Friday, May 4, 2012

Nourishing Our Community

By Gwendolyn Marie Roach

I married into a family where sharing good food together is the great delight of life. I set out to learn to cook when Graham and I got married in 2003. The learning curve was steep, and there were some tears over my earliest efforts, but I soon found myself loving being in the kitchen, and learning to create new flavors.  Over the course of time, cooking has grown to become my passion.

In 2009, I began learning quite a bit about how food has a direct and powerful affect on how the body operates.  Spurred on by health challenges, I started to change some of our patterns of food consumption, changing gradually from buying and eating all commercially-produced supermarket food to sourcing a larger and larger portion of our diet from local farmers producing whole foods naturally. I had already been learning a whole lot about cooking, and I started to learn more and more about cooking truly wholesome, scratch-made, traditional foods without processed ingredients.

On New Years Day, 2010, as we looked forward to a new decade, we found ourselves dreaming about a different direction in life. The dream that was born in us that day was to raise our family close to Graham’s relatives in North Carolina, and to become producers of good, clean, high quality food, as well as to share our passion for healthy living with the community around us.  We spent that year doing a whole lot of research on small-scale sustainable farming. Reading Joel Salatin’s books You Can Farm and Pastured Poultry Profits got the wheels spinning for us, and we got excited about getting started.

In early 2011, we purchased our farm and in June of the same year we packed up and left good work and good friends in Houston, TX,  to become farmers in North Carolina.  Since last summer, we have been getting our hands dirty by experimenting with raising gardens, chickens and pigs. We plan to launch our farming business this spring—starting with selling pasture raised broiler chickens and eggs, and naturally grown produce direct to friends, and also at the new Old Salem Cobblestone Farmers Market, a producers-only market on Saturday mornings that will be run by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.

Our search for a farm name actually helped us to clarify the vision we had for our business. As we searched for something inspired, I looked to the name of our city, Winston-Salem for inspiration.  Words having to do with Salem, or “peace” for a farm name seemed too hippy-ish to describe us.  My good friend, Amy, had recently given the name Winston to her new kitten, and I realized I really liked that name.  I looked up Winston on a baby names site to see what it means—joyful stone. That was nice, but not very meaningful.  I saw that a variation on the name was Winstead.  Oohh!!  That caught my attention! Winstead reminded me of homestead. I checked out the definition: “friend’s farm”.  I like that. I really like that.

I like this meaning, because it would be such an honor for people to sit around the table with those they love and be able to say that their friend raised the foods on the table. We are passionate about restoring the connections between eaters and growers.  We want our farm to be open for customers and friends to come by and see how their food is grown, and we want people to enjoy the fruits of our land and labor.  Our mission is to grow high quality food to nourish our community.

I also love how by just being in relationship with others, we shape how they think about food and nourishment.  Amy has been telling me how her perspective on food is being shaped by the short time we’ve been friends. She and her husband watched the film Fresh on our recommendation, and she said that “something clicked” that helped her understand more about what the movement toward local, fresh food was all about.  She described to some young friends that this movement was a snowballing of people learning more about the effects of how food is grown and distributed, making choices to buy natural and local, and producing products that treat the land and the body with respect. The momentum of the movement is increasing.  We’re so excited to begin producing top quality food just at the time when more and more people are starting to seek it out for reasons of taste, animal welfare, nutrition, and environmental stewardship.  Our dreams are big, and our land is a canvas of possibilities.

Gwen and her husband Graham are new farmers at WinsteadFarm in Winston Salem, NC. They have a 18 month old son, Ephraim who loves chickens. Gwen is a homemaker, and a voracious student of cooking and nutrition.  She loves to sing and play music, read, and travel.  She blogs at: 

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