Archive for News
With all due respect to Marvin Gaye, the goings on at The Urban Farmhouse are pretty cool these days. We’ve been doing well at our flagship Shockoe Slip restaurant, and the feedback has been great for our Millworks location (and a special Thank You to the wonderful folks in Midlothian who have been so quick to embrace us). Our Late Spring Menu is days away, we’re adding new products to The Market, and we have a pretty full music calendar.
OH! And Artists! We have two new artists bringing in work for May. So there’s that.
We’ve also been fine-tuning and expanding some things:
You can reserve The Urban Farmhouse for your special event. Seriously. We’ll set aside the entire Farmhouse for you and yours. We’ve been conducting a not-so-stealth operation that offers catering and box lunches for businesses and such, and have actually hosted some events at The Farmhouse, like a recent wedding. Think about it: Beautiful Summer night, surrounded by your family, handsome groom, beautiful bride, the twinkling lights of the Slip and the windows thrown wide at The Urban Farmhouse….
Just think about that and imagine the same scenario on our patio at Millworks. Then contact email@example.com. She’s a gem, and will get you all hooked up.
Speaking of our PATIO AT MILLWORKS: It’s looking pretty sweet! It was hard when we first moved in, as we were about the first business to open up. Fortunately, our Southside Farmhands found us pretty quickly, so loneliness wasn’t an issue. Now, as the weather has ripened, we’ve been able to add some accoutrements, like tables and chairs. Right in the middle, we have a huge, family-style table that was made by this awesome guy, Bill Fields, who salvages wood from old buildings to create these amazing pieces. He also made our coffee tables. And we’re coloring things up a bit. Farmhand Brae spent some sunny days planting some herbs and stuff, so you’ll see some freshies on the tables. While we’re excited to welcome the return of the Farmer’s Market (May 4th. Quit asking), we’re trying to work out the logistics of starting our own vegetable garden. We’re in serious talks with the landlord and Mother Nature.
Lastly, we’re going to tweak this website. It’ll be easier for you to find menus, search for events, and we’re looking to showcase The Market. You know that you love bringing Farmhouse stuff home with you. It’ll be easier. And you’ll know when we launch the new website. One day you’ll click, and it’ll be like magic.
Now, on to the events. Farmhand Brae is handling our booking, and we’re rotating out featured artists and musicians. Live music will remain Saturday nights from 6 until about 8, and Sunday brunch music will be 11 ‘til one. If you’re interested in a gig, firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s your girl.
See you soon.
- Good Coffee
- Good Food
- Good Coffee and Food that’s healthy and responsibly grown
- Good Coffee and Food that’s fresh
- Wearing Black
Numbers 1 and 5 may make us seem like coffee shop hipsters, and to be truthful, there are a fair number of Farmhands that sport body art, piercings and creative facial hair, but it’s who we are. But we’re fortunate to be able to combine our loves with our work here at The Urban Farmhouse.
That kind of makes us sound like missionaries or something: “Our Work.”
Well, we kind of are missionaries. Our mission is to provide folks who visit us with food, drinks, and merchandise that represents the finest that Mother Earth can provide. And to try to do it as locally as possible. When we use Bearer Farm Honey, we’re supporting their efforts to let bees be bees. We sell biodynamic wines because they’re tasty and the process respects the fields the grapes are grown in. Local fruits and vegetables are fresher, usually taste better, and support the farms and farmers who pump billions of dollars into Virginia’s economy. We kind of feel like everyone should have an Urban Farmhouse nearby. Currently, there are only two neighborhoods that fit that bill, but who knows…..
That’s why we jumped on board to help out some dear friends at Tricycle Gardens. A short trip from Shockoe Slip, in Richmond’s Manchester district, they created an Urban Farm. Perfect, right? It’s very much like an urban oasis – an unused parcel of city space that has been turned into a garden overflowing with fresh food. What’s truly great about it is that there are many in our cities and towns who don’t really get to experience this. We’ve talked about it before: Some people live in “food deserts.”
