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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Get Your (G)local On

Our tea comes from afar, but our main focus is on sharing it with the locals. One of the highlights of our spring and summer season is being at the outdoor farmers markets. We feel lucky to be part of these events where we get ongoing inspiration from local vendors, artisans and farmers who work hard to produce healthy food and wholesome products and build awareness around what goes into making it all. That is why we were so excited to attend the recent Small Farm Summit at Long Island's SUNY Old Westbury College Campus last Friday. The event was extremely motivating. Seeing so many people here on Long Island care so much about the source and safety of their food served as a reminder of the vibrant agricultural opportunities and communities in our own backyard!

There were many highlights to the event but for us, hearing Joel Salatin, from Polyface Farms speak, was wonderful. We first learned about Polyface Farms several years ago after reading an eye-opening book called The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. In this book, Pollan follows food from origin to table and highlights the individual and global implications surrounding the food choices we make. During his keynote and more focused workshop at The Small Farm Summit, Joel Salatin also spoke to this point. He illustrated how small-scale (almost portable) farming supports the local community, provides agricultural and economic sustainability and builds all-around integrity at the personal level and beyond. His discussions were passionate and enthusiastic, breathing life into a new generation of food growers and purveyors. Instead of maintaining secrets around his farming practices, he was eager to share the proven methods and models that have contributed to the success of his farm.

In a time when it seems that many large farms want to keep more secrets, it's refreshing to know that not every farmer is afraid to provide a window into how they produce their food and how they believe it affects the natural world and the people who consume it. We are thankful for courageous people like Joel Salatin who are unafraid to share ideas and take a stand for what they believe is right. We appreciate that he came all the way from Swoope, Virginia to Long Island's Nassau County to make the world a little bit smarter and a little bit smaller.

At The Tea Plant we hope to incorporate some of what we learned last week into our own practices. While we cannot always source our tea from small farms, we do our best to learn about where the tea is from, who picked it and how it has been produced. Someone mentioned the term "glocal" at The Summit. While there are many sides to this term, and it can sometimes be controversial, with our tea, we'd like to connect the locals with products from small communities around the globe so that these items can be enjoyed and those who had a hand in making them can be appreciated. We recognize that we aren't there yet, but we will keep trying to do our part to make the world a little better by striving to make it a little bit smaller however we can.

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