I am a Farmer I am not the Enemy

Friends Drift Inn Farm – Real Life

Appalachian Food Culture Cushaws, Greasy Grit Beans, and Heirloom Tomatoes

World Food Day and Blog Action Day
A Baby Boomer in Appalachia

I live on a creek in a barn in the mountains of Kentucky Appalachia. I grow my own vegetables because I believe conventional agriculture has let me down. Yes, me. I take it personal.

I hold down a full-time city job. Additionally, I write for a newspaper food column and maintain this farm-to-table themed blog. In January, I plan my garden. By April, we break ground. Throughout the sweltering Kentucky summer I plant, I hoe, I water, I harvest, I can, I freeze, I cook….and I photograph and write about my experiences. I work hard. I am a farmer.

I repeat….I am a farmer.

More than that, I am a tired farmer. In a perfect world, I could grow a couple of tomato plants, a lettuce bed, and a row of beans and call myself a hobby farmer leaving the heavy lifting to commercial producers. But it is not a perfect world.

I grow heirloom vegetables because I wish to preserve diversity, to perpetuate the good things about Appalachian culture like Greasy Grit Beans, Green Striped Cushaws, and Pike County Tomatoes. I want that legacy passed on to my family.

Harvesting Heirloom Beans grown on a pole tepee Greasy Grits

Somehow commercial agriculture forgot that food is supposed to taste good.

They forgot their responsibility to preserve genetic diversity so a tragedy like the Irish potato famine does not repeat itself.

It slips their minds we have placed our trust in them to provide a product we are not afraid to eat, and not afraid of what it will do to our children and our children’s children. The attitude is we produce cheap and you should appreciate what you can get.

I am not the Enemy

I know the faces of farmers, and I care deeply about them. My heart breaks when they post about loosing a calf. I grieve when a windstorm or flood destroys their crops. I feel my blood pressure go up when their farm machinery goes down. I am indignant with irresponsible journalists trespass endangering livestock health and safety.

When I look at the corn worms chomping my beautiful crop, I understand why pesticides and herbicides are relied upon to produce a profitable harvest. I may not like it, but I understand it.

I understand there is a responsibility to feed the masses. I also understand much of the land is not actually in food production, but in corn for bio-fuels, which will not feed the world.

Farming is a hard life, fraught with challenges brought on by nature, by economics, and by the politics of food. Commercial farmers, yes I see your faces….I feel your frustrations.

But somehow you do not see me.

Breaking Green Beans and all the Queen's Rules

Walk in my shoes as I shop the grocery store wondering if the corn meal is laced with some glow in the dark genetic materials inserted there by science gone mad. Put that store bought tomato to your lips and tell me if it will add flavor to my spaghetti sauce. Place your hand on that lovely cantaloupe, and then withdraw it quickly wondering if the pesticides will bring on yet another case of hives.

It should not be that way. But you do not see me, or if you do somehow I am the enemy. That makes me sad.

I am what I am. A very tired farmer and I blame you for that.

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Jake and the Beanstalk; Greasy Grits Heirloom Beans
Return of the Green-Striped Cushaw
Cilantro and Hot Pepper Jelly Recipe
Leather Britches and Drying Beans for Food Preservation
Heirloom Vegetables

About Joyce Pinson

Joyce Friend Pinson is a regional farm-to-table columnist for the Appalachian-News Express. She is a local television host. Her column show and blog, Friends Drift Inn, explores food, gardening, and real life farm-to-table stories from the perspective of a baby boomer in Appalachia. Joyce has a background in agriculture, media, and small business. Joyce is an heirloom gardening addict and home canner. She has a penchant for big hats, pointy toed shoes, and bourbon. Along with her husband Charlie, Joyce really does live in a barn where they ballroom dance. And laugh. And cook. And giggle.