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BLOG: Real Food for Harford County

Bringing farmers and consumers together in hopes of fostering a new relationship in our community in which fresh, unprocessed, local food becomes the norm and not the exception.

The goal has always been simple and well defined from the start.

We set out a couple of years ago to heal our land, make it profitable and produce food that was of a standard unseen by many in Harford County. Along with the simplicity of the plan is the simplicity of the production model and operational concept.

By fundamentally understanding the land, the animals and their interaction with one another, we set out to mimic these natural interactions in our production model while keeping sustainability a priority. That meant a few key aspects would define our farm and set us apart from many food production models in this country today. Simply put, the herbivores would be allowed to be herbivores and the omnivores would be allowed to be omnivores.

This means that our cattle would eat nothing but grass, never any grain other than the seeds that they find from the grasses in the field. Furthermore, the chickens would be kept outside to follow the cattle just as the birds followed the migrating bison years ago across the plains.

By understanding and successfully implementing these simple concepts, one is able to produce, and make available to the community, the best tasting, safest and highest quality eggs, poultry and beef. Now, that’s not to say that the job is done, this could not be further from the truth. Everyday we must continue to educate ourselves on the model that we follow and constantly reassess the validity, sustainability, shortcomings, and successes of it all. 

I am by no means an expert in the field of creating and promoting a permaculture on the farm with the biodiversity, sustainability, functionality and profitability that we are aiming for. What I intend to do, is to share our experiences along the way as well as relay any and all knowledge and information that I have collected on these topics. It is also our intention to provide outlets and connections to bring farmers and consumers together in hopes of fostering a new relationship in our community in which fresh, unprocessed, local food straight from the farmer becomes the norm and not the exception.  

I want to encourage everyone who reads to get involved. Tell everyone where you go to get your local food, provide insights on your local food experiences, ask any questions you have about the local food concept in Harford County, and the list of possibilities goes on. So speak up, we want to hear from everyone!

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This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

