This month we reached out to our 2017 Grant Recipient, Amy Milliron, Owner/Educator of Hills of Milk and Honey – An Educational Farm, to be our first guest blogger to speak about how her farm reconnects people with the natural world.
Hills of Milk and Honey Farm, a one-of-a-kind teaching farm in Dripping Springs, hosts camps, classes and tours to not only offer the opportunity to truly understand and engage in farm life, but to learn about, and therefore support, regenerative agriculture and sustainability. Their 2017 culinary grant was used to further build a teaching garden and rain water harvesting system, and to support a summer camp. Additionally, Hills of Milk and Honey Farm plans to launch an interactive CSA program in which families have the opportunity to plant, harvest and engage in farm activities as part of their CSA membership.
An intense craving for groundedness is surfacing in our society today. Many adults reflect on simpler times when running around and playing in the mud was a daily given. Eating real food was commonplace regardless of the home you happened to land in when the dinner bell rang. Bare feet caked with dirt meant that you literally connected with the ground while at play. Approaching the night in filthy clothes was a sign of a great day.
What have we done? We have taken a simple concept of living life together in community, in relationship with neighbors and loved ones, and we have redirected our time, money, and attention to transactions. The focus has shifted to filling every minute with planned activities, leaving no time to be inspired or create anything. We expose ourselves to screens of one kind or another, many hours of each day, but we don’t get outside or read books. We eat nutrient-deficient foods from a drive-thru and we often don’t know where our food comes from. We don’t have meaningful conversations with others where we listen more than speak. And, we are modeling all of this for the next generation.
Adults have the benefit of remembering a time when people lived in community, cooked meals together, collectively watched out for each other’s children, helped each other mend, repair and remodel things around our homes, and gather in the evenings outside just to enjoy each other’s company. The current generation of children do not have that benefit. They have been born into this fast-paced culture we live in and they know no other way. This should frighten us, but, it’s not too late. There are plenty of opportunities to find that balance and give our families a chance to get grounded, quite literally. It can sometimes feel unattainable when there are so many things vying for our attention, most of which are on screens. However, the benefits of getting outside, touching living things, and breathing fresh air is so important that even doctors in Scotland recently started writing prescriptions for nature to combat mental illness and other maladies.
The educational farm, Hills of Milk and Honey in Dripping Springs, Texas is a perfect place to visit to reconnect with the natural world. There is nothing like witnessing a sunflower in a garden shift its petals to follow the sun, or milking a goat that makes the cheese that will adorn our plates, or collecting eggs from chickens that dutifully share to provide that perfect meal to start our days. Visiting a working, educational farm allows all of our senses to wake up. We touch, see, hear, feel and taste things new and different. We connect with other humans and with the earth. We eat meals on the farm and share ideas that inspire each other. We learn how our food gets to our plate.
Farm visitors often support local farms more with their purchases and cook more nutrient-dense meals at home after encountering nature in a new way at Hills of Milk and Honey. They seek out restaurants that support local farms. Children visit once and can’t wait to return! There is a community forming, centered around food, and how it heals our minds, bodies and spirits. This community is at the farm. No prescription required.
Buy your tickets online today for our Dinner + Farm Tour + Live Music event on Saturday, November 10, 2018 featuring the sounds of The Brian Wolff Duo. Visit hillsofmilkandhoney.com and note that pre-registration is required for all upcoming camps, workshops, tours, family days, and events. We’ll see you at the farm!
Last week, the Austin Food & Wine Alliance hosted a grant information session at Confituras Little Kitchen, one of our 2013 grant recipients. Prospective applicants were able to meet and greet over drinks and delicious biscuits. Cathy Cochran-Lewis, Grant Program Chair and Vice-President and Mariam Parker, Executive Director, provided an overview of the Culinary Grant Program, and Stephanie McClenny, Owner of Confituras Little Kitchen, shared her experiences applying for and receiving the grant.
For those of you who couldn’t make it, here are some highlights!
- This year, $60,000 in grant funds are available. This is the largest in our seven-year history and pushes the cumulative total to $252,500 given to local culinary professionals and businesses for innovative projects that give back to the community.
- Important dates to remember: The grant application deadline is October 12 by midnight and all grant applicants will be notified of their status by November 21.
- There is a sample application available, which you can view here.
- Our minimum grant amount is $2,500 and our largest grant ever given is $12,500.
- Six special named grants will be awarded this year, which you can learn more about here. You do not need to select a named grant when you’re applying.
- We often see applicants applying under the wrong category. If you’re unsure of where you fall – individual/other, business or non-profit, please email us and we can help.
- Regarding your culinary ideas, the advice is: “If it’s in your head, just put it down and share it! The more details you can provide, the better.”
- The AFWA Grant Judging Committee is composed of a private panel of prominent culinary professionals and community members. The committee will award the 2018 grants based on the grant criteria, application information, and goals of each applicant.
- The process of apply for the grant is often helpful! “It helped me re-assess where I was and where I wanted to be. It will help you grow a better business and think about how you can help build philanthropy and community giveback into your business.” – Stephanie McClenny on how the Culinary Grant Program helped her create her business plan.
Mark Rashap of The Illuminated Bottle and 2017 Culinary Grant Recipient recently invited our Executive Director Mariam Parker to take over last week’s episode of KOOP 91.7’s Another Bottle Down, Austin’s own talk show about every facet of the wine industry, from winemaker to sommelier and everything in between.
Parker discussed all things food and wine with a few of her friends below!
If you missed last week’s episode, you’re in luck because Parker will be taking over another episode this upcoming Tuesday! She’ll be chatting with:
Chef Amanda Rockman from South Congress Hotel
Veronica Meewes from Andrew Harper & Well Fed Life
Catherine Armstrong Stiles from Barbecue Wife
Mandi Nelson from European Cellars
Paula Rester Salinas from La Corsha Hospitality Group
Tune in on KOOP 91.7 or at Another Bottle Down this Tuesday at 1:00 PM!