As we work to try to get the word out about our John Primmer Surgery Support Fundraiser ($1,300 down and $8,700 to go, see link on our Facebook or website) we learned about these two programs that support food access and education in our area are in the running for a Seeds of Change grant of up to $20,000. You can vote daily until 4/18. Entries with the most votes move to the judging stage. Vote for them both!
Friends of Hiland Hall Gardens' Seed to Plate Educational Program:
The Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market to expand their market capacity & increase access to healthy food for residents: https://seedsofchangegrant.com/GalleryDetail.aspx?id=1600
We here at Wildstone Farm are very grateful to be a part of the community that we are. Though John and Joy live and farm in Vermont, their roots began in the Berkshires until they found land in Vermont. This tri-state region that we live in is very much one large community. It is humbling when someone complements us on our produce, or offers their help us in some way. Though we have been active in the local farming community for almost 30 years, and are a constant fixture at the Bennington Farmers' Market, we began farming before the days of websites and social media. People heard about us perhaps through a friend (still a great way to hear about anything) or from something in the local paper.
Sometimes when I (Silvia), mentions that I work and occasionally help at a farm in Pownal, people haven't heard of Wildstone Farm, and have heard of Lisa's much newer farm in Pownal. As farmers both farms have the same goal of providing food to the community (families, individuals, seniors, schools, restaurants, grocers, etc), but the scale and method to meet that ends are different. Each farm is alike, yet unique. Our presence on the web started in 2008 or 9 when I told John and Joy they need to be searchable online if they ever wanted more CSA customers or people to know about them in this day in age. Being self-professed luddites, they agreed as long as I made it. They now have an semi-functioning laptop and a real email address, we are on our third website, and I think John even taught himself how to use Facebook. Farmers really are a master of all (there was a great article about this recently that I can't find anymore!).
We feel so grateful that people feel the same way about farming in our community as we do. Though our way of getting folks to hear about our farm haven't used online media until recent years, we think it's important that our COMMUNITY in this region has this diverse mix of farmers that specialize in similar yet different things, get what they offer to the community available in different ways, and work to educate the community that supporting local agriculture is the key to future health of yourselves, the community, and farmers in your community.
There is a great excerpt in Wendell Berry's "Long Legged House" (see link to book, or find it at your local bookstore or library) and the part I really like is a page or two after this one, but this stood out to me:
"A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other's lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves."
As a community we share ideals and if we truly are connected to our community, we want to do what is best as a whole. It is hard to ask for money as we are with John's surgery support campaign. All other kinds of options, advice, and thoughts are executed first. It seems impersonal to ask for money online these days, but so many people have been able to get back on their feet by using crowdsourcing fundraisers. What did people do when they needed help back in the day? Well they were more connected to their neighbors. Maybe walked next door? Polly told Susie, who told Bill? That still happens, and though we are in a digitized world, it still doesn't take away from the community if we use technology to add value and create and sustain connections. We share this place- it's land comprised of forests, trails, bodies of water, and land to farm. We all are responsible for nurturing it, learning about it, helping it where it needs it, and in turn it provides us with nourishment.
After having worked for John and Joy back in 2008, my land ethic started feeling fuller. I have a conservation and recreation management background, and have worked monitoring a few wilderness areas, so I have a fairly defined land ethic as it is. I started making more conscience decisions about where I bought my food, and the concern about how far it traveled started to bother me. When I went and moved to the Eastern Sierra, close to the land owhere lots of produce in America comes from I thought I'd have access to lots of reasonably priced produce (avacados, were super affordable). I drove through miles of almond groves on our way to San Francisco listening to mariachi music and later read about the horrible water quality in those areas due to the farms. I dated someone who's father farmed produce at large scale and made the mistake of commenting while making a salad, "did you know baby carrots are just carrot rejects that have been shaved down?" which he took as an insult. It was something I'd never really thought about until I worked on a farm. All I'd ever thought about is that baby carrots tend to get either too slimy or too dry and white if you don't eat them fast enough and that was gross.
In Mammoth Lakes, friends of mine were involved (still are and one is from VT) in a regional CSA where they source and collect the produce from the few farms in the widespread, difficult to farm area surrounding by public land in a volcanic soil, high desert climate (But dang, imagine if the geothermal greenhouse ever happens). This town had one grocery store that was the most expensive Vons in California, and a health food store that had the best dehydrated bulk backpacking food I've EVER seen, but the produce wasn't always the best, and the Farmers' Market left me missing Vermont. The Farmers' Market in Minden, NV only had one organic grower and she grew strawberries, which conventionally are a pesticide mess. There was a fruit stand that actually had a sign that read, "Apricots Taste Like Apricots" and the vendors weren't that friendly. It was all about the quick sale.
So here I am, back in Southern Vermont after three busy years working along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail that runs through our community being one with the Long Trail, trying to feel part of this community I grew up in again. I've always had my ski community in winter, or my seasonal work friend community. I love my Trail Community, but the Farm Community and the local agriculture community is one I missed and haven't felt entirely integrated into since I've been somewhat of an agricultural moonlighter. Sometimes when I put on a pair of my hiking boots or my worn down muck boots I feel like I'm playing an important part of both worlds- afterall, dirt unites us all.
Photos are of my communities and here is the link to
Wendell Berry- Long Legged House