Today’s email comes to you from a chilly but gorgeous part of the world. I’m in Yorkshire, England with my family, here for my grandmother’s memorial. Margaret Carr passed away about a year ago, but due to COVID and Brexit (long story), we weren’t able to gather as a family to celebrate her life. On Wednesday, we will formally say goodbye and raise a glass to a life well lived.
My immediate family and I moved to the United States when I was seven, which limited how much time I spent with Granny Margaret, as she was affectionately known, although she was spritely enough to join us for a family trip to Vermont when we first moved over, and later to my high school graduation. She even took a tour of Athens, Georgia with me just before I went to University.
I have many memories of Granny Margaret, including a physical reminder of her house on my forehead – which split open on the staircase when I was chasing my brother around – but one of the most vivid, and relevant to this newsletter, is that she had a significant strawberry patch in her back garden. And yes, Granny Margaret made her own jam.
In speaking with people about growing, cooking, and preserving food, I find that many of us feel a strong connection to our grandparents. Unfortunately, these skills and lifestyles have become more difficult to carry on each day – there used to be public canneries all over Georgia, including a large one on Memorial Drive, none of which exist in the metro Atlanta area today. It is perhaps no surprise to see food waste at an all-time high.
I didn’t intend for Farmers Jam to be a living tribute to my grandparents – my grandfather on the other side of my family was heavily involved with sustainable agriculture in Northern Ireland – but life has a way of bringing things full circle. In many ways, it’s because we’ve broken these circles – or cycles – that leave us in the state we’re in today. Farmers Jam exists as a way to reconnect us to earth and to ourselves. And each jar of Strawberry Lemonade Farmers Jam is a reminder of how I first fell in love with strawberry jam -- from Granny Margaret.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. We all return to where we came from at some point. I am grateful to be here in Yorkshire with my family, and also here with you all on this journey to build Farmers Jam, growing food and relationships along the way.
With all of that said, a couple of housekeeping items. For starters, we’ll take a week off from this newsletter while I focus on family for the next few days. Plus, the algorithm is now sending me lots of stories about British agriculture – not exactly what you’ve signed up for!
In the meantime, we’ve got an episode of Farmers Jam Radio with Jamie Berger, who produced a documentary called The Smell of Money – it’s all about hog “farms” in Eastern North Carolina who are ruining the local economy, environment, and ways of life, especially for Black residents. It’s a shocking story that highlights the true cost of cheap bacon.