"See what’s out there and what works for the farm, for us, and for the community."
~Lucy Garrison Co-Founder of Stick and Stone Farm
by Lesly Gissell Zhicay
This past week we had the opportunity to visit the Stick and Stone farm founded by Lucy Garrison and Chaw Chang. There we were able to learn more about the sustainable farming business that they have developed, one that provides a variety of locally grown vegetables to local communities whilst honoring and respecting the Earth. Most importantly, the Stick and Stone farm has found ways to develop mutually beneficial relationships to accomplish its mission of growing food for people.
An example of this is their community-supported agriculture program, the
Full Plate Farm Collective, which they founded alongside other local farmers. Community-supported agriculture programs have existed for over 25 years. They are a subscription-based program where members pay a fee upfront towards the share of future crops. This allows farmers
to have access to capital at the start of the season and be able to invest it into farming equipment, supplies, and labor, rather than waiting until after crops have been harvested to receive a potential return on their investment or having to take out a hefty loan which many may or may not be eligible for. In return, farms provide a variety of fresh and local produce each week to their members. This system also allows for flexibility, unlike traditional wholesale contracts that have strict guidelines on what and by when food needs to be produced, this framework allows them to focus on their specialty crops and provide their members with a variety of affordable locally produced vegetables. While this means that members don’t always know exactly what they will receive, it also allows members to be exposed to different vegetables and learn from one another about practices on how to cook different foods.
Community learning or learning from one another is another one of the reasons that make Stick and Stones so sustainable. Lucy shared with us that members of the collective often share recipes and ways to cook different foods. Even throughout our time on the farm, we were able to share with and learn from Lucy, Chaw, and the other members of our tour about the diverse ways we use vegetables such as radishes, cabbages, and my personal favorite tomatillos. Being exposed to foods that we may not be used to can be difficult but with the right level of community support, we can learn to lean into eating the foods that the land around us produces.
Being able to be close to the land that feeds us also means understanding the diverse ways in which food grows and its versatility. Did you know that brussels sprouts and cabbage come from the same plant? What makes them different is the distinct parts of themselves that are emphasized. Closing the gap between the food on our plates and where it is grown is crucial to developing a deeper connection and respect for the land we inhabit; it allows for mutually reinforcing relationships between ourselves and the planet. Stick and Stone farm is an example of how we can continue to build mutually beneficial relationships with one another and the Earth and not have to compromise our delicious foods.
Special thank you to Stick and Stone Farm for inviting us to their farm and for all their generosity.