After completing our 14th story we decided it was time to take a step back and reflect on what we had created with Southern Terroir (www.southernterroir.com). We asked some soul-searching questions: What are we doing this for? Whose stories are we telling and why? Who do we want to share these stories with, and what do we hope to inspire in them? Perhaps most importantly – are we prepared to continue with Southern Terroir and, if so, is it ready to grow? Is Southern Terroir ready to be published in some printed form?
We gave these questions time to ferment. We looked around at the Southeastern bioregion we call home. We talked to people we know, and those we met, about Southern Terroir. We met more producers, processors, and purveyors who are defining what Southern Terroir is all about – a new definition, one we create together. We asked the Universe, God, Mother Earth for a message, a sign…and this is what we learned from stepping back:
These stories of Southern Terroir need to be told. Keep telling them to more people.
When we launched this blog in 2012, one of our main inspirations was the book Terra Madre (Mother Earth) published by Slow Food International under the guidance of its president/founder Carlo Petrini. He described it as a book “which recounts the small gestures of thousands of producers in harmony with nature and the environment…the instrument to make this extraordinary reality known.” Terra Madre is a compilation of fact sheets documenting more than 1,600 food producers/communities around the world, 700 of which are “Presidia” (fortresses) intended to protect traditional foods in danger of extinction, mostly because they are not well-suited to our increasingly industrial food production systems.
We were inspired so much so that we said “yes” – we know some of those producers right here in our backyard, and we would like to meet them, talk with them, visit their operation, take pictures, and produce fact sheets so their stories can be shared as well.
There are many, many more producers in the states we have covered (South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia) – artisans working with the land to produce regionally-distinct foods and crafts. There are many, many more producers in Southeastern states we have not covered yet (West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi). Who are they? The tropical fruit smoothie makers. The pine-straw basket weavers. Fig jam makers. Carolina rice growers. Herbal tea growers. Heritage, pastured pork raisers. Wood carvers. Sauerkraut fermenters. Muscadine juicers.
We are also inspired to tell stories of Southern Terroir from Caroline’s homeland – France. What can we learn from producers, processers and purveyors in the south of France about their terroir? Who are the people carrying on ancient food and craft traditions and connections to the land? Goat cheese makers in the southern Rhone valley. Olive oil mills in the Languedoc region. Lavender soap makers in Provence. Wool weavers in the Pyrenees. What can they learn about our terroir from their counterparts in the southern US?
We are ready to take our next steps and hope you will take them with us, and help spread the word! Look for our inspiring new upcoming posts -- one great story each month (instead of our previous bi-weekly schedule), and please share them widely via your networks.
We are also excited to be planning an annual, full-color PRINTED version of Southern Terroir! Stay tuned for more information as we raise funds for publishing. We want to make sure readers have the opportunity to hold these stories in their hands as tangible evidence of terroir throughout the American South, and the South of France.
Please join us as we continue the journey of Southern Terroir, and help us to find and share our next stories!