There is a certain sense of satisfaction that comes with being at an Urban Farmhouse early in the morning. When our deliveries show up, we open crates and packages of fresh produce, and honest to goodness, you can smell the freshness. It smells like earth, sun, sweetness, tartness, and good. Wine makers call it “terroir.” You can taste this stuff and smell it and feel like you’re right there where it was grown. And that’s what Tricycle Gardens brings to folks who are in a food desert. They can see a bona-fide farm, right in their neighborhood. They can see things growing, buy produce that was in the earth just moments ago, and eat healthy stuff that they probably haven’t had access to in a while.
Tricycle Gardens also has a tremendous outreach program. They run classes on growing your own food, on container gardening for apartment dwellers, on composting and worm bins, and they let people participate in the process of making fresh food. It’s said that if you want to engage someone in something, get them to do it. Sure, sounds like fun, but until you stick your hands in the earth or bite into a fresh-from-the-vine tomato, you just don’t know.
And here’s the thing – Tricycle Gardens is a non-profit driven almost solely by volunteers. In about a decade, they’ve used this passion to create almost a dozen gardens around Richmond, a market, and a greenhouse for winter growing. Our part of the deal is easy. We combined our logo with theirs, splashed it on some shirts and hoodies, and offered to sell them to whoever wants one. That pretty girl at the top of the page is Brae. She’s a Farmhand, and she’s wearing one of the shirts. The proceeds from each and every sale will help them to grow, to spread that message, and bring some “terroir” to some folks who may have never tasted it.
If you believe in terroir, and want to help us support Tricycle Gardens, stop in The Urban Farmhouse and pick up a hip shirt. You can also shop online here. And Thanks.
You know that we like to shop local. We also like it when you shop local. Whether you’re in Downtown Richmond or cruising Midlothian, we appreciate it when you visit with The Urban Farmhouse or with the locally owned businesses in our area. That doesn’t stop with our food and drink. The musicians and artists that we feature either come from or have pretty strong ties to the Richmond area.
That being said, we often get questions on our Facebook and Twitter asking who’s playing or what artist did the amazing piece on the wall. We’ve kind of filled our calendars on a case-by-case basis, but based on your interest and in an effort to get a little more organized (what with two Farmhouses to mind!) we thought that we’d get a little ahead of the curve.
Music in the Slip:
Music in Midlo:
- March 2 – Dwayne Sanders
- March 9 – Sean Bendula
- March 10 – Strummer
- March 16 – Matthew Blanton
- March 23 – Evan McKeel
Artists in Shockoe:
- March – Samantha Kardos
- April – Deanna Delgado
Artists in Midlo:
We’re also having Wine Tastings in Shockoe and Midlo. All of the tastings will be from 5 to 7. On March 6 we’ll welcome Andes Importers to Shockoe. They’ll be in Midlothian on March 27. March 20 we’ll have DelFosse Vineyards in Shockoe.
And Food! We’re sampling food! On March 8 we’ll have Wheeler Wood from Biscotti Goddess from 11:30 til 2 at The Urban Farmhouse Midlothian. Get your nom nom on on.
We’ll expand this a bit and get you some more details as we get them. Stay tuned and hungry Urban Farmhouse friends!
Every once in a hot minute we get part of our 15 minutes of Fame. One day, the GEICO Gecko had lunch on our sidewalk. We also got to spend some time with Sam from nTelos. We had our very own moment in a music video. We look pretty good on film, though the television spots add a few pounds.
You may have seen folks filming more regularly in The Urban Farmhouse from time to time. We’re pretty open about it, because we feel like we’re kind of creative, and we admire those talents so we give those folks run of the place. Our most recent endeavor, though, has a larger purpose.
