The way a farmer chooses to grow food is important not only to the health of your family but also to the health of our environment. As a consumer of food, you get to make environmental decisions by what you eat. How was your food grown? Are you eating what is in season locally or was it shipped here? Look at your food’s carbon footprint. As a community of eaters and food producers, we can make decisions that make a difference for our planet.
Although farming is an extractive industry, many decisions made on the farm can make it more in tune with the environment. Above and beyond growing organically, a farmer decides what kind of seeds to buy, whether to plant a cover crop, whether to till and how often, how to deal with waste, and what kind of inputs are needed on the farm, such as composting techniques. Of course choosing not to use pesticides can make a big difference to our environment.
By George Farm, a dairy and cheese-making farm in Oregon’s Little Applegate, has done a lot for the environment by using solar panels and being Salmon-Safe certified. In addition, it has some creative environmental systems in place, one of them dealing with waste products. For example, in the cheese-making process, pounds of whey are generated each day. By feeding that whey to their chickens, the farm is not only dealing with their waste, but the chickens are also reaping the added calcium, fat and protein from the whey. Now there is less feed to buy off site so By George has reduced the carbon foot print of its egg production, not to mention having healthier and happy chickens.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of sampling some of By George’s farm fresh culinary delights, you’re in for a treat. The owners and operators, Jonny Steiger and Tyson Fehrman, bring an array of vegetables, eggs, pickled products and cheeses to restaurants and five farmers’ markets throughout the Rogue Valley. They also deliver to grocery stores including Whistling Duck Farm Store in Grants Pass and the Cheesemonger’s Wife in Jacksonville. The work of a dairy farm goes on 365 days a year. Milking occurs daily at 6am and again at 6pm. Currently the farm is getting over 50 gallons a day of fresh milk, which is going straight into cheese production at their new onsite state-of-the-art creamery. A new favorite not to miss is the Buncom Brie, which was named after the nearby last-standing ghost town in Oregon. According to the By George web site, the brie is so good it “will haunt you!”