It’s early on a Saturday morning, and you’re on a mission. You’re intent on making your grandmother’s casserole out of locally grown ingredients. You head to the farmers market where you find everything you need—almost. It turns out, no one in your community grows the fresh herbs you need—and why not? They’re delicious, beautiful and easy to grow even in a novel climate.
If you live in St. Louis you’re in luck. That Slow Food chapter is bolstering community agriculture by giving out small grants to aspiring farmers, especially to individuals interested in growing heirloom varieties of produce, heritage breeds of animals, or both. They only ask that participants have clear goals, introduce a product that is new to the St. Louis market and do it all using sustainable practices.
Whether you’re an heirloom expert or a novice, an experienced farmer or a first-timer, Slow Food St. Louis considers all applicants in an effort to involve the community on a level deeper than just the weekly trip to the farmers market.
Maybe it’s not herbs or vegetables you need to prepare the dishes you grew up cooking and sharing. Maybe you need pork belly or a whole chicken or hand-cut steaks. The Portland Meat Collective (PMC), led by Terra Madre delegate Camas Davis, aims to “create an artisanal economy around humanely raised and slaughtered meat, and to create transparency so consumers know more about where their food comes from and how it’s raised.”
The PMC employs a two-pronged approach to achieving this goal. First: educate the consumer on how to buy live, whole animals from small, sustainable farms. Second, show them how to butcher the animals themselves through a variety of classes involving animals from roosters to lamb. According to Davis, members will “get to decide how they want their animal carved up. They’ll wield knives and bags of curing salts. And they’ll learn what to do with all those specialty cuts once they’re at home in the kitchen. PMC brings a dynamic, local, sustainable approach to buying and eating meat straight to the people.”
These organizations are giving the power to individuals in their communities to make decisions not only about the food they put on their tables, but also the food their community puts on their tables.
Turkeys aren’t attention-getting hogs. They make an appearance at holidays, when the wow factor of a sizable golden skinned bird is most appreciated, then they take a back seat, inconspicuously appearing on our deli sandwiches and the occasional breakfast sausage.
But there’s a group of people who think turkey all year, and not just any turkey: heritage turkey. The folks at Slow Food Russian River [LINK] noticed a problem: no heritage turkeys, no farmers to raise them, but plenty of people who wanted to buy them. After some serious brain storming, SF Russian River allied themselves with local 4-H and Future Farmers of American (FFA) programs to create the Heritage Turkey Project. Each year, around 200 turkeys are raised by between ten and twelve 4-H members, and the numbers are growing. Now people who want to taste a regional bird and support their local economy have that option, and young farmers have a way to create a niche for themselves by raising a high-demand bird.
The success of the Russian River project is inspiring other chapters, like Slow Food Urban San Diego, to look into projects of their own.