Monday, July 13, 2020

Lean into Community: Local Farms

We'll see if this actually turns into a series but I wanted to start talking about leaning into community. To me, this pandemic, among other things, has increased my awareness of the importance of community and not just in a fluffy way. We are all so intertwined in our communitites whether we are actively "involved" or purposely try not to get involved. Our actions, our involvement and our dollars spent here (or wherever you are) help to shape the environments in which we live, to some extent.  One of the biggest and impressive steps that our family, and a lot of other families in my area, has taken is to throw our full support behind local farmers and food providers.

Now I am going to be talking specifically about Springdell Farms in Littleton, MA (and a handful of other farms/stands are included in this) but I know that your community has offerings like this as well... you just have to look! In just a matter of months, we have moved to a meat share and a Summer CSA (with a Winter share on the docket). Our family's goal was to see the majority of our food, especially during the Summer, come from a local source. I mean, I still have to buy my Diet Coke (don't judge) and Graham Crackers somewhere but I wanted the majority of our food to be locally sourced if at all possible.

This plan has many reasons. Knowing where your food comes from is a big one. I love seeing the fields full of green, or the tomatoes ripening or my boys picking berries for themselves, sometimes leaving their shoes and masks in their wake lol. It's a really good feeling, to be honest. Knowing your farms and farmers is amazing. Jamie and her team at Springdell might not grow everything themselves but they bring in amazing items from all over New England. Our most recent obsession is the pudding from Echo Farms in Hinsdale, NH that Jamie brings in for our farm. My kids love picking it up weekly with our CSA share and something about that just seems special to me. Like my dream is to have my kids remember annual berry picking and share pickups. Doesn't that just seem nice? I like being able to show them in one of the simplest ways, how we are a part of our local community.

For a family that eats meat, it's also really important to know that our consumption is as healthy for our world as possible. My husband and I had been talking about it for quite some time and we finally jumped in on a year meat share, deciding that it was more important for us to know where our farm animals were living and how they were being cared for... and since May we haven't bought any meat from the grocery store, instead experimenting with what surprises we get in our monthly share. You might think that the meat share is more expensive but with the rising prices in the grocery store, especially due to Covid and meat processing plants,  it actually hasn't been that much more so. And we can feel good about the support/money that is staying local.

Our farm, and many others like it, have created a space that's welcoming to families and their neighbors. When the pandemic "hit" in March, our local spot opened up early and brought in pantry items for people to grab from the open air stand. This felt safer and when a lot of people were afraid to go into grocery stores, Springdell was providing the service our town needed. Since the beginning, solid communication has been coming from Springdell Farms about their offerings, what they're doing for our farming community, what other farmers and vendors are popping up and plans for the future.

Jamie hasn't been shy about posting about the offers to buy her land and the farm. I would assume that her situation isn't special and that other farmers are getting similar offers. Developers all over New England are looking at local farms and wondering how much they could build, sell and turn a profit on that very land... and it makes me sad. If we don't support our local farms (and other small businesses), they will no longer be, it's just as simple as that. I don't want to live in a world where we value factory farms, especially for meat, and let our world become more developed and environmentally unstable in the process. It's just not something I want, and you shouldn't either. But I'm not here to scold you. I'm here to encourage you.

When we talking about leaning into community, there can be so many ways to do this. Visiting your local farms and farmer's markets, is one amazing (and quick) way to send a jolt of support right into your local economy and community. I encourage you to find a farm stand in your area right now because we are in one of the best seasons of the year for amazing produce, veggies, homemade items and fresh offerings. You'll thank me when your dinner table has amazing corn, friggin' delish squash, tomatoes and blueberries that won't last two days in your house. Plus, you'll just feel good about it, too. I promise.

How else can I talk about leaning into community that makes sense right now?

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