement – my husband and I, too, prefer to be localvores; living in the same general region as you live in, there are plenty of opportunities for us to experience the farm-to-table route. The major difficulty I have is the price. Our wallet contents do not match our desire to support local farmers. When we travel out east, the farm stand prices are out of control. The local chefs who feature Long Island produce, do so with a premium price tag. Area food co-ops for organic foods charge almost $500 each season. We genuinely cannot afford it. There are plenty of others in their shiny Mercedes and Lexus SUVs who can, though, so the local farmers do okay :-) How fortunate we are, as writers, that our words don’t require a similarly exorbitant cost on the web! One way our author internet presence can add true value and help build relationships is provide content that entertains and informs and provides an oasis for readers to linger – not simply provide a place for us to hawk our latest book or announce a new contest or raffle giveaway of a title. Great post!

    1. I’m sorry it’s so expensive for you. My town’s market is pretty reasonable and they accept food stamps from some people. And for some reason if I don’t like the prices I can go to the next town over. Or the next afetr that. We have many to choose from.

  4. Not much around my neck of the woods is organic as well as local, which is a shame. So I pick organic over local; would love to do both and have suggested that to the farm in the next town, but so far, no-go.

    1. Yeah, the farmer has to be into it. We have farms that go out to the markets, but you can also go right to the farm and pick your veggies and fruits and herbs yourself.

  5. Katy, I love this post, and I’m going to have to look into reservations for the Golden Lamb Buttery. Sounds heavenly! We used to have a decent sized vegetable garden, which I loved, but the time commitment has proved too much for us the last few years, and my husband has concentrated on his quest for the giant pumpkin. We do frequent the local farm stands as much as possible though. I’m always inspired by how small farmers come up with creative ways to expand their revenue streams (the only way they could possibly stay in business, since growing vegetables or animals on a small scale is just not going to allow anyone to make a living) — attached restaurants, wineries, pumpkin farms with hayrides and cornmazes, sleigh rides, ice cream stands, mail order maple syrup . . . now I want pancakes!

  6. Hi Katy,
    When I lived in Calfornia, I would go to the farmers’ market all the time. The veggies were so fresh, they often still had soil attached. Nothing like it. I enjoy growing my own tomatoes in the summer because I love them warm, right off the vine. Yum. About writing, I agree with Gail – Jen Fusco’s Market or Die series. Get out and let people know what you do and what you have to offer. Nice post.

  7. Great job in tying #BAD11 back into your blog topic, Katy. One of my fave locavore establishments is the UCONN Dairy Bar for ice cream, all made from milk produced from the Ag Department’s dairy cows.

    1. I WAS JUST THERE YESTERDAY!!! And yes, I am yelling. ;) I love that place! My favorite is the Cherry Vanilla with chocolate sprinkles. YUM!

      But I will say I have a local in-town creamery I frequent too. I can’t forget Collins Creamery!

      1. Love both these places too! Go ahead and shout :) When I mentioned ice cream stands in my earlier comment, Collins Creamery is the place I was thinking about.

  8. We are so lucky to live in a region (and town) where they are so many farms still active. We love to go to Easy Pickin’s and Johnny Appleseed’s. I also grow my own herbs in big pots on my deck (buying the plants is my Mother’s day gift from my children every year). I’m always sad when winter comes and I can’t wait to plant new herbs in the spring. I think it’s so important to support local agriculture. It’s better for the environment, the ecomony and our waistlines! Thank you for such an awesome post, Katy!

    1. I love Easy Pickins! I’m heading there tomorrow…hopefully the asian pears will still be in season! They are GREAT!

  9. I love Farmer’s Markets but I having a conversation with somebody who is on foodstamps who told me that they would love to eat healty but fresh fruits and vegetables were too expensive for her, that it was more economical to feed her family off of fast food dollar menus that to shop healthy. It made me really sad to hear that. I’m glad some farmers markets are taking foodstamps I just wish more would.

    1. I thought more were taking the vouchers than not. She should look into it. It is so true, though, about the dollar menu seeming like the better deal, but really that stuff is not sustenance. It may look cheaper, but you’re paying more in the long run because your body needs more and you’ll have to feed it more.

      1. I know WIC does vouchers for the Farmer’s Markets but I have family on the SNAP program and they don’t have a similar system…

  10. most of what we get at our farmers market is fresh veggies…this time of year we go for the pumpkins as well…they make it a fun place for the kids as well…and even educating them on the importance of supporting local in fun ways…

    jumping over from BAD11

    1. Welcome Brian,
      Glad you jumped over. :) And this time of year is fun with all the harvesty things to do, but for my own sanity, I’m still staying out of the mazes.

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