Fence Stile Vineyards and Winery is highlighting the farmers featured in our upcoming Farm + Market Local Food and Wine Experience. Tickets are still available for this exciting new wine and food event on Sunday, November 18th, 3:30-5:30 PM. $35 per person. RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 816-500-6465. Limited seating available. Reserve a seat today!
This week, meet Rebecca Graff and Tom Ruggieri of Fair Share Farm.
"In 2003, we began growing organic fruits and vegetables on Rebecca’s family farm in rural, northeastern Clay County, Missouri,' Ruggieri says. "She is the fourth generation to farm this land. We focus on building the soil through biological farming methods, including extensive cover cropping, animal rotations, mineral additions, mulching and composting."
The farm is home to two farmers, three cats, 160 laying hens, two roosters and countless frogs, butterflies, birds and insects. The remaining 200-plus acres of family farm is planted in native grasses, good habitat for deer, turkey, quail, coyotes, and many other species of wildlife.
"At the heart of Fair Share Farm are the 100 families that join us in our efforts through Community Supported Agriculture," Graff says. "Each family contributes between 4 to 16 hours per year to the CSA. They either help at the farm during the weekly harvests or on the Core Group which guides decision-making, holds member events, conducts the annual survey, coordinates the distribution sites and keeps the CSA running smoothly."
In 2016, Ruggieri and Graff completed the construction of an on-farm commercial kitchen and began producing fermented vegetables.
Ruggieri says, "At Fair Share Farm, we are the ones that harvest the vegetables that go into our ferments. This short distance of travel from field to jar has the inherent benefits of freshness and product control. As farmers and fermenters we are a part of a continuum from seed to jar. We are thus able to maintain product quality and control through our growing and handling practices. Just as a vineyard raises grapes and ferments them on-site to produce a product reflecting the terroir of the soil, our soil building and on-farm processing brings out the health, nutrition and umami of our land."
Ferments are made by hand in small batches. Graff notes, "Over 95 percent of what we put in each jar is raised on the farm. Our on-farm kitchen is a Clay County Health Department Food Establishment. We are permitted to ferment vegetables, in accordance with our HACCP plan."
The farm produces more than 20 different vegetables, fruits and herbs that are grown for the CSA. In addition, they grow more than 95 percent of the ingredients that go into the ferments. Fair Share Farm sells fresh vegetables exclusively to its CSA during the growing season and at the Brookside Farmers Market during the winter.
Ruggieri says, "Our ferments are sold to our CSA, at the summer Brookside Farmers Market, and at these retail locations http://fairsharefarm.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/ferments-stocklist-for-website1.pdf
"Our fundamental farming practice is to focus on feeding the soil to constantly improve its fertility," Graff says. "We plan our work each day with the goal of providing for the health and biological diversity of the farm, as well as reducing the effects of climate change."
For example, Graff and Ruggieri implement environmentally-focused practices, such as sequestering carbon at Fair Share Farm.
"It is the job of a biological farmer to feed the soil. Just like us, the soil has an appetite and the ability to grow," Ruggieri explains. "The soil is in effect the stomach of the plant. In order to add soil and organic matter to a farm it is necessary to provide a diverse diet, and a substantial amount of organic matter each year. At our farm we do this through a combination of cover cropping, mulching, compost application, chicken rotations, mineral additions, and water management. Since 2008 we have raised over 25,000 pounds per year of organic matter.
"The source of the organic matter added to our soil is the carbon in the air. Carbon dioxide is turned into plant matter by photosynthesis. When we grow and turn under a cover crop this carbon is then incorporated into the soil. This removing of carbon from the atmosphere and putting it into the soil is known as sequestering. Since 2008 we have sequestered an average of over 75,000 pounds per year of carbon dioxide."
In effect, farmers act as stewards of the land that they farm, ranch, and/or manage. Graff and Ruggieri take an active role in this responsibility.
"You are what you eat, so you are what your plants eat," Graff says. "This fact of physics is an important fundamental issue that defines our farming principles. We feed our soil, plants and animals solid food in the form of cover crops, mulches, minerals and organic feed. Our 16 years of soil building provides nutrition to our produce, eggs and ferments that you can taste."
"So-called conventional agriculture feeds plants soluble, synthetically-produced compounds," Ruggieri says. "This bypassing of the soil biology is analogous to feeding a person a strictly liquid diet, treating the plant as infirmed. This synthetic diet is reduced in complexity from a natural system and represents a diminishment of nutrition. When we eat conventional produce we are incorporating these synthetically produced chemicals into our body, making us less that all-natural. We reject this method of agriculture as it damages the both environment and the health of people. We feel it is important to have a livelihood that provides for the farm, farmers and community while tying together the biology of the land, our ferments and our bodies."
To attend the Farm + Market event, RSVP to secure a seat today. Meet your local farmers, taste local dairy prepared in several dishes by chef Pete Dulin, learn how Fence Stile owner-winemaker Shriti Plimpton paired dishes with wine, and take some some wine and fresh dairy products.
Farm + Market: A Fence Stile and Local Farm Food and Wine Experience
Featuring Fair Share Farm, Prairie Birthday Farm and Borgman’s Dairy Farm
Sunday, November 18th, 3:30-5:30 PM
Welcome Glass - Enjoy a glass of apple sangria or mulled wine.
Sweet potato, ginger, and turmeric samosa with curry goat’s milk yogurt. Paired with Vignoles.
Leek smoked with wild plum wood and lavender, grilled radish, oven-roasted turnips, and Chinese broccoli with spelt, topped with escabeche and goat’s milk cheese. Paired with Backpack Red.
Honey and apple sweet grits topped with Fence Stile blackberry compote and goat’s milk caramel sauce. Paired with Vidal Blanc.
Brand and events manager, chef and cellar rat Pete Dulin documents wine, food and operations at Fence Stile Vineyards and Winery through writing and photography.