For the past year or so, we’ve hosted a regular series that you can watch on YouTube, Business Mondays. Craig Forbes is President of The Richmond Venture Forum and Renee Fisher is a Partner at Vaco Resources. Together, they represent some of the best and brightest in Richmond finance and entrepreneurship. What’s cool is that they’ve lent their expertise as hosts of this web series that has a Who’s Who of a guest list. They’ve had marketers, manufacturers, finance gurus, non-profit chairs, and a ton of other really cool people. And they film them all sitting in the window of our Shockoe Slip restaurant. A couple of weeks ago they sat down with Jim Cheng, Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia. He talked about the many things that make Virginia such a great place to do business.
We couldn’t agree more, Jim.
You can watch all of the Business Monday videos on their YouTube channel.
So unless you’ve been living under a rock, and we know that sometimes happens here in Richmond, we’ve officially opened our Midlothian location. 13872 Coalfield Commons Place, just off of Midlothian Turnpike in the new Millworks complex, at the corner of Woolridge and Coalfield Roads. And what have people said so far? Here’s some feedback from our Facebook page:
“Love the artwork you added!”
“Pastries, cappuccino and preserves and breads were delicious! Very cozy and so glad we have something like this on this side of town!”
“Cozy, friendly, yummy!”
“You’re off to a great start. I had worried you wouldn’t be able to capture the atmosphere of the downtown location, but I’m happy to say you’ve managed it quite “well, despite being in a newer building.’
“We just got an Urban Market next to Midlo Library!”
Yeah, we’re right next to the Midlothian Library.
Some have cautioned that by moving to “suburbia” we’re diluting our message or somehow being untrue to the philosophy of The Urban Farmhouse. Not so much. We’ve always looked at Richmond as kind of like New York: A city of Boroughs. Much like New York has Brooklyn and Queens, we have The Fan, Church Hill, and our original home in Shockoe Slip. And much like there are those in Manhattan who believe that everything North of 125th Street is “Upstate,” there are those who believe that everything South of the James River is a Third World Country. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t that far and you don’t need a passport. Think of it as the Long Island of Richmond.
And we were pretty particular about our new location. Sure, we went into a new building, but we chose the location based on geography and community. We are in Midlothian Village, which has a pretty long and colorful history. It’s been a working community for almost as long as Richmond, and that’s a long darned time. And it’s full of small businesses, Mom & Pop restaurants, schools and wonderful people. At one point, CNBC News called it a “perfect suburb.” But with the history and the people, it’s so much more than that.
So now, as we await the eventual snow and hunker down with a Hummus and Root Veggie Sandwich, a musical interlude from some friends of The Urban Farmhouse.
If you’ve read this blog or are on our email list or read any of Richmond’s local rags – there has been a bit of news floating around recently. We know that there are some who live under rocks and we are forever optimistic that we will one day attract new viewers and fans of The Urban Farmhouse who will take advantage of the vast and powerful interwebs to track us down, so we’ll give you a hint:
We’re growing up.
That’s right. Getting bigger, both physically and mentally. We can’t vouch for our emotional growth because we still get misty when Conto Novo plays that one song, but still. Alright, we still get confused about “it’s, its & its’” so the mental thing is up for debate, but we’re hard at work on our second location. That’s right, a brand stinking new The Urban Farmhouse located in the lovely hills of Chesterfield County.
In The Millworks at the corner of Woolridge & Coalfield Roads to be precise. It’s almost smack dab next to the Midlothian Public Library if you get lost.
But anyway, it’s another location.
But does this mean that we’re changing our moral high ground when it comes to your Urban Farmhouse grub? Heck no.
When you look at someone like MacDonald’s or Wendy’s or even your favorite chain restaurant (and we won’t judge), they all started out somewhere. It was cheap and easy burgers or hand-made milkshakes. It was nicely done inexpensive seafood for the whole family. And then it got all big and bloated and accountants started planning the menus. You ended up with pink slime instead of beef, whole wheat buns without any wheat, and vegetables that were sliced and frozen in a land far, far away. Chickens grown in Maryland were shipped to Iowa to be butchered, sent to Oklahoma to be turned into little dinosaur shaped nuggets, frozen, and then sent back to Maryland to be deep fried in god-awful fats and served to the very farmers that grew the chickens.
