By On the Road to FARMLANDIA | August 19, 2011 at 12:44 PM EDT | No Comments
Day 10: on the road to Chicago where Tom Arnold will bring his naturally-raised pork, chicken, and beef to a suburban farmers market in the city. It's a 3 hour round-trip (not counting Friday night traffic), so it will be a late night. Tomorrow, I head into Iowa where I'll meet up with Jude Becker, who raises the remarkable organic, acorn-chomping pigs that go into La Quercia prosciutto. I'm very excited to meet him and his gorgeous pigs (most of you know how I do love those pigs.)
Tom Arnold and his family have been so generous, hospitable, and encouraging.Tom has let me shadow him through his day-to-day work, from livestock chores (hogs, chickens, turkeys), to getting them to slaughter and processing, to marketing through email, and finally, delivering orders to individuals across the region as well as to the weekend markets in the city. He is a perfect example of a small scale food system that really delivers the goods to his very loyal customer base. It also demonstrates what it takes to do this which is a combination first, of passion for farming and deep knowledge of and connection to the land and to animal stewardship, then savvy marketing, business-sense, an entrepreneurial spirit and hard work, emphasis on the the hard work. It's not for slackers for sure; you have to have the muscle, energy, and the brains. He's got them all, and it looks to me it is what all of the farmers I've met so far have. The other pattern I've seen is a connection to the farm in their backgrounds. It's a vital connection to farming that is passed along the generations, and it shows up not only in these farmers, but in the small processors, the restauranteurs, and chefs. It seems to feed the passion in a way that "schooln' can't." More thoughts on this later.
As for myself, I had no idea what it would take to travel, shoot, manage media, and at the same time do blogs, Facebook, emails, and set up the logistics and appointments for the next visits. What Tom does on a daily basis, I'm just developing a rhythm for. Bear with me.