RW Willy February 20, 2012 at 04:27 PM
I agree with all the things you said. The "Field to Fork" movement is getting mainstream and practical. There are several CSAs in Harford, all are doing great things. Flying Plow Farms on Old Joppa rd even has a "Work" program available. Fresh food alternatives to the big box store. Just curious about the statement "eat nothing but grass, never any grain". What is wrong with feeding grains? Cattle finished on grains shouldn't be considered a bad thing?
Been there, done with that February 20, 2012 at 07:35 PM
I am pleased to see your efforts in the "field to fork" movement, as well. I was extremely disappointed to learn that a local "beloved source" of very tasty corn has been selling GMO "round-up" ready corn. When I questioned the farmer, his response was, "Well, I guess a little every now and again isn't going to hurt anybody." I was crushed...I thought this person was a "neighbor" with more than a "money-only goal" at the center of his farming endeavors. I will most definitely be searching for some good old "heirloom vegetable" sources in addition to visiting your "land healing" beef and chicken farm. We, the people need to let our voices be heard (as those of the citizens have been heard throughout the European Union where entire GMO crops have been outlawed and destroyed) and stop putting up with Monsanto's never ending assaults on one of the most intimate aspects of our lives: our families' dinner tables. I also urge those folks who will be utilizing the CFA's to urge their farms to avoid using the noxious GMO seed sources, too. I would much rather cut out an "ugly spot" or dig out a bug or two than feed my family Round-Up weed killer. Bravo, Nick Baily, keep up the good work!
Karl Schuub February 20, 2012 at 07:49 PM
We want local produce and local farms then we better do a much better job at land preservation and supporting local farms - CSA's are a fabulous way to pay the farmers directly and remove some of the risk they take whenever they plant a crop. Nice read - keep up the good work.
Stephany Davis February 20, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Excellent article!
Nick Bailey February 21, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Hey "been there, done with that", I am sorry to hear about your unfavorable experience with a local food producer, there are several Harford County farmers who are aware of the need to GMO-free products and have made the commitment. As we move forward I hope to build up a solid list of options for those in Harford County who are interested in GMO-free local food from responsible producers. We look forward to having you out to the farm!
Nick Bailey February 21, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Could not agree more Karl, are you a member of a CSA?
Karl Schuub February 21, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Yes, formerly Brads CSA...but it's a bit far to travel. I'm trying Harman Farms this year.
Nick Bailey February 21, 2012 at 04:23 PM
That's interesting Karl, what is your threshold on distance or time to get your food? It would be interesting as to how your answer compared to others in the community and certainly something for farmers to consider.
Nick Bailey February 21, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Thanks Stephany! What topics should we get into next?
Karl Schuub February 21, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Personally I work in Baltimore; and with pickup times being during the week and before 5:30 it always means I'm last to pick up my basket and that's after it's been sitting in the heat all day. If I were coming from home maybe 10 minutes max would be nice. I know there are some CSA's that have managed to find a core of members in one location such as a hospital, etc. and then actually deliver the baskets...I'm not so lucky with the long commute and all. No matter, I do the CSA not only because I like the fresh vegetables but also because it's supports local farms. It's a 2fr. One idea I guess would be to allow certain CSA's to pick up their baskets at the Farmer's Market in Belair on Saturdays - that's of course if the farm they're signed up with has a stand there.
Nick Bailey February 21, 2012 at 05:20 PM
That's great insight for farmers to have from the customer prospective. Thanks for the comments and ideas Karl, keep'em coming!
Barbara Wagner February 21, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Great article! We get our food from a CSA (Flying Plow Farm), and travel there once weekly in season to pick up. I am a Registered Dietitian by trade & would love to open a "sustainable whole food" oriented business in the future. For now, I would love to see a CSA drop off location in Havre de Grace, and would offer our business location (BAHOUKAS Antique Mall & Beer MuZeum) as a pick-up spot. Anyone interested (farm or family)?
Eric bel air February 21, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Sounds good, I try to buy from the Bel Air Farmer's market as much as I can but the hours are short and it's out of season now :( Much prefer the locally grown stuff than the stuff trucked in from Mexico lol
Nick Bailey February 21, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Barbara, this sounds like a great way to connect local businesses with farmers and the community, certainly a mutually beneficial partnership from many angles. It is great to hear that you support Flying Plow!
Nick Bailey February 21, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Thanks for your comments and questions RW Willy. The simple answer to your question about the problem with feeding cattle grain is that they are multi stomached herbavors and therefore not designed to consume grain. I look forward to digging deeper into this topic in future posts.
Nick Bailey February 21, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Thanks for supporting local food, Eric. I know that several of the vendors at the farmer's market have on-farm sales and those hours may be more convenient for you. Although you may need to drive out to their farm, take the opportunity to examine their operation and ask questions. You are correct in saying that we are currently out of season, as you know, real food is seasonal!
cavernícola February 21, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Nick, I'm so happy to have discovered you and Grand View! As crazy as it sounds, I about wept with joy when I read your blog and your philosophy on farming, community, and land preservation and sustainability. I love that you are following a model similar to Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm which I'm familiar with. I take great pride in knowing I'm feeding my family the most nutrient dense foods and even happier when I can get it locally. I'll be visiting you soon! And for RW Willy… http://www.bulletproofexec.com/the-health-benefits-of-grass-fed-meat-part-2/
Nick Bailey February 21, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Thanks for the support cavernicola, we certainly look forward to having you out to the farm. The overall goal here is for there to be several farms in the area like ours, after all Grand View can not feed everyone! We want to encourage the community to support all local producers whom they deem deserving of their business. Thanks for the link, I was not previously aware of that particular resource.
cavernícola February 22, 2012 at 01:08 AM
You're welcome for the link! Learning about and understanding what foods are optimal for me and my family is my hobby, so to speak. You need links, I've got links! Looking forward to coming out to the farm. Love the idea of more farms in the area like Grand View, makes my heart flutter! And looking forward to more blogs with info about other local resources. Thank you Nick.
RW Willy February 22, 2012 at 02:44 AM
thanks for the answers and info links. Always heard about corn fed beef. I imagine pasture is cheaper but slower? Thats why the feed lots for the last several weeks? Anyway, all info is good. Keep up the good work and the interest will grow. Polyface is a good example of the way farms will need to compete in the future. The masssive farms in the midwest will be factory owned and they will feed the world. But for now I need to think locally. Thanks again.
Nick Bailey February 22, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Thanks for your insight RW Willy, I look forward to comparing conventional beef production with the pasture-based model that we practice. One of the major issues with those factory farms in the mid west that you are referring to, besides the fact that they are feeding herbivores non-plant based products, is the inefficiencies of the system at every level. It is not necessarily "cheaper" to finish cattle on pasture, it is the fact that often times with pasture-based products the consumer is seeing the true cost of the food. The issue of "true cost" when applied to the conventional vs. pasture-based models is quite interesting and something that we will discuss.
Nick Bailey February 22, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Ha, that's great! I would like to get a pretty solid, user friendly list together of local outlets for the community to use. I will certainly be in touch with you for links and other information. Thanks for your support, cavernicola.
MKZ February 22, 2012 at 05:40 PM
I agree with Karl! We did CSA for the first time last year and it was great, the only downside is the pick up. We commute from Baltimore as well and it's definitely tough getting to the farm in time to pick everything up, not to mention you're the last one to pick from the basket. I would LOVE it if CSAs could be picked at the Saturday market!!
Nick Bailey February 22, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Thanks for your perspective MKZ. This sounds like a popular option for farmers to consider. Talk to your CSA organizer and pitch the idea!
Karl Schuub February 22, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Not to mention...if you had a handful or more people added to the crowds at the Saturday market; that basket could turn into fresh eggs from another vendor, or flowers, or even though I know I shouldn't a home baked peach pie!!
Kevin W. Johnson March 08, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Great Article.

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