And that’s assuming that the dinosaur shaped nuggets still contain a modicum of chicken.
And what will we be serving? Honey from Hungry Hill Farm in Nelson County. Delicious seasonal fruits from Agriberry. Breads from The Flour Garden and eggnog from Homestead Creamery. In other words, good, wholesome fresh stuff. And if we can’t get it locally or from here in Virginia we’ll look for national partners who peddle things that are in keeping with our mission of serving you organic, sustainable and good foods. We’ll leave the secret chemicals and excessive processing to the bigger guys.
Local musicians playing live tunes? You bet. You won’t see a Clear Channel promo or big beer logo behind our gang of minstrels. And we’ll be as committed as ever to featuring the best local artwork on our walls, all created by exciting and up-and-coming artists.
And our message is stretching beyond the tired brick walls of our Cary Street restaurant. We’ve spent the fall participating in the GrowRVA Farmers Market, and hope to keep that going in the spring. Not everyone has the means to join us here, and even though we’re adding another location, being at a farmers market often gives access to good foods to people who wouldn’t see it otherwise.
Ironically, there’s a MacDonald’s on nearly every street corner in America.
And another darned thing: Contrary to science and our current weather, it’s going to get cold at some point this winter. And not everyone has a decent coat. That’s why we’ve joined proverbial forces with a bunch of other like-minded small businesses here in Richmond for the inaugural Bundle Up RVA. Go to B-Sides, The Fountain Bookstore, or any of the other participants and donate your used coats and other cold weather gear. We’ll gather them up and distribute them to the various Richmond homeless shelters. Drop off a coat – grab a sandwich. And feel good about it all the way around.
So, sure, we’re getting a little bigger. But we’re still just a little gathering place with tasty foods and refreshing beverages. Just The Urban Farmhouse.
We’re opening another Urban Farmhouse. Richmond BizSense spilled the beans this morning, so we had better let you in on it too. Thanks a lot, guys. No, really, thanks a lot. It’s nice to get good publicity like that.
We have to blame part of this on the boss. Kathleen grew up in the Richmond area and has family and friends in the Midlothian area. She’s been itching to broaden our horizons for a while now, and when she saw the site at the MillWorks she fell in love. Our next Urban Farmhouse will be in MillWorks at the Green just off of Midlothian Turnpike near Woolridge Road.
We’ve been down here in Shockoe Slip for over two years. It’s hard to believe that, as it seems like we were unpacking biodynamic wines and polishing copper just yesterday, but yes, two years. We love our lady here at 1217 E. Cary. She has a colorful history and seems to talk to us. No, really, we’re pretty sure that there are some ghosts around here, but they seem to dig what we’re doing and like the music we have for brunches and stuff, so they can stay.
And we’re staying too! The new Urban Farmhouse is just another location. It’s our chance to spread the love. We’ll still focus on local foods, still strive for sustainable, still dish up killer coffee, and share local artists and musicians. But sometimes it’s hard to get down here to the Slip. Parking can be a drag, we can’t really expand, and (believe it or not!) some people aren’t aware that Richmond has a vibrant downtown. But don’t be fooled into thinking that this is going to be a “Sub-Urban Farmhouse.”
There were a couple of reasons that Kathleen liked MillWorks. Opening a restaurant is obviously a big financial commitment, so a good deal needed to be in place, but the Village of Midlothian, just a skip from this development, has a rich history, much like the Slip.
When French Huguenots (sound familiar? Huguenot Road?) first came to the area just after 1700, Midlothian was a wilderness. They discovered coal, and the coal pits and mines in and around Midlothian are considered to be the first in the Country. As much as it pains us, many think that Midlothian was America’s first “industrial” town. It became a railroad town when Chesterfield began hauling coal to the docks in Manchester, just down the street from our current location. The current paths of Route 60 (Midlothian Turnpike) and Old Buckingham Road mirror trade roads that have been used since early in Richmond’s history.
