Tomorrow I have the opportunity to speak to the Farmers Market Federation of New York at LaTourelle Inn and Spa about how our board works with our Market Manager. Just thinking about the points I am going to make, has forced me to think about how I have engaged in the local foods movement, and the progress that has been made in the last 18 months.
In the past two years, I have provided pro bono work (some design, some consulting, some both) to: MyerFarm Distillery, Redbyrd Orchard Cidery, Good Life Farm, Sweetland Farm, Tree Gate Farm, Stone Cat Cafe, MacDonald Farm, Wide Awake Bakery, Farmer Ground Flour, Regional Access, New York Foods, The Trumansburg Farmers’ Market, Central New York Cider Week, Forge Cellars, The Piggery to name a few. I am sure I am forgetting someone. It has been an amazing journey learning about these farmers, their farms, their livlihood, their focus and why they farm. I have learned that farmers may not all be born marketers, and that the perception that there is fairness in the world/ and in the local economy should be cultivated (to that, I believe that the market teaches us if we listen—to tune our products, product selections, and the work we do to be desirable….We just have to each listen, and hear). I have learned about the import of transportation, of distribution hubs wheither it is in the form of a weekly pick up or CSA, a pop up shop or a truck that delivers to a bigger area. I have learned about farming during a drought, and the sheer knife edge these farmers live on between the seed purchases to harvest with bugs, and water, and hail, and heat or lack thereof….defining success and financial disaster. I have learned that sometimes, just sometimes, I need to give my farmer friends a bit of rope to figure things out themselves, and in the same way, give myself permission just to take a little time and let things simmer and evolve. These are people who know about watchful waiting. They know about seasons and time. They know about light and darkness, heat and cold. These are people who will move greenhouses around on tracks to make sure their greens have the best source of light and heat to bring us delicate greens in the middle of March. These are passionate people who love deeply but because of their trust and collaborative make up, can be hurt as deeply as they love. These are people who do not mind getting dirty, working hard, and when possible, playing just as hard. They care about their apples, their greens, their flowers and boules and link it to a larger, more spiritual notion. Allison Usavage created a lovely film about Stefan Senders and David MacGuinness’ Wide Awake Bakery and captures this spirit that seems to be an overlay to the local food scene here, here is the vimeo link>
This work sometimes can be challenging…but the film shows the reward. To be able to drink from the same cup as these hard working people is an honor. And, to try the first fresh greens of spring, to taste Eric and Devas sublime sparking cider as delicate as a bite of apple, or see tiny Melissa get her massive horses, Randi and Betsy pull together for her, or taste Stefan’s wonderful hot bread made from Greg’s flour (Farmer Ground) which was ground from Thor’s wheat….Or to try Tony’s black beans…the circle is complete. One blessing after the next—from the farmer to the consumer and back to the lovely land we live in and on. The same birds sing to my farmers as they do to me. The same rain and snow come our way. It is all right here, right now. And we all live in it for now.