Premium Farmstead Cheeses, Condiments & Savories

20 Feb 2014 |Rappahannock News

Stonyman’s James leads Backyard Farming program

At Les Dames d’Escoffier’s “Celebrating Food! Ninth Salute to Women in Gastronomy” symposium next month in College Park, Md., Susan James, owner of Washington’s Stonyman Gourmet Farmer, will chair a program on Backyard Farming.

The international organization for women of achievement in the culinary profession hosts the biannual symposium March 8 at the University of Maryland, featuring more than 40 speakers in 16 sessions where participants can learn about cooking, food, food writing and food sources, including celebrated local chefs and other food professionals. Local celebrity chef Carla Hall, a “Top Chef” finalist and co-host of “The Chew” on ABC-TV, will be the keynote speaker.

James’ Backyard Farming program brings together experts and practitioners of beekeeping, intensive cultivation techniques that produce high yields on small plots for horticulture and home food supply, and backyard coop egg production. “The Facts of Backyard Farming Life” is meant to show how backyard farming offers an exciting range of innovation-driven agriculture at the leading edge of the DIY and local food movements. It provides valuable life lessons, puts superb food on the table, and can be an incubator for establishing agriculture-related livelihoods.

A farmer, trained cheese maker and owner of a local farm-based gourmet food business with locations ranging from the Blue Ridge to greater Washington, D.C., James is particularly interested in the impact that backyard farming can have on food sourcing and trends in local food consumption. She observes that more than ever before consumers are seeing that they have an increasing variety of choices for supplying food for the family meal.

“It’s terrific to see the interest in backyard farming from Les Dames d’Escoffier. Backyard growers have become a pillar in the local food movement and are likely to continue growing rapidly. Rather than creating competition, backyard farming and the DIY ag movement only stimulate urban and suburban dwellers’ interest in visiting rural areas like Rappahannock County,” she said.