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Building Our Communities Through Food

February 23rd, 2014

We can feed our hunger for connection by eating seasonally and also by buying directly from small farmers at the farmer’s market. Forming relationships with the people who grow our food, and taking up opportunities to visit their farms, is a healing practice. It is important for the farmers as well. The majority of small farmers are not in it for the money – farming is no longer lucrative. They do it because they have a love of independence, because they love working with the land, and often because they believe in building a food system that is based on relationship. They get immense satisfaction when their customers take an interest in their farming practices and in how and why they grow their produce.

Jessica Prentice – Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection
farmers market
As I was at the farmers market on Friday morning I was thinking about why buying local is so important to me. It’s about a lot of different things, including health, but most importantly, it’s about directly supporting small farmers and producers in my community.
farmers market 1
farmers market 2
farmers market 3
Waterville market 5
The truth is that many things I buy at the market could be grown in my garden, now that I have more than enough space, but I want to invest in the local food web not just for myself, but for others who can’t grow their own. I want to get to know the person nurturing the chickens that produce the meat I purchase for our cats and dogs. I want to chat with the lady who makes the cheese.  It’s very important to me to encourage those that have taken on the burden of growing good healthy food for those in their community even before they had customers to purchase them.
Belfast Farmers Market 5
Waterville market 4
Belfast Farmers Market 3
Personally, I believe we’re heading down a dangerous path with our food in this country. Far too many people are expecting the government to draft legislation for the changes they want to see happen with the food system. What it really takes to spur change is for people to put their money where their convictions. We’ve chosen to invest in our community and it’s good to know that there are others out there like us. I know that should anything ever happen the folks at the local farm will continue providing milk for those of us who purchase from them. We won’t have to worry about not having cash to pay for it. They in turn know that if they ever need our help, we’re willing to step up as well. This is what community is all about and I’m certainly happy that we embarked on this road a few years ago, it certainly has been rewarding!

Are there any changes you’ve made in your life over the past couple years that you’re starting to see the rewards from?

9 Comments to “Building Our Communities Through Food”
  1. Ilene on February 23, 2014 at 7:40 am

    Well said. I saw a long-time farmer being interviewed on the news a couple nights ago, and he talked about how the numbers of farmers are dwindling. Fewer young people are choosing farming as a way of life and the old ones are dying out. He said something that really hit me, about how before long all the farms will be owned by corporations, doctors and lawyers and they will hire people like him to operate them.

    There was a movie many years ago called “Soylent Green”. It was meant to be entirely fictional but it is seeming more and more like some of the things that were happening in that movie then could be reality in the near future. Scary.

    Reply to Ilene's comment

  2. Marina C on February 23, 2014 at 8:10 am

    The first thing we did is more from suburbia to a rural area in VT. We ran an inn, were committed to the Vermont Fresh Network which means we were sourcing a large percentage of our food supplies locally.

    When we retired from the inn to NH, we started growing a substantial garden, joined a summer amd winter CSAs to supplement what we grow and to make a connection to our community farmers. We buy our meats, eggs and milk locally as well, from the farmers market and directly from the producer. We also buy yarn, wood products, hand made rugs, soaps and all our presents for weddings come from a great cutting board maker now.

    When I went to visit a friend in suburban Charleston NC, recently, I felt very insecure in an environment of imbalance between the size of the population and the food production. There are not enough local producers to suffice if there were a transportation or energy crisis.

    We love how our community comes together to help a local farmer, seriously injured while running to help another for a fire. Everyone is connected somehow to someone else, and often it is through food or goods sourcing.

    When I am here, I feel that my life is in balance, and that is the most important feeling to build one’s life around.

    Reply to Marina C's comment

  3. Jennifer Fisk on February 23, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Over the last few years, I have evolved pretty much into a localvore. Last week at the Belfast COOP, I chose not to buy a veggie from California but instead bought a substitute from Waldo County. I joined a fall CSA here on MDI. My freezer is full of home grown turkey, chicken and rabbit which has never been the case prior to this year. My source for beef and pork is Smith Family Farm 3 miles down the road and if they don’t have any it will be sourced from a farm in Waldo, Hancock or Washington County. I also buy Smith or Tide Mill raw milk. Locally raised and organic is important to me.
    The biggest thing I’ve done is to install a Bison Pump on my well so I have access to my water. I’m not a Prepper but there is always the chance something will cause the power grid to go down. I remember the East Coast Blackout in 1965 and there were no computer hackers or terrorists back then. Heck, it came in handy during the December Ice Storm.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

    • Susy on February 23, 2014 at 9:40 am

      Very true, I sometimes wish the co-op offered more local options when it comes to produce. But that’s why I grow my own and go to the farmers market.

      We’re lucky that we have two wells, one with an electric well pump and an old hand dug well with a hand pump. Should we ever need to pump water we have the option. Though we’re getting a generator from a friend that will power our well pump.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Jennifer Fisk on February 23, 2014 at 3:25 pm

        I think, for the most part, the COOP does source locally if it is available. The choices that were from the west coast were very out of season for here.

        to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  4. Nebraska Dave on February 23, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Susy, building community, in my personal opinion, is the most important thing in life next to spiritual faith. Even in my Urban setting, a community of people are knit together in a way that I know would not hesitate to help each other if the need arose. I have already witnessed them in action a few times with snow removal for the single women, tree removal after storms, and emotional comfort after loss in their lives. I haven’t really gone to local farmer buying just yet. I’m in process of growing more but the “Mart” is just too close and lures me in with cheap foreign prices. Summer here brings out not only Farmer’s Markets in abundance but roadside stands every where. Unfortunately, most are not chemical free. The local Walmart does buy local produce during the summer months but again I suspect they are laced with chemical sprays.

    I have followed the mindset of the masses for practically all my life with cheap food prices over the counter. The last few years have shown me that the food system dangerously teeters on the brink of disaster. Supply and demand for food took an evil twist a couple of decades ago. People demanded cheap food and California, Florida, Texas, and even Mexico supplied it. The cheap oil transportation only encouraged the food supplied to travel thousands of miles to the consumer’s plate. It’s only a matter of time before the whole thing fails. Anyone with a few gray hairs of wisdom can see that.

    The only encouragement from this is the folks like your readers that are not preppers but are getting prepared for whatever lies ahead. It will be a brave new exciting world.

    Have a great local buying day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  5. Michelle on February 23, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    You make such a great and important point about local suppliers getting to know one another…and should anything go awry, still having those relationships and connections to help one another. Our local Farmer’s Market isn’t always so local…some seller’s coming from as far as Southern California (I’m in Northern Cal). So I don’t really consider it “local”…although much of it IS more local than grocery stores. Anyway…you’ve got me thinking about being more diligent in getting to know our local growers and suppliers…a beef company in the next town over comes to mind…I think I’ll pursue that one first. Now, to find someone to split a side of beef with me!

    Reply to Michelle's comment

    • Susy on February 23, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      I always make it a point to visit the farms I’m purchasing items from. Not only do I enjoy getting out and seeing how they do things, I think the farmers really enjoy having someone that cares about what they do and why they do it. I think to often farming is a lonely occupation. I’ve had nothing but great experiences when I head out to the farms that supply my food!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Joy Giles on February 23, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    I love having developed a market relationship with many of the farmers in our South Austin SFC farmers market. There is nothing better than chatting with the folks as they provide me with great protein and produce and I provide them with income . We trade recipes and sometimes samples of recipes we want the other to try, talk about the rain that either is or isn’t happening, etc.
    I am blessed.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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