Do you personally know any farmers or fishermen?

It wasn’t until I moved to Italy that I came to know any farmers or fishermen. I had known people in the US who had pretty good sized vegetable gardens, but they all gave their excess produce away. There was someone in my family who liked to fish, but only rarely caught some for dinner. But I didn’t know anybody growing food or harvesting to sell to stores.

Now one of my neighbors is a chicken farmer, who is also raising geese. I also know a couple of fishermen, but less well. They mainly fish for anchovies and tuna that they sell to restaurants or co-op stores.

Do you maintain any personal relationship with a commercial farmer or a fisher?

Hi, HT:

Yes, with both.

A powerful case can be made that no foodie can have deep understanding without familiarity/intimacy with how their food ingredients come to them. Example: wine critics/connoisseurs who’ve never been around viniculture or viticulture.

Aloha,
Kaleo

Yes . I am both .

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Yes, I agree with this – although I will admit upfront I am never going to a slaughterhouse.

Do you mind my asking what you raise and sell? Do you sell your fish (or seafood) as well?

I was thinking today that my grandmother was raised on a commercial apple farm and worked it as a teen. When my mother was born, my grandmother had relocated to an area whose economy significantly depended on potato farms and commercial fishing, and these were my mother’s neighbors. My father was totally urban, including his European ancestors, and he brought my mother to live in the city. So apart from being taken to granny’s apple farm as a baby, I had no direct experience of farmers and fishers, and just in one generation all that direct contact with food production was lost, and complete ignorance ensued! (Just book-learning.)

Even though I know only one commercial farmer in Italy, I think most people in Italy still count farmers or fisherman in their social circle, and a huge number of people still grow a lot of their own food, even make their own wine, including way over 50 percent of my neighbors in Italy.

I don’t sell anything . I have a large garden and fish .

Ah! I should have made my subject query more clear, and now it is too late to edit it.

I was curious about who personally knew others who farmed or fished for a living. It was something I only read about in books or saw on TV shows as a child, and I think I never really had any idea about how people would make a living doing it. It has been interesting to me in Italy to be around people closely who are producing food, and seeing how they go about their business – their relationship to the land, the weather and also their customers, and their status in the community.

I was also curious beause it seemed likely to me that many people here knew restaurant owners or chefs. I wondered if they knew any farmers, ranchers, fishers.

Got it . Thanks

Yes, my grandfather’s brother was a farmer (tobacco and potatoes). He’s no longer here, but the farm is. From his obit in 1999:
A friend and fellow farmer, said (he) was a farmer who worked in the field daily, one of a breed that is vanishing as Connecticut agriculture moves toward mechanization.

He was out early in the morning in his pickup, and he had his finger on everything'' at the farm, Lipton said.He was a hard-working man and a nice person. He never stopped as long as he could get into that truck.’’

And we have friends with a farm, but it’s not their primary business. It is still a business, nonetheless.

Yes, I do personally know a farmer–actually, I sleep with him (husband of over 40 years)!
We have a small farm in central Texas and we have bee hives and chickens, as well as very large vegetable and herb gardens. We sell honey, and I sell eggs when the ladies are laying more than we can use. We also give excess to the local food pantry, since fresh vegetables are a scarce commodity there. I’ll sell vegetables when we have more than we can preserve and the pantry needs money more than zucchini. We have a pond with fish, but friends fish the pond and split the catch with us, so it’s not a commercial enterprise.
We are surrounded by farms that grow hay, oats, corn, millet, and have cattle.
Farming is a tough business–too much depends on the market, weather, and imported crops–but it is a satisfying way of life for those tough enough and dedicated enough to farm.

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One of the reasons I asked the question is because now that I live with so many farms around me, I am much more conscious of the weather, even though I’m not doing any of the work. But many of the smallest farms sell to the local stores, and it has been interesting to see which years produce good samples of my favorite foods and which don’t, and why. Or how hard people have to work in years when there are bumper crops. (This has been especially true of olives in some seasons).

In the immediate neighborhood, I think only one family is primarily living off the farm, which includes eating much of what they grow as well as selling some things. Most of the rest of the growing is a labor of love, but people will sells the excess to the local stores and restaurants.

I once lived in an area of California with zillions of orange trees, but that was a much more “corporate” operation. Most people who owned the groves were wealthy, and had no real use for the oranges, so they hired in teams of pickers who were working for the major juice makers, and that activitiy only came once a year, so once scarcely had the sense of intimacy with a farming community.

My uncle was a commercial pig farmer, he no longer has the farm (it had been in the family for generations) but no one in the family wanted to carry on the tradition so it was sold. My parents now live in Maine, so we know a few lobstermen. We just picked up our turkey today from our local farm where the couple raises chickens, turkeys, pigs (some veg).

So while I know many, I have to say that none are a part of my immediate social circle per se - I haven’t had them over for dinner for example, which is unfortunate. But farmers work such crazy hours it is hard to do that!

