Some of you might know that I (Kristina) did not grow up at Sunny Cove or even on a farm in general. I actually grew up in Buffalo as a city girl who spent every spare moment I could reading books or being outside. On a whim and a prayer I came down to Alfred State to study agriculture (some might call it an act of rebellion). At that time I had no idea what the term organic meant or the importance of regenerative farming. With regards to sustainability, food preservation was actually one of the first old fashioned skills that I learned. As a college freshmen and avid foodie, I quickly realized in the country grocery stores are spread out miles and miles apart. I know a few folks that drive 45 minutes to get to the closest grocery store and the nearest shopping mall (this was back when amazon only sold books!) was over an hour drive. As a result most county folk shop and prepare differently than us in the city. It is quite normal down here to buy in bulk, have robust cupboards and in the summer most country homes have large gardens. July, August and September are busy months for homemakers as the can, dehydrate and freeze all the fresh bounty their gardens and the local farmers markets have to offer. You might be reading this and think wow that’s a lot of work for food. I agree however I began to realize something. This fresh food tastes so much better than what you could find at the grocery store even after it has been preserved! The first time I tried real pickles my taste buds had a party. Then I moved on to real juicy tomatoes and I almost fainted from the flavor sensation. I remember the first time I canned my own spaghetti sauce using cherry tomatoes and how naturally sweet and full bodied the flavor was. I dove in head first to food preservation and haven’t looked back since. Storing food has become a natural part of my routine now. Sure it took some time and studying in the beginning to learn technique and safety side but now it is just second nature. I tell you all this to get to my point.
When the pandemic hit in 2020 America was taken by surprise. Stores shut down and then when they reopened the shelves were bare. A lot of you may have found our farm via a google search during this time. We began to offer front door delivery and every time we would drive to the city for our farm deliveries I noticed something. Customers were panicking, some had never even cooked their own food before and with all restaurants closed they had no idea what to do with the frozen pounds of ground beef I was delivering. Most cupboards and stores ran out very quickly. Fortunately this was just a temporary glimpse at how unstable our food system is but it got me thinking. How did we get here? How did America get to the point of growing tomatoes in California, picking them green, artificially ripening them in a truck that is driving thousands of miles to deliver to a grocery store in New York where we can also grow our own tomatoes in our backyard. How did we get so far away from traditional skills, simpler lifestyles and food security?
The time to prepare is now. I am sensing a shift in this great American food system that has been on a teeter totter for over a hundred years. I do not say this to put fear or anxiety in to your life but just the opposite. Be empowered! If I the city girl who came to school knowing nothing about food could learn to prepare and store enough now to feed multiple families, so can you. Take this month to try and learn just one recipe or technique. Do not despise small beginnings. Know that even in a tiny fifth story apartment you can begin to learn and to do. My first garden was in pots on my parent’s porch steps. I clipped the herbs, tied them with a string and hung them upside down to dry for a few weeks. Preservation is the simple act of doing it.
If you made it this far thanks for reading. I want you to know that you are not alone in this. We have been and will continue to be here as a resource. I will also be starting to give classes again online and in person to teach and impart the skills necessary to save up a year’s worth of food for your family. Have questions? Please ask. This is a safe space for you to navigate these realities and learn.