The other thing that made this location attractive is the way that they’ve laid it out. While Midlothian is kind of the epitome of suburbia, this little stretch of Chesterfield is full of private shops and stores, and very conducive to walking. The developers of MillWorks have tried very hard (and we think succeeded!) to create an environment where people can live, work, and play. It has apartments, condos, offices, stores, and obviously restaurants. Everything about it encourages people to get out and walk around. We much prefer this to a strip mall sort of set up.
We hope to start moving in the local honey, Smithfield ham, and fresh produce in the early fall, with a projected opening in the first week of November. We’ll still have the great sandwiches, fresh salads, and savory dishes that you’ve grown to love. We’ll still have our commitment to the noble farmer, and still wrinkle our nose with a nag at big ag. The new Urban Farmhouse will just be a little closer to those of you living in the remote outposts of Richmond proper.
Supply and Demand, right? That’s what drives prices? It would seem to make sense that supply and demand drives the price of your groceries, just like everything else. But the true cost of your food is calculated in ways that you could never have imagined.
It would seem that nature would play a large part in the cost of food. A drought, a plague of locusts, or other natural calamity can wipe out a crop and drive up prices. That certainly happened last year, when wildfires in Russia wiped out millions of acres of wheat. Much of Europe then looked at countries like us for the grains that they needed, and a modest price spike occurred.
The real price hike, however, happened when commodity speculators sought to take advantage of this. They began to trade crop futures like little boys with baseball cards, and each trader sought to cash in on the hope that wheat would become like gold. For a while, it almost did.
Another factor in the price of food is the cost of oil. Farmers need fuel for their tractors, and since not everyone lives on a farm, we often have to transfer their crops great distances to get them on our tables. We have a somewhat unique conundrum in the United States, as we subsidize corn grown for bio-fuels. While it is better for the environment than regular old gasoline, the federal money for ethanol crops leads many growers to reap for the gas tank first, and the breadbasket second. As the cost of gas goes up, so does the cost of corn.
This high cost of corn also impacts the cost of meat. Contrary to what statistics are telling us right now, people make more money now than ever before, and as a result are more inclined to dig into a t-bone. As we become wealthier, more and more of us have access to and an appetite for meat. Acting contrary to nature, we feed our animals a whole lot of corn, and as that cost goes up, so does the cost of your steak.
A couple of years ago, we all became anxious when gas went over $4 per gallon. Do you know what else went over $4 per gallon? Milk. Does a body good, but won’t get your SUV to the store and back. Much like meat, this cost was also directly related to the cost of fuel. Between 2006 and 2007, at the height of our fuel crunch, the amount of corn grown to produce ethanol increased 52 percent.
That’s over half in a single year, and keep in mind that in 2007 it was almost 4 billion bushels of corn.
There is a husband and wife team who recently released a book, The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-Mile Diet. While we preach about local food, and still try to maintain a pretty steady diet of foods from right around Richmond, they do make some good arguments that going strictly local is a boneheaded idea.
What do we do when it’s wintertime? What if you live in an area like New York City? Will people in Toronto never again taste a strawberry?
They did some research and found that when people jumped into a local food diet they generally didn’t fare very well. Going local was often the result of things like war, and not having access to transportation for food often lead to millions of people starving. One of the good things about our great carbon-soaked blue marble is that when there is a raging prairie fire in the wheat belt of Russia, they can count on friends like us and the Chinese to send them grain to make bread. It’s like the Red Cross sending hot meals to a tornado-stricken town, but on a much larger global scale.
We like to meet the guys and gals that grow our stuff. We like to, whenever we have the opportunity, go out and smell the earth, see the blooms, and watch things grow. We like to offer meals that come from farms that have been growing and smoking and harvesting for decades. Makes us trust them.
