Local author urges agrarian return in debut book

Posted: Thursday, November 27, 2014 12:00 am
By Kyle Adams
River Chronicle Staff


FarmOn! founder Tessa Edick’s new book, “Hudson Valley Food & Farming: Why Didn’t Anyone Ever Tell Me That?” seeks to answer a couple of questions she gets a lot as a food and farm columnist: What does it mean to “farm on”? And how do I do it?


Edick, who writes the “Meet Your Farmer” column for Columbia-Greene Media, debuted her book at ABC Carpet and Home in New York City on Nov. 20. On Saturday, Nov. 22, she held a book signing at bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy in Rhinebeck, where she chatted with guests about the importance of food awareness and fresh, seasonal produce.


“The book is kind of a resource and a journey into food,” said Edick.


Drawing on her background in food manufacturing and her vast knowledge of Hudson Valley farming, the book is a manifesto for breaking away from convenient, processed food, with plenty of information about healthy eating, as well as practical advice for making it happen.


“We must weave our agrarian food ways and the locavore movement back to the table,” she writes in the introduction. “Take back control of what you eat — not with more TV recipes or supermarket trips but by making a connection to the farm. Any farm. As many as you can. Immediately. Forget what you are wearing and start only talking about who’s feeding you because you care about how you look and feel. Too often, health isn’t valued until it’s lost, which is happening all too frequently with our fast, convenient ‘now-now-now Big Food’ lifestyles.”


Edick founded the non-profit FarmOn! in 2012 to help support and preserve family farming, raise awareness of food choices, and inspire young people to pursue agricultural careers to “create an economic engine connecting rural and urban marketplaces,” according to the organization’s website.


The organization has a farm in Copake, the Empire Farm, that serves as an educational incubator for young farmers.


“I realized that we have a gap now,” said Edick. “If farmers are 58 and the kids are interested in farming, how are we going to bridge rural and urban marketplaces to give the kids a viable livelihood and teach them the business of farming?”


The farm was once owned by Henry Astor, who “had this great idea to feed the community and bring wellness through food,” said Edick.


FarmOn! also works to bring fresh, local milk and other produce to school districts. Edick said they provide milk to six school districts now and are always looking for more.


“We will fund that and make that happen, as well as put ‘victory gardens’ in their school if they need one,” she said.


In her book, she weaves stories of local farms with information about how to visit and get involved with them, guides readers through local farmers’ markets, CSAs, historical homes and farm-to-table restaurants, and provides the information and motivation to break away from processed foods and encourage the next generation of farmers.


“We live in an agrarian society — we just (temporarily) lost our way from the farm,” she writes. “Back to the farm we must go. And when we do, when we opt out of a system of poison for profits, we will mutually benefit ourselves and our community.”


Edick will hold another signing from 5 p.m.to 9 p.m on Friday at the Basilica Farm & Flea at Basilica Hudson.


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