What Is a Local Farmer?

I’m starting out with a warning: This is my blog and therefore I am expressing my opinions.  You probably disagree with me, and that’s OK.  I believe in that American ideal that we are all entitled to our own opinions.  And, I would probably enjoy a discussion with you about those opinions, as long it is respectful and not personal.  We may disagree, but I still love everyone. 

I’m a Jersey girl.  My idea of a farming community is Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Lancaster County is in central Pennsylvania and is the heart of Amish country.  It is a mere 90-ish miles from the Jersey border.  There are many many farmers.  These farmers are Amish, Mennonites and others.  Lancaster County is abound with farmers markets, stores and roadside stands that feature produce, yummy cheeses, jams, pies and such other unique fare.  Granted that I knew they catered to the many tourists that come to gawk at the Amish, but in my Jersey mind that is what a farming community was.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Enter Laura the Jersey girl into Lincoln County… Lincoln County Colorado is also a farming community.  My first arrival here was after driving straight through from the Poconos, a 1600 mile trip.  I was coming out of one of the most frightening experiences that I have ever had in my whole life: driving through western Kansas in the middle of the night.  I had never seen anything so desolate.  I had never seen a place so open, so treeless, so… frightening.  And then, when I crossed the border into Colorado, which is merely the unastounding 37th Parallel, it felt like I had never left Kansas.  Another 100 miles or so found me in Hugo, Colorado: Wow!  Yeah, I thought, if I wanted to film a horror movie, Hugo would be ideal.  (Well, that was when I was an Eastern Colorado greenhorn.  I now know that there are a lot better places to film a horror movie in Eastern Colorado, like Genoa or the Genoa tower, or Ramah, or Boyero.  Hugo is actually a mecca compared to them. )

Well, you get the point: I was astounded by the farming community of Lincoln County compared to what I thought a farming community was in my mind.

So let’s talk about Lincoln County… Well, let me start out by saying that the people here are great.  I mean really wonderful.  Strangers have literally shown up here to fight fires.  I can count on my neighbors.  They’ll help me to round up my cows when they get out.  They’ll take care of my children in an emergency.  They’ll pick things up for me in Colorado Springs.  They support me, even though, well, I’m a little different.  I truly feel that the Lincoln County residents “got my back”.  So, then what, Laura, is the problem, you say?

My problem is that if I climbed to the top of my roof, I would see fields and fields and pastures and pastures.  I mean talk about local farms:  my locale is surrounded by farms.  So what’s the problem?  Let’s say that I wanted to buy a cow from my neighbor for beef.  Well, good and local, but the closest custom processor is forty miles away.  Let’s say that I go to that local not-very-super-supermarket in town and want to buy flour.  It comes from Pillsbury, and not that farmer-down-the-road’s wheat field. Let’s say that I wanted to buy some grain from the farmer.  Well, there are no longer any organic farms in Lincoln County.  Well how about corn?  Can we say GMO-yeah?

I support my local farmer, as in I support all of my neighbors.  I got their back in the same way that they got mine.  They are wonderful, great people.  But seriously, if I see one more Support Your Local Farmers urging, I may resort to violence (or at least scream).    You know, Local Farmer, I would love to support you.  But you don’t want my support.  You grow GMOs.  You sell cattle at the auction at least 80 miles away.  You sell your commodities to the grain elevator.  Some of your crop is patented, so it would be illegal for you to sell it to me since they make you sign a contract that you won’t.  You grow all the uninteresting things that the local grain elevator takes, even though perhaps other things might grow here also.

I guess what I am trying to say is that for me, my local farmers aren’t local.  Sure they are nearby.  Sure they are wonderful wonderful people.  But, they are not ‘local farmers’.  Thank you, Monsanto.  If you happen to be a local (as in nearby) farmer and I am wrong, please tell me.  I will do my best to support you.  I want to buy your chemical free crops.  I want to buy your non-GMOs.  If I am mistaken about you not wanting my support, please let me know.

My wonderful husband, who grew up out here, doesn’t even see the irony here.  Am I crazy to think it’s ironic to be surrounded by farms, yet not have anything local available to buy?  And even if I wanted to let’s-say-buy-a-cow from you, I must take said cow 40 miles to be processed.    Maybe my husband is right and there is no irony here.  Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Hugo, Colorado are nearly 1600 miles away from each other.  I should just get over it.

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