All of this “commodity-fuel-cost” stuff is just food for your brain. Besides, what do we know? We run a restaurant.
Out playing with the little guy the other day. It was hot, and he got thirsty. Kids get that way sometimes. I directed him to the side of the house and a neatly coiled garden hose. A nearby parent shot me a look that screamed “child abuser”. Really?
I started thinking about my own childhood. I ate dirt. I chewed on blades of grass. My friends and I would splash in a creek that began at a huge culvert draining the detritus of our neighborhood. We would climb into the culvert in hopes of finding a secret city.
Further down stream we would flip rocks and gather crayfish. We rode our bikes home (without helmets), would play some tackle football in the yard (no pads), and quench our thirst with the icy cold water from a garden hose. Lunch was served al fresco, and anything slipping through our fingers to the ground was retrieved and consumed using a carefully timed five-minute-rule. Mom used to blow the germs off for us, but that was for sissies.
When we went home for visits we would exchange suburban exploration for rural adventures. The whole family was in Southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia. Beautiful, mountainous areas full of streams, hills, forests, and rolling pastures. The family had a small farm with chickens, cows, and pigs. There was a garden full of fresh vegetables and fruit trees everywhere. A creek that sat at the foot of an undeveloped hill, our Mount Everest, bordered the property. A day spent on The Mountain was a day away from civilization.
Packing for the trek involved picking fruit from the trees, grabbing some fresh veggies from the garden, traipsing across the pasture and avoiding the angry bull, wading across the creek, and climbing The Mountain until we could find a suitable campsite. A shelter would be constructed, a bonfire would be started, sleeping bags situated, and marshmallows would appear from a backpack. We would carefully sharpen some sticks and the festivities would begin.
Young boys camping alone in the woods, eating raw foods, playing with fire and pointed sticks. Call Child Protective Services.
Papaw taught us to wipe the dirt from the potatoes before we ate them. He showed us how to find the ripest apples. He schooled us in the art of picking fresh blackberries without getting snakebit. It was Papaw who showed us how to create the shelter and build a perfect fire. And you know what? He was never sick. I can never remember him having the flu, the sniffles, or even a cold.
The cattle that our family kept ate grass. Every fall we would walk the pasture and gather “cow pies” that would be tilled into the earth around the fruit trees and garden. Table scraps and ugly apples were fed to the pigs. Not an antibiotic or genetically modified seed to be seen.
The Food and Drug Administration is “recommending” that drug companies help to limit the amount of antibiotics used in animal farming. Big Ag is arguing that the drugs are a key part of meat production. They feed the stuff to animals from birth to slaughter because it increases weight gain, which in turn reduces the farmer’s feed costs. Plus, Mr. Farmer knows that his animals are going to get sick. If one kid in the little guy’s class has strep, everyone is going to have it. Imagine what it’s like with a few thousand cows penned up in horrible conditions.
The reason that the FDA is finally getting behind this (although in a somewhat tepid way) is because researchers are starting to find bacteria all over the place that is antibiotic-resistant. Have you heard of MRSA? It’s a staph infection that is common in hospitals, is resistant to most drugs, and kills people. The theory is that as we eat more and more mass-produced meat we absorb more and more of the chemicals that are pumped into the animals. Bacteria is clever, and genetically morphs itself to find another way into a host, namely us.
Back in 1977 the FDA issued a rule that banned penicillin and tetracycline use in farm animals. And how did that work out for us? About 80% of the antibiotics sold in the US of A end up in farm animals. Pharmaceutical companies even sell tons of it to ethanol producers. Why? They mix it up with corn waste that is then fed to livestock.
The really neat thing is that Big Ag gets its drug fix straight from big old Pharma. While you and I head to the physician to grab our meds the cow just dips his nose into its feed. No veterinarian, no prescription, no “Stick out your tongue and say moo”. It seems that the 1977 “rule” was more of a “suggestion”. “Yassir, I’d like two salt licks, some udder balm, and four bushels of cephalosporin.”
