Virginia Home Grown: Food & Community at Farfields Farm

Virginia Home Grown: Food & Community at Farfields Farm


>>This is a very unique garden that we’re in right
here at Farfields, I see a mix of some
native, some old growth, more formal plantings. Some medicinals. What is the purpose
of this garden here?>>Yeah, these gardens are
a really beautiful blend of where the farm came
from and where it’s going. So some of these beds are
more formal estate gardening, and then the ones
we have behind us are more of like an edible
medicinal forest garden. And we blended them both
including some native, especially in secondary plants, as well as weaving the
medicinals in to kind of bring the farm up to speed
with what the goal is now.>>Right, right. So how else do you use the
land here at Farfields? Ecological stewardship is one
of your primary goals, right?>>Yeah. Farfields farm is a regenerative
agriculture endeavor. And our main goals are
to build soil community and support a culture that
connects us to the land. And so we focus mostly on
pasture raised organic hens. We also raise pasture
and grass fed beef, as well as apothecary
and gardens. We do organic vegetables,
some lager, and mushrooms, and we specialize in native
phenotypic plant nursery. So those are some of
the physical products
that we provide, but we also create a
space for artistic, educational and cultural events so that folks can
really get connected with what we’re doing
here and be a part of it. ‘Cause that’s really
critical to regenerating land and community, they’re
one in the same.>>Absolutely. And it really seems that you
get people to come out here and all those creative touches
are very, very evident. So why do you think
that a space like this is so conducive to learn a
diversified set of skills?>>Yeah, well, I think
people are really hungry for nature connection, as
well as for really good food and ways to grow it in which
we’ll actually build soil for future generations. That gets people excited, and they want to be able to
apply that to their own lives. And we wouldn’t be able to
make the impact that we have without really
special partnerships, such as the one we
have with Lilia Fuquen. We were really blessed
to have her come here and bring the
events to Farfields and the folks that
live within this area.>>Well, thank you so much
for this little garden tour, why don’t we finish our stroll
and then hike up the hill to the Nautilus building
and talk with Lilia and now?>>Okay, great.
>>All right.>>Well, Lilia, I
thank you so much for bringing us up to
this beautiful Vista. So you’re looking at
a whole watershed, you’re looking at a
diversified use of land. What is the work that
you do to bring the land and people and food together?>>I work with a project called the Food and Community project. It’s an initiative with the
Virginia Humanities program. And we have the luxury
of being able to breathe life into
this little initiative that works with communities
throughout the state to celebrate all the
different food ways, all the customs, rituals,
traditions, song, stories, everything that surrounds
our relationship with food. And we also try to bring
communities together around food and the stories. It’s a really amazing
job to do here in this incredible state.>>Well the work you
do is so impressive. And what I love about
it is that as you said, it fills in those gaps of
storytelling of humanity, of bringing people together. The way that I found you was hearing about the
Indigenous Foodways project. And I’d love if you could share
a bit about what that was. Actually so that was,
that’s why we’re here. They were the hosts of this
incredible series of workshops that we held. And we brought together
a number of chefs and other foodways practitioners
from a number of tribes. We converged here
and invited people from all throughout
the community. And it was for 200 people. And these two days of workshops were to gather all the
material and cook it together. And we did mostly
outdoor fire cooking that was led by the
chefs themselves.>>So what foods did you
include in that event?>>Let’s see. We have we made
hickory nut milk, which is incredibly
labor intensive.>>Yes.
(laughing)>>But well worth it.
>>Done that before.>>An incredible salad
with all sorts of greens with doc and dandelion
and all sorts of things that we found in the fields. Hawthorn berry jelly,
wild caught rockfish, it was a huge spread of food.>>That sounds
incredibly delicious. Well Lilia, identity has
been such an integral part of the work that you do,
and there’s one island off the coast of Virginia
that some may know of, some may not, Tangier Island. What’s the work that
you’ve done there?>>So Tangier Island
is right smack dab in the middle of
the Chesapeake Bay. And the work that I have
done there specifically is to document and preserve
some of their life ways which are directly
related to food. So the Watermen do
a lot of crabbing, they’re famous for their
soft shell blue crab, oysters and eels. The island is sinking, it’s
becoming submerged in water, so that is an example
of a Virginia foodway that will be if not
lost, completely changed, as everybody who
lives on the island needs to relocate
to the mainland.>>Right. Well, a lot of the way that
you present your your work is through storytelling,
and it seems that that’s just a natural way
that people connect over food. So I’d love to hear a little
bit more about something that you have going on called
Courageous Conversations.>>Yes. So Courageous Conversations
is a protocol, it’s a program that
was established I believe in North Carolina, but we have been partnering
with folks in Floyd, Virginia. We offer a small grant to a
family that has been nominated within the community to prepare
their family signature dish or some legendary dish that
has great meaning for them. And then we asked them
to be the honored guests who stand up and tell the
story of this particular food, this legendary dish. And in that way we
honor that family, their ancestral foodway, and they share that with people
that they normally wouldn’t, and it creates these new bonds, these new areas
of common ground.>>But community involves
the youth as well. And so what kind
of work can be done with the youth
through your program?>>A number of things. So, many of the
workshops that we do, we have them be family friendly. But there was one that we did with a school in
southwestern Virginia, they had a capstone project where they were taking the
students on a multi day walk through the mountains, and they were going to
be ending up in Roanoke. And throughout this entire walk, they were going to be
learning the ecological story, the cultural history,
the political history. What Food and Community did
was we teamed up with them. And at the very end,
their last night, we partnered with a woman
who is a storyteller and Creole chef, and she
cooked over the fire. And as they emerged
from the woods, she was standing there singing
these incredible songs, welcoming them. So this was a tying together
of all of these cultures that have touched
those mountains. And the students got to be a
part of it and inspired by it and see a different part than
they had during their walk.>>Well, Lilia, it’s just amazing the span
of things that you’re doing, and it’s really no
surprise in the folds of these Blue Ridge Mountains that there are so many
pocketed communities that are diverse, but
you’re on this sort of foray and mission
to tease them out and to share them to build
those bridges and connection. So thank you for all
that you’re doing, and thanks for bringing
us out here today.>>Thank you.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *