This Saturday, May 21, at 9:00 a.m., the ribbon will be cut to officially open Bounty of the Barrens Farmers’ Market for 2011. The market is now on the lawn of the Barren County Court House on Saturday mornings.
Three years into Sustainable Glasgow’s efforts to make Glasgow better by reinforcing the local economy, we are proud of what we have accomplished with Bounty of the Barrens Farmers’ Market, but we have only begun the work of building the durability of our economy, starting with our food system.
In a world where our drive to build a sustainable local food economy, starting with locally grown food at our outdoor market, is challenged at every turn by the marketing might, convenience, and momentum of the big box supermarket system of feeding ourselves, the volunteers at Sustainable Glasgow are largely outgunned. Still, we continue to fight against the odds. We love our community and we are convinced that the future of local food production is indistinguishable from the future of the land in Barren County, which, in turn, is not distinguishable from the future of our community as a viable place to live out our years in peace and happiness (Thanks Wendell Berry for pointing this out to us!).
Obviously this task is too daunting for a handful of Sustainable Glasgow volunteers to pull off alone. This is a job for us all, that is all of us who have decided to put down roots in this community and make it the place we dream of. We need everyone’s work and the intelligence of the collective. You do not have to win an election to participate in this transformation, you only need to find what part you have the skills, or resources, to play.
Here is what must be done.
Grow. Barren County is rich in fertile farm land. Right now our high schools are graduating hundreds of bright young folks who are looking for their mission in life. These two ingredients should be combined and nurtured by sunlight and support from “we the people who like to eat.” The opportunity is obvious. Many studies are now predicting that the long term value of many college degrees is not worth the cost. We need more local folks growing food for local folks on local farms.
Study. We are sensitive to what we gaze upon with our eyes and what we listen to with our ears. Why then are we so flippant about what we swallow? Don’t take our word for it. Read the label of something in a box in your freezer. Does it sound like the ingredients to a chemistry experiment? If you want to purchase less medicine, eat more local food and less things with more than four ingredients. That leads one to real, local, food instead of fake food-like substances. A good variety of real food is available at Bounty of the Barrens Farmers' Market.
Innovate. Rebuilding our food economy from the ground up does not just mean planting more vegetables in Barren County soil. A few visits to Bounty of the Barrens Farmers’ Market will reveal scores of other opportunities for someone looking to improve their lot, as well as the community. Watch the mad rush to purchase the very limited supply of cold pasteurized milk from JD’s County Milk and you will have to wonder why no Barren County dairy farmer has yet replicated that idea and product. Dare to come between local market patrons and the supply of peaches from the Jackson’s Orchard truck and it is obvious that more locally grown fruit will find a market here. A commercial kitchen operation would allow local producers to cook, can, and otherwise process their bounty when there is much and sell it the rest of the year. Opportunities abound for those who are looking for them.
Participate. Just show up at the market and become a part of it. Not sure if you even like vegetables enough to shop at the market? No problem, come and listen to the pure sounds of local musical artists who love the community so much that they just want to share their talents with us. Sit in the grass and give them an audience. It costs you nothing yet means everything to the artists. Mill about and chat with your neighbors and drink in the free milk of human kindness. Be late for soccer practice. Miss a few cartoons. Gain a new relationship with this place we call home.
Stick. This is the very easiest way to become a part of this movement. Just resist the urge to travel to Bowling Green, Louisville, Nashville, or farther, to acquire your food or other needs. Gasoline is $4 per gallon. Big box retail stores, even if they are called Kroger or Whole Foods, might suit your personal desire for nutrition, but nurture our home place they do not. Rejoice in the uniqueness of the local vendors at our market and while you are there soak in the pure joy of dining in a locally owned restaurant around the Square like Fine Arts Bistro or George J’s. For some added spice to your Saturday morning adventure, walk or bicycle to the market and leave the SUV at home! Free yourself from the wanderlust and siren song of the distant corporation and celebrate the joy of localism.
Together we can continue our progress toward a sustainable economy by uniting local land, local sunlight, local intelligence, and local work. Will you pick one or more of these tasks and join us?