Paying $250 to slosh around in the muck and mud of a farm while learning how to accurately slit the neck of a chicken may not be everyone's idea of a good time, but it sure is beneficial to learn about. The American Farmland Trust estimates that a farm is lost to developing businesses in New York every three days. Jen Smalls and Mike Yezzi have set up a Farm Camp at Flying Pigs Farm in Washington Country in upstate New York just to bring to light how important local food sources are, in response to the decline in farms.
Mike and Jen have sold their heritage-breed pork to a number of New York City restaurants including Gramercy Tavern and Il Buco, but even if you're sitting at a restaurant with a plate of Flying Pigs Farm pork in front of you, you may not realize all that it takes to get it there. When you participate in Farm Camp, you learn valuable skills like choosing the best chicken for dinner, holding piglets during castration and gathering eggs. It is revelatory to be a part of the whole process.
The program runs from 11:30 a.m. on Sunday through dinner on Monday and you can sleep over at the farm as well. Activities include touring the facilities, which include an artisan cheese section, and milk-bottling almost directly from the cow's udders. The day ends around a communal table with wine and eat some of the foods you procured during your camp activities.
An agri-tourism grant from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets allowed Jen and Mike to set up Farm Camp for Food Professionals but even if you have no ties to the food industry, it's still a wonderful way to experience life on a farm complete with 19th century barn and then some.
Check out more about Farm Camp here.
Photo: cwwycoff1 on flickr