Viticulture is certainly farming, even though we tend not to call ourselves farmers. (I have heard Carl only occasionally talk about being a "grape farmer," which for some reason sounds strange...) Owning two vineyard properties, growing grapes, and turning those grapes into a consumable product does link us to our farming neighbors in many ways. In the spring of 2019 we were honored and surprised to be named York County's Outstanding Farm Family for that year.
My father's extended family in Iowa was a farming family; all four of his dad's brothers owned and worked farms there. I grew up with a deep appreciation for land and for farming. When Carl and I lived in State College and I was studying for my graduate degree, I began working at Tait Farm nearby. I did everything from picking basil, apples, and asparagus to helping bottle fruit vinegars and shrubs. When Tait's didn't have enough work for me one month, I became connected to Mount Nittany Winery, where I began working in the tasting room. Eventually Carl came on board there, became their winemaker, and the rest is our history.
Many of my fondest memories of working at Tait's were of working with my friend Sabine Carey. (I'll never forget the day I became the one and only person to ever flip the Tait Farm asparagus buggy--Sabine laughed so hard!) Sabine now runs Full Circle Farms in Penns Valley and is active in local, regional, and national organizations including Centre Markets (which could use our help currently, as they fundraise to buy a new delivery van) and Farm Aid.
Farm Aid is an amazing national organization which this year is celebrating 35 years of supporting family farms and farmers. Their annual music festival is certainly their highest-profile fundraising event, and for eight years Sabine has been one of their official photographers. I have really enjoyed seen her annual photography of Farm Aid legends such as Willie Nelson and Neil Young.
This year's Farm Aid concert will be held tomorrow evening (Saturday, September 26th) as a virtual event. The list of artists performing looks amazing.
This morning on ABC's Good Morning America, they did a nice segment about Farm Aid and a focus on small family farms. They produced some nice storytelling and a performance of the song "Colors" by Eric Burton and Jack Johnson.
Thanks to Sabine, who rounded up photos from family farmers whom she knows, Carl and I got to play a tiny part in the photo montage which played during the song. If you watch the song (which I recommend, because it's very cool), right near the end you'll see a split-second shot showing our photo on the screen outside the Times Square Studios.
So...we're not exactly famous, but we are happy to do whatever we can to support Farm Aid and the other wonderful family farmers who provide food--and wine--to their communities.