I was very fortunate to go on a few farm tours this summer. They were day trips organized by the culinary college. The farms were picturesque and inspiring. I learned alot. Not too long ago, the only tours I went on were shopping ones or visiting celebrity homes. Remember how I referred to farmers as rock stars? Now, I’m booking in advance and buying tickets to visit farms to talk to farmers and food artisans. Never would have imagined. Don’t worry, there is alot to buy on these farm tours.
Owning a farm sounds glamorous, if it were a hobby. The entrepreneurial side of me thinks of all the consumer products I can create and sell on the farm: produce and food products with rustic labels that I would design. There would be partnerships with restaurants and food boutiques. Truth is, real farming is hard 24/7 work and fiscally unpredictable. It is highly dependent on some variables – soil quality, weather and pests. Science and innovation have come a long way and there are solutions to minimize the risks and damage, although costly. Balcony farming is small scale farming which is much more manageable.
I went to a pig farm and learned how the pig’s diet and daily routine can affect the flavour and texture of the meat. Some are fed walnuts and some fed dairy products. Many restaurants are dealing direct with these farms to have access to select cuts. They actually reference the farm in the dish description on their menus, as if their patrons know the pig farm by name. I did. Glad I visited that farm.
There are many food artisans working on or with farms. They are small batch artisanal cheese makers, flour millers, maple syrup producers, bacon smokers and butter churners who are getting alot of attention.
Farm tours naturally include vineyards. It is agriculture! I don’t mind doing this research. Wineries are very capital intensive and take time to establish and perfect. The grapes are highly dependent upon weather which will determine yield and taste. Some of the grapes vines here are imported from France. This creates a unique taste.
I enjoyed visiting the farms and hope to sign up for many more soon. Gave me a lot of ideas for my balcony farm.