Tag Archives: homegrown

Meet our farmers–the Edwards

edwards-pecans1

Ethan, Clark, Marie and their pecans

This week we welcomed a new farm to our store–Edwards Farm from St. Claire, Illinois which is also known as Shiloh Valley. Marie Edwards grew up on the farm. She, her husband Clark and their son Ethan, who recently returned home, run the farm. We are super excited to introduce their dried beans and peas. We don’t have them all out yet as we’re still obtaining jars for our newly arranged bulk section, but we do have the black-eyed peas, crowder peas, and shelled pecans available for purchase now. Soon you will find their lima beans, kidney beans, black beans, and an unnamed heirloom bean.

We were also so happy when they also showed up with beautiful sweet potatoes, acorn squash, and butternut squash. As you can guess, it’s hard to find local produce now so this was a special treat. Not as special though as this family. Seriously, they are such a warm, friendly, and genuine group that I want them to permanently hang out at our store and cafe and just visit with people.

Last night they came with a load of pecans for us. They were on their way to see their son Ethan play cello with the St. Louis Philharmonic Symphony. Seriously! I learned a lot in our short visit last night. Here are the highlights and they revolve around pecans. They brought two varieties of pecans–yes varieties of pecans. I think we all get used to thinking that there is one type of everything–carrots, bananas, nuts, tomatoes, etc, because that’s we’ve learned from large chain grocery stores.

Well, last night I was introduced to River Bottom Pecans and Grafton Pecans. We did a little taste test and I was so amazed at the difference. The River Bottom Pecan is a much smaller pecan with a hard shell. It has a very intense pecan flavor–and I mean that in the best way. I can imagine that a pie made with these would be unbelievable. The Grafton Pecan is larger and has a mild earthy flavor. Also delicious.

Marie told me that her grandfather planted the the River Bottom Pecan trees about 150 years ago. The Grafton Pecan trees are probably 90 years old. And I learned that when they were building the Mid-America Airport they passed an ordinance that said no building could be taller than the tallest River Bottom Pecan Tree on the Edwards Farm. I love that.

Meeting this family is another reminder to me about why buying local is so important and a reminder about how much I love the mission of our store and the people who make it possible.

Yours in local eating and sustainable farming,

Maddie

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Homegrown

ecopioneerLast night’s screening of the documentary Homegrown (part of the St. Louis International Film Festival) filled me with excitement, possibility, hope, and amazement. Homegrown tells the story of the Dervaes family and their urban homestead. They grow over 6500lbs of produce on a 1/5 of an acre at their home in Pasadena, CA.

The family also uses solar power, makes their own bio-diesel, has chickens for eggs, a couple of goats for compost and manure, uses their home as learning center for area schools, and sells their produce to local restaurants and catering businesses. One of the wonderful things about this family of four (dad and his three kids who are now adults) is that they constantly challenge themselves to see what is possible–how much more food can they grown, how can they be more self-sufficient, how can they best share their knowledge….the list goes on.

I was excited to think about my own backyard and what might be possible there. My friend and neighbor Anita went with me and we joked about busting out the fence that separates our yards so we could really do some damage! Several of the things they do were beyond my current comprehension–washing clothes by hand, manufacturing bio-diesel and even eschewing electric appliance like blenders, food processors and microwaves in favor of hand operated appliances. They are the real deal.

Check out their website www.pathtofreedom.com I’m dreaming of getting a copy of the video and having a viewing party at the cafe one night. Fun?

Lets hear it for real mavericks.

-Maddie

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