Local Gratitude: Week #13 – 9/1/21
One of the crew members on our farm, Sam, has begun their own small scale farm this season. Today in the fields they were asking me about some of my opinions regarding the local food movement and what I think needs to be done to keep cultivating and growing that value in our community.
It got me thinking and I wanted to share some of those ideas with you.
As a small-scale local organic farmer, I got into farming because it was a way I could work towards a cleaner, healthier environment. Growing food in ways that is better for our bodies and the planet seemed like a direct way I could contribute. On a small scale, we are doing a better job than conventional growers at protecting our soil, the biodiversity that depends on it, our water quality, and our air quality. We produce healthy food that ends up on your plates with very few miles on it. All these things are very important to me and are the reason I work so hard farming. Harvesting cabbage awaits me this afternoon, and I can tell you that hoisting heavy crates of cabbage out in the heat is NOT something I would choose to do if there weren’t a very important reason to do so. I farm because I care about our environment and the world we are leaving to those that come after us.
A couple of years ago, I was trying to revamp our website and do a better job of communicating what our farm does to consumers at large. To do this, I asked for members to volunteer their time to answer questions about why they support of farm and what that experience is like for them. And because our membership is awesome, so so many people did!
Before I did the calls, I imagined that many people joined our farm because of its environmental impact. I was wrong. Over and over again, I heard that the environment was not why people support our farm. Yes it was a factor for many members, but it was never the main reason someone supported us. Members like Crossroads because the quality of the food is so high that you can taste the difference. They support local food not so much as an anti-capitalist pro-local economy reason, but because local produce simply tastes better. The food is harvested at its peak, not at the point at which it can survive a semi-truck ride across the continent. There is more flavor, more value, higher quality in our food compared to what can be sourced at a regular grocery store. And buying food directly from us makes it more affordable than buying it from a store like Willy St.
While I was happy to learn that our farm has succeeded as a business in the capitalist marketplace, the interviews actually let me feeling ready sad.
I grow food to change the world.
It was hard to hear that people don’t support us for that reason necessarily.
And that discovery begged (and begs still) the question, how do we cultivate a sense of environmental responsibility in our local food movement. It’s great that we are winning on taste and flavor, but I believe that there needs to be something more foundational undergirding our members’ decision to support us if this movement is to survive.
The pandemic has shown us local farmers in a very real way that when immediately threatened by global systems failing and food not reaching shelves, they will turn to local. But that turn to local was fleeting and not lasting.
As a busy farmer, whose skill set is very much the production and selling of vegetables, I have no idea how to really go about building a deeper sense of understanding about the importance of local organic agriculture.
The only place I can think of to start is to communicate its importance to you.
Supporting our local organic farm because the food tastes amazing is a wonderful reason to support us. But perhaps we can begin laying the foundation of the importance of supporting local organic food together. Maybe that’s something I can help teach you about.
As your teacher, I want to start our first lesson by letting you know that YOU are participating in systemic change work. By supporting a local organic farm, you are supporting an entire movement that is working towards a cleaner environment, cleaner bodies, and fairer work standards. With every plate of food you create from this farm, you are supporting a different kind of future, a new way to value and create food.
This is so important! So… thank you thank you for supporting local organic agriculture. We know you have lots of options of where you could source organic food, and so we are grateful you have chosen this way to accomplish that goal.
As we move forward this season, I might try to break down a little more thoughtfully why organic AND local is such an important combination. Meanwhile, if any of you members out there have come across media that has been influential or informative to you surrounding these ideas, please share them with me so I can share them with others!