My neighbor is a commercial fishermen in the Bay Area. He started out selling from his truck, in front of their house, with a big sign that said “Salmon”. He expanded to other fish and moved on to selling at local farmers markets. Their weekly “fishmail” says things like “it was too windy to go too far out to sea today, so we’ll only have [this fish]. [Another fish] is starting to move closer to shore, so we’ll probably have it next time”. So, a real connection to the environment.

I haven’t invited the farmer I know over to dinner – but I was just more thinking of people you see fairly regularly, know something about their lives and families, run into at the market or other places, and of course who would stop to help you in an emergency – that sort of thing. For most of my life, had someone asked me: “Do you know any farmers?”, I would have drawn a blank.

As far as I can tell, most people farming around here, commercially or not commercially, are keeping very regular hours: up at dawn, work 'til noon, resume work at 4pm or 5pm, stop not too long before sunset. They eat big lunches – but they aren’t the only ones. Even many office workers and most shop owners in Italy are still following that daily rhythm.

Most definately.

Many in my family have a saltwater product license. One of my nephews’ has buoy #10 for his crab pots. Tells you how long he has had it.

Shrimping, crabbing and fishing is how much of my family makes a living. Two family members own seafood markets where they sell their catch, among other tasty things.

My niece owns Angies Crab Shack in Orange Park, Fl. Seafood fresh off the boat. They also sell trays of steamed garlic crabs, shrimp, you can add corn on the cob, potatoes, sausage if you like. Yummy.

My nephew owns Steves Bait and Tackle in Jacksonville, It is also a full service seafood mkt. Right off the boat.

Another family member sells his crabs to the grocers like Winn Dixie.

I hope this didnt sound too much like an advertisement. LOL. But I am very proud of what they do. It isnt an easy job.

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I only have acquaintances earning their living in these ways where I live now.

As a child I always knew commercial fishermen and sponge divers. Once in college I knew farmers too. A couple I knew started farming catfish in the mid '70’s when it was a very new concept. I’ve known quite a few organic farmers who began during that period. Had a cousin who had a pig farm. Another cousin with a truck farm to supply area restaurants. One friend got a good portion of her income from raising watercress and a variety of mushrooms plus goats for milk.

Most everyone needed a spouse with a cash generating job or else juggled a number of related odd jobs (portable saw mill, soap from excess goat milk, workshops on mushroom propagation, tanning hides for re-enactors, etc.)

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I could never in a million years be a fisher. The fishermen I’m able to watch working have really difficult working conditions most of the time. I do know one woman married to a fisherman who operates the store, and cleans all the catch. She is an incredibly elegant woman who is up to her elbows 8 hours a day in fish guts.

@meatn3, now that you mention it, I also had some college-age friends who decided to go into organic food farming/food production of some sort, and some who worked seasonally on farms. Most of them really struggled, or quit, but I have the feeling it was still easier to do then than it would be now. One friend of my husband’s was a beekeeper in upstate in NY and was poor most of his adult life, but when he wanted to retire, he was able to sell his property for a minor fortune and is now fairly well off.

How big is your fish?

I suppose my answer depends on what the OP means by “know”. I know producers at my local farmers market. But I dont know them in the sense that they are friends, neighbours or acquaintances. I suppose if I lived in a rural area (or a coastal area, with a fishing industry), then it might be different.

We buy a lot of our produce directly from farmers so I have become well acquainted with quite a few of our local farmers. That would be in Monmouth, Middlesex, Burlington & Ocean Counties in NJ. It never ceases to amaze me how much quality produce can be found within 10-20 miles of me. The list of produce we buy includes red, green & sauerkraut cabbages, cucumbers for pickles, tomatoes (of course - it IS NJ after all), Strawberries, peaches, plums, sour cherries, beets, onions, cauliflower, all kinds of peppers & pearl onions.

Some of our farmers are 3rd & 4th generation & all of them are hardworking. Most of the farms are 40 acres or less with one exception. That farm is much larger & produces for grocery stores & etc. It’s interesting this year because our production increased so much this year. So - now we are talking to our partner farmers about what & when we are going to need things for next season. I think they are kind of amazed to have someone take that level of interest & plan together.

Except for that one large farm, all of them feel that they are the last generation who will be farming in their family. All of them are worried about what will happen to the land once they stop farming it.

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I was on the board of directors for the Cherry Street Farmers Market for 10 years so yes, I have a lot of friends who are farmers. I know where my food comes from during the growing season.

My grandfather was a fisherman. He oystered during oyster season and shrimped during shrimp season and when the stripers were running by the Pensacola Bay Bridge he would fish. Most of his catch was sent to Joe Patti’s Seafood. I used to go oystering with him occasionally, that was hard work.

I have a good friend up near Springfield, MO, he is an organic gardener. He also brews his own whiskey.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

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