If you eat a bunch of garlic everyone sitting next to you the next day is going to know it. An overdose of carrots will give your skin an interesting orange glow. Asparagus will make your wee smell funny. It just does. Is it any stretch of the imagination to assume that consuming a bunch of meat that is better off stewing in a Petri dish than a bain-marie would wreak havoc on our own immune system?
Maybe if we sharpened some sticks and headed back to an actual farm we would be better off? Eating some dirt may have actually done wonders for my immune system. Cows are supposed to eat grass. Make no mistake; the water that we use here at The Urban Farmhouse has been treated and is sanitary. We take great pains to wash our utensils and equipment. We are big fans of food safety.
But maybe if we ate like Papaw we’d all be a little healthier and happier.
Whew. Now that I’ve got that off of my chest, if you need me I’ll be around the corner getting a drink out of our garden hose. Need something to wash out the dirt.
The US Department of Agriculture offers a “Zone Map” that divides the country up by climate areas. It offers tips and insights for the 82 million or so households in the United States that do some sort of gardening. It tells you that roses grow best here, gardenias like this climate, and lilies get cranky about the weather in your neighborhood. The folks who study plant and animal lifecycles (Phrenology) refer to the changes in the chart as “Climate Creep” (neologism: a coined word, term, or phrase).
The charts have been pretty static for the last, oh, CENTURY, but the latest version not only moves everyone five degrees closer to Florida, it adds three new zones, bringing us to thirteen. This means that magnolias, long a Southern delicacy, can now be grown in Pennsylvania. Camellias, a fixture of New Orleans, are being seen in North Carolina.
This has bigger ramifications, though.
Look at caribou. They migrate with the seasons, and move thousands of miles. They follow a cycle that has existed for millions of years. Creatures of habit, they get frisky at certain times of the year. Their migratory pattern has taken them to areas where pregnant caribou can feed on nutritious, fresh, spring shoots of grass. As the days get longer and warmer, those valuable nutrients disappear from the grasses. The grasses are starting to sprout earlier while the caribou are sticking to their old habits, and many studies point to this as a key factor in the decline in herd sizes for the North American beasts.
And it’s not just them. Animals that change color are finding themselves white amidst a blooming spring. Birds that migrate are choosing to stay put, and they’re laying their eggs earlier. Fire ants, normally controlled with cool temperatures and winter kill-offs, are living up to 100 miles north of typical habitats. Bees are flying into areas looking for plants to pollinate, and finding them already in bloom. “Hey guys, wait for us!” Crabs and fish that normally relax in the Caribbean are coming to vacation in the Mid-Atlantic.
This could also wreak havoc on our fetish for locally grown foods. We wonder about our friends at Bearer Farms and their confused bumblers. We like some good maple syrup and those trees need a real cold spell to produce sap. While it’s great to see things flowering, budding, and blooming in early March, we’re going to pay a stiff price later in the summer. Sure, we’ll see fresh strawberries in late April, and crisp lettuces earlier than ever. Juicy tomatoes for fresh salads sooner than we expected, and we’ll have the windows open for months. And by August we’ll be down to apples and potatoes. Not that there’s anything wrong with apples and potatoes, but variety is nice.
Climate Creep doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re having longer summers, just that our temperatures are moving North. To a certain extent, we’re still in an Ice Age. Go visit the South Pole or ask a Greenlander. And there is some evidence that the Earth was warmer in Medieval times than it is now. Perhaps our changing climate can create longer growing seasons or open us up for a bigger variety of fruits and vegetables?
Have you ever seen those documentaries with the soothing narrative and the bear coming out of hibernation? There is a smooth surface of unbroken white snow, when suddenly a nose appears. It’s Momma Bear, getting her first glimpse of sunlight in months. What if she sees flowers and green? She looks into the camera and says, “What the H@ll am I doing here?”