Rejoining the Local Food Movement


Sabbatical. Defined literally is a ceasing or rest from work. While the meaning of the word is easy to understand, actually experiencing such a break from work is nearly unheard of in our fast-paced culture. In this day and age, few employers offer a paid, one month sabbatical, but lucky for me, my employer, Joie de Vivre Hospitality, offers this as a standard benefit to their managers. In my first three years of employment with Joie de Vivre, I have opened and managed the sales, catering and marketing efforts of The Citizen Hotel and Grange Restaurant & Bar in what can easily be defined as the worst economy in my lifetime. A break sounds fantastic!

While many of my coworkers are planning travels to exotic locations with their extended breaks, I am taking a different path. The small farm I grew up on in Western Placer County has fallen into disrepair over the years. The sheep we raised for nearly 20 years are all gone and the original barn on the property that has housed cattle, horses, turkeys and chickens now houses the local deer herd. Looking to past generations to provide a model of how families can live and work together, my parents, my husband and I began to breathe life into these 12 acres once again. And as we worked, one weekend at a time, it became clear that a substantial chunk of time was necessary to kick start this project. So, for the one glorious month that I cease working in the city, I will focus my time, energy and muscles on farm work.

The American family farm has been in decline for decades. But now the local food movement is taking hold. People want to be in touch with where their food comes from or have access to the varieties of beans, greens, berries and grains they’ve tasted at their favorite restaurants. They want the tomato they recall from their grandfather’s garden that is nowhere to be found in their local grocery store. And if they can’t grow it themselves, they want to know the farmer who did it for them. People want to experience agriculture, not only as food, but as entertainment.

On Memorial Day weekend I started working alongside family, friends and neighbors to create the basis of our new endeavor. I will blog and photograph my sabbatical, which lasts through Fourth of July, recording the ups and downs of rebuilding The Lamm Farm.

Amy Dempster is director of sales at The Citizen Hotel, a Joie de Vivre Hotel. You can find more information about The Lamm Farm here.