Country Living

I’m all about fresh air and rolling hills, nature, ahhh – isn’t it wonderful. That being said, I think if I had to pick a camp to describe which way I lean – I’m ya know, more of a city girl. It’s not that I don’t like being out in the countryside – I love it – I just don’t find myself out that way much since we’re usually hanging out on our own turf (don’t we all live in our little boxes a wee too much?). So when I saw a cool little flyer in our local paper for an opportunity to scoot our booties out to the land of endless sun and check out how the other half is making it happen – I jumped!

Piedmont Farm Tour

And by other half, I mean the most amazing group of hard working human beings – seriously – these people are something else. Jay and I are really trying to get more of our food from the local farmers around us (vs. the super market, where it’s carted in from half a world away), so we thought this little farm tour was a pretty awesome way to get to know the faces of the people that are behind all the magic. We’ve signed up for a CSA this spring, and the tour offered us a chance at seeing where our food was actually coming from – is there anything cooler than that?

Red Barn Photograph

In addition to being able to see the actual farm where our fruits and veggies will be coming from – the tour included like 30 other farms in the Piedmont region. From pigs to potatoes, there were farms along the tour that had it all.

Our first stop advertised puppies – I have to say I was disappointed that I exited and re-entered my vehicle without petting any pups – isn’t that sad. That being said, there were lots of other baby animals 😀

And kitties, lot of kitties.

This guy – umm – yeah. He’s definitely my fav. I think he wants a carrot. Or maybe some lettuce. He wants something.

Farm Tours North Carolina

All the cows made me think of my dear mumzie (Wisconsin born and raised). We only saw beef cattle on our little tour of the farm side, but I’m sure there are dairy cattle somewhere in this fine state. Side note – ummmm – milk is WAY more expensive here in NC – like twice as much! I don’t miss that whippersnapping, backbreaking cold, but by George, I miss my $2 milk. $4 whhaaaa??

Free Range Cattle Farm

In addition to seeing all the fine farm animals at our tour, we also had an opportunity to see some veggies in their prime. Seriously, I would just die of happiness if I had a veggie garden with this level of straightness in it’s rows. Scrumptious.

Farm Tour North Carolina

In addition to being able to see some of the plants that were further along on their growing journey to get in my belly, we also saw some seedlings just getting started.

Organic Vegetable Farms

The third farm we visited definitely took the cake though. First, it had herding dogs. I mean, that’s pretty rock solid awesome. But right as we were rounding the final corner to leave the farm (or so we thought), we stumbled across a big old field full to the brim with chickens!! I mean, like thousands of chickens just bagalking all over the place.

Free Range Chicken Farms

A fun thing about this farm tour set up, is that in addition to being able to be up close and personal with the animals, we were also able to purchase eggs, meat and veggies as we toured each location. This stop had cartons of eggs for purchase. You could either go collect them yourself (where the chickens were laying them) or you could be lazy and pick a dozen from this big old barrel of them.

Free Range Chicken Eggs

Doesn’t that shot just look like a slice of americana? I love it 😀

North Carolina Free Range Chickens

There were also chickens chilling with some big fat pigs along the back stretch. Funny little buggers. Man, pigs are stinky animals, are they not?

North Carolina Pig Farm

Overall, it was super fun to go on this tour. It’s more or less a fundraiser for the farms in the Piedmont area, so it was nice to support something (albeit in a small way) that we really believe in. Jay and I are pretty excited that we signed up for our very first CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) this year (an egg and cheese one, actually) so I’ll definitely have to report back for all of you guys on that as well! Anyone else out there do the CSA thing, I’d be curious to hear different perspectives on it!

 

Detroit and a Case of Strawberries

Some things in life, are matters of the heart. Matters of the soul. Some things can’t be taught to you through books, can’t be learned in a classroom, but only through seeing, feeling and living. Detroit has long been a place that I’ve been so incredibly fascinated by, and as a life long Michigander, it’s also a place that is far too distant and removed from my day to day reality and understanding. My capability to understand.

I’ve long known that Detroit held a poignant story for me. For all us American’s, about what happens when we turn away from our people, our community, our roots. What happens when we let capitalism and corruption take a city and devour it whole. But this weekend, I started to discover that Detroit also holds this deep rooted and fervent potential to be something so much more than the shell it currently is. The shell it is perceived to be. There is life in this forgotten town. This city is absolutely brimming with life.

Eastern Market Detroit

This weekend, I had a chance to hop on bus and see some of Detroit’s best cultural attractions, which gave us sheltered Ann Arbor folk an opportunity to see life on the other side of the blockade wall of prosperity we all stand behind. Walking a mile in another’s shoes, another’s life, was so, so refreshing for me. It allowed me to step back from my conceptions of what Detroit was to me, and actually experience it.

If you have never been to Eastern Market in downtown Detroit, I absolutely cannot recommend it enough to you. It’s absolutely brimming with fresh foods and culture. From musicians lining the periphery to the hundreds of vendors inside the market, this place has it’s own unique culture, and people flock to it.

I’d be remiss not to mention the hundreds of apples lining every stall. This is fall in Michigan after all. 😉

Michigan Apples

In addition to the actual market, which was 4 huge stalls full of every produce, meat and dairy item you could imagine, there were also cute little shops that lined the outskirts. There was an antique shop, a few diners, and lots of specialty stores that carried Michigan specific products. One of my favorite shops along the side of the market was Rocky’s. From the gentleman that held the door open with a big old smile for every single patron to the wonderful packaging on the locally sourced and produced products lining the wall, this place had me at hello.

Another favorite was Devries, which made me feel like I was stocking up at the general store before loading up my wagon to head west. Do I scream child of the 90’s with my Oregon Trial flashbacks? 😀

Eastern Market Detroit

Other than soaking in lots of D-town culture, I also really enjoyed snagging some serious deals at the market. A la, these strawberries.

Strawberry Recipes

Yes. That’s a case. Guess how much I paid for them. Come on!!! GUESS! ….. wait … for …. it …. FOUR DOLLARSSS!!! I think we can all go ahead and stamp that one as a WIN for Mary Sell.

Our entire week has been full of strawberry-filled-goodness.

Like these muffins, recipe here.

Strawberry Bran Muffins

Or these milk shakes. Scoop of vanilla ice cream, cup of strawberries. Bam.

Homemade Strawberry Milkshake

Along with gussied up morning waffles. And more fruit smoothies than you can bat a stick at.

Strawberry NutriBullet Recipe

And we still have 4-containers left! Send me your strawberry recipes! 😉 No seriously, send them!

Until tomorrow Detroit. For every sad, lonesome and forgotten piece of history, you have ten wonderful people waiting to recreate your history and make this city great again. God speed. With every bone in my body, I hope Detroit not only makes it, but thrives. So many amazing things are happening here. There is so much yet to be seen.

In closing, I’ll leave you with a picture of a hoodie I saw on a middle aged, tired and proud looking man I came across roaming the market with his family. Detroit hustles harder. Yes it does, America. Yes it does.

Detroit Hustles Harder