PHOTOGRAPHY BY LAUREN MCCLURE
What did you do this weekend? Anything cool? It’s the inevitable post-weekend question around the office coffee maker, and I love those Mondays when my answer doesn’t include “Ate too much junk food” or “My back hurts from sinking into the couch.”
But this week, my Saturday was far from ho-hum, thanks to the ingenuity of White Rock Local Market director Sarah Perry, who has created a volunteer opportunity called Love Your Farmer Day. The thought is to give participants a hands-on education about farming and some one-on-one interaction with members of the local agricultural community. In my book, that counts as cool.
The day began with an urban chicken-farming workshop led by Caroline Fruth of Fruth Farms Southwest at the First Unitarian Church of Dallas. After lots of talk about breeds of chickens, egg production and coop building, attendees left with a blueprint of how to begin raising chickens in their own backyards. Next up was a backyard beekeeping workshop with instruction provided by Bob Richie of The Custom Coop Company.
After lunch, we caravanned to Fruth Farms, located a few miles outside of Greenville near the little town of Cash. At the farm, we lent a hand doing typical farm chores, which on that day included vaccinating the baby goats. For those who don’t know (I didn’t), goats have lovely temperaments and are quite photogenic, such hams the way they pose for the camera and nuzzle your knees for attention. Fruth’s introduction to goats began in her childhood when she lived in Southeast Asia where beef was scarce but goats were in abundance. When she decided to start farming ten years ago, raising goats seemed like a natural choice. She lives on the 30-acre farm with her husband and three-year-old daughter, and she sells goats’ meat, chicken, beef and eggs at White Rock Local Market, as well as to members of her CSA. Though she benefits from an education in and understanding of modern farming practices, Fruth takes cues from a simpler time and approach, using methods that are sustainable and affordable.
A few neighboring farmers stopped by, including Mel Jones, owner of Farmer Jones Eco Friendly Plants and Produce, the site of the first Love Your Farmer Day in October. While assisting with the vaccinations, I chatted with Farmer Jones about the virtues and pitfalls of farming in North Texas. Once vaccinations were complete, we visited the cows, roosters (named after world rulers) and horses, escorted by Beardog and Marley, Fruth’s herding dogs. The day concluded with what Fruth called “walking the seed.” Together, we spread oat and rye seeds that will soon sprout into food for their animals. Two of the youngest volunteers, eight-year-old Sammy and six-year-old Teddy, also filled their carts with seeds and set out across the fields, marveling at the creatures and sounds that filled the landscape.
“Our hope is that this program will both educate the volunteer and benefit the farmer,” says Perry. She even sees room for large corporations to get involved by organizing groups of employees to donate their time. “This is a great way to see firsthand what it takes to bring food to our tables. This is the type of program that strengthens the bonds between farmers and the community.”
For more details about upcoming workshops and Love Your Farmer events, go to www.whiterocklocalmarket.com.
LAUREN MCCLURE loves food, as evidenced by her ever-expanding palate and waistline. In between meals, she has the great pleasure of being a freelance photographer and writer. She takes pictures of everything from blissful brides to Texas ghost towns, and blogs about her adventures at laurenmcclure.blogspot.com. In her leisure time she enjoys cooking brunch for dinner, perusing her vintage issues of Gourmet magazine and eating peanut butter by the spoonful.