If you watched Good Morning America last Monday you might have noticed Keller’s very own Homestead Farms featured in their Extreme Parenting series. Okay, you probably didn’t notice. But they were there, the “local farm” sandwiched in the middle of a very disturbing story on unschooling.
I’m not insinuating guilt by association here. I’ve been a customer there (on and off) for years. I crave/adore/dream about their garlic chive goat cheese. In fact, the very act of typing that sentence produced an almost uncontrollable urge to go finish off the tub we bought for Katie today.
I’m okay now. Really I am.
Anyhoo, while checking their website for store hours to buy said goat cheese, I ran across their blog and was very intrigued. I’d never given much thought to the people behind the products, but Sarah got my attention:
Confessions of a Farmgirl
I grew up in a picture perfect house in a clean, concrete surrounded, Southlake neighborhood. My parents sent me to an expensive private college, outfitted in Nordstrom’s clothes, with the thought that my silly love for horses in high school would be the last they would see of a “farm” in my life. Neither they nor I would have ever guessed a few short years later, I would marry a farmer, live down a muddy gravel road, call a 50 year-old rodeo team meeting hall my home, permanently have goat poop on my jeans and revolve my social life around my “chores.” Sarah Farris ~ Confessions of a Farmgirl
Michael and Sarah Farris are not your average farmers. They’re young, educated and hip (at least I think so). At at time when the age of the average farmer is 57 and the average U.S. farm size is 449 acres, this couple is part of a unique trend in American farming.
There’s a “a movement in which young people — most of whom come from cities and suburbs — are taking up what may be the world’s oldest profession: organic farming.
“I’m seeing an enthusiastic group of young people all across the country who want to get into farming,” says Fred Kirschenmann, a longtime farmer and fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University in Ames.
. . . For these new farmers, going back to the land isn’t a rejection of conventional society, but an embrace of growing crops and raising animals for market as an honorable, important career choice — one that’s been waning since 1935, when the U.S. farms peaked at 6.8 million.
It’s about creating something real — the food people eat — and at the same time healing the Earth, says Severine von Tscharner Fleming, 27, a farmer in Nevis, N.Y. “The America that I want to live in will support people who are willing to work their asses off, who want to do good things for their community. We’re patriots of place. Here I am, I’m planting my trees.”
As you can tell by her “Confessions,” Sarah is from the suburbs. Michael, however, is a third generation farmer. The land they work was purchased my Michael’s grandfather in 1889. Together, they’re both the brains and the brawn behind one of the most well-managed farms I know about. On about 10 acres they are producing 100%, goat’s milk and cheese, organic eggs and produce.
I’ve gotta say, as Sarah showed me around I was really impressed with their methods. For example, organic eggs are easy to find around here, but unfortunately organic typically just means the chickens are fed organic soy and corn . . . a lot of soy and corn. At Homestead Farms, the Farris’ feed their chickens a much more ideal diet featuring green plants (scraps from the garden and weeds). Also, rather than keep them in a dirt floor pen, they use a composting system with fresh hay over the top. The rich soil beneath the pen attracts all the bugs chickens naturally eat. I know it’s gross, but that’s what makes their yolks that deep orange color.
But is it any good? Is it worth the drive? This is the point where I have to admit my ulterior motive in arranging a “walk around” at Homestead Farms. As my pregnancy progresses I am just not making as much milk as I used to. Although Katie still nurses, I feel it is time to start supplementing more dairy for her, so I bought some goat’s milk and cheese for her to try. You can see the taste test results for yourself below. She loved the garlic chive goat cheese! She almost ate a full container on the drive home and then begged for it for days.
The milk? Not so much. She continues to request “mommy’s milk” and “horse’s milk,” which is what she’s convinced we drink.
Stop by their country-style store and you’ll also find homemade jelly and pickles, local honey, Amish butter and more.
Oh, and they grow organic local produce (not certified but in practice), so don’t forget to ask what’s in season!