Valerie Fox, Haulin’ Hoof Farm
Christine Huges at Della Zona
The Village Bakery
It’s been awhile since I’ve updated the blog— Susan’s now back in NYC and I’ve been home for the last week, saying hello to my family here in Boston. The road-trip is over!
On our way back East, we stopped in Susan’s old college town, Athens, OH, to say hello to some of her friends and do a few final interviews with female farmers around the area.
First, we met with Laura McManus of Sticky Pete’s Maple Syrup. Laura has an incredible life story: once a sea captain sailing through the warm waters in the Caribbean, Laura traded masts for maples and settled down in Ohio with her husband, John, to start tapping for the sweetest amber on earth. Only a few years after the operation got its feet off the ground, John became terminally ill with cancer. He passed away in 2002, leaving Laura with the farm to manage herself. While at first she thought there would be no way to continue on her own, her community jumped to help her keep going with the season. Here Laura is, nine years later, with a very successful maple farm and high demand for her product. She only sells her stuff locally, but her clout is nation-wide: Sticky Pete’s has been repeatedly recognized by tastemakers as some of the best syrup on the market.
After we met with Laura, we headed over to talk with Christine Hughes, who owns and operates The Village Bakery and next-door pizzeria Della Zona. Christine is dedicated to using as many local farmers and vendors as possible to stock the cafe and restaurant. In fact, she uses Sticky Pete’s Maple Syrup, along with products from all the other farms we visited in the area! She loves running a business that positively impacts the community—connecting local producers with eaters and dishing up delicious and nourishing food for everyone to enjoy.
In the afternoon, Susan and I visited Valerie Fox at Haulin’ Hoof Farm, where we learned all about shearing sheep, how to make indigo dye, and what it’s like raising two young girls up on a sheep farm. She and her husband use draft power horses, instead of tractors, to hay their fields. While it may mean more physical labor and maintenance, Valerie stressed the important interdependent relationship they have with their animals and how empowering it is not to be reliant on oil and machinery to get their work done.
We ended our day with Michelle Ajamian at Shagbark Seed and Mill, who starting milling locally grown grains after realizing there was a need for local staples in Ohio. She also acts as the Executive Director for regional group the Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative, which aims to promote community food security by supporting locally grown bean, grain, and oil seed production.
It goes without saying: our last day of interviews was fantastic. A great ending to a great trip!
The next step: start looking at the over forty hours of footage we’ve collected, follow up with some of the wonderful women we’ve met, and interview a few more NY-based folks we’d like to reach out to. The main trip may be over, but the real adventure is just beginning!
Farm Aid concert shots!