“I’m a superhero farmer, and I’m here to save the day,” says my son, jumping from the couch.
He’s wearing a straw hat. A blue cape is wrapped around his shoulders. He runs into the kitchen where I’m washing dishes, and I ask him what he’s saving.
“I’m protecting the animals on my farm,” he says and runs out.
His dad leans over and tells me that they had the talk tonight. The meat talk. Although we’ve talked about it before, something finally clicked for him that the chicken we buy at the grocery store is the same chicken we cuddle at the farm.
“That’s mean,” my son had told my husband.
“Well, it can be,” he replied, going into a little detail about factory farming versus alternative farming.
Although my son doesn’t need to know all the gory details, I’m glad he asked.
I want my son to understand where food comes from and the role of farmers and ranchers in our society. My first introduction to agriculture was in my grandparents’ gardens. Both my mom’s dad and my dad’s dad had huge “hobby” gardens.
The memory of my grandpa in his overalls and straw hat, bent over his strawberries, is so vivid that whenever we go to a u-pick patch, I feel as if Grandpa is still there telling me exactly which strawberries are right for the picking, which ones need more time, and which ones are too far gone and can go to the cows.
I have many childhood memories like this. Maybe you can relate. Memories of bountiful garden harvests. Shucking corn in the yard. Picking salad straight from the garden for dinner. I was never too keen to be in the kitchen, but growing up, I remember the kitchen assembly lines even Ford would be proud of for preserving our farm-to-table food: freezing corn, canning beets, making applesauce.
I also remember my grandparents, who must have been in their eighties at the time, processing meat on the kitchen table.
Yes, I want my kids to know where our food comes from.
We are so fortunate in the Lowcountry to have farmers markets year-round, plentiful u-pick fields, and restaurants that prioritize the use of local produce. You can truly get to know the people and places behind the food you buy and eat.
There’s also places like Katie’s Krops, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating young people about gardening, enabling them to make a difference in their communities. Katie’s Krops boasts a hundred gardens across the country, but it all started with one garden in the Charleston area! The recipe was simple: a nine-year-old, a cabbage seed, and the realization that her cabbage could feed many at the local soup kitchen. Now, several years later, Katie’s organization continues to encourage kids to start gardens and help those in need. Check out her story here.
Another local organization whose mission I love is Fresh Future Farm. It is a self-described urban farm and grocery store, but it’s so much more than just that. It’s a garden educator, community promoter, and just plain inspirational. They are situated in a residential area of North Charleston, where from just a street over, you would never guess a green oasis like FFF awaited.
These are just a few of the local, real-life agricultural heroes that my son can look up to.
October 12 is National Farmers Day.
Out of all the wacky holidays, this one is truly one to celebrate. So join me in strolling through one of Charleston’s many farmers’ markets this week and thanking the hard-working men and women who tend the flocks, herds, and produce of the area. Although they have to battle bugs, heat, and weeds (depending on the day), we have some wonderful farmer heros in the Charleston area!