Well, I have shifted to part-time as Process Control Engineer at Rowe Foundry. Apparently, this is a pretty unprecedented option I was given. I have referred to the foundry as being Christian and having Christian values before, but I truly get to experience it first hand now. And the security combined with opportunity for the food hub…priceless.
Today, my front yard looks like:
Notice the large quantity of boxes in the background? They are almost completely gone. The watermelon and cantaloupe are out of sight in this picture, but rest assured are/were out there. Our organic garden stuff is also out of sight, but it is out there also.
Prior to a webinar posted by the National Good Food Network, I would never call this a food hub. That is, until I learned of a food hub that started in a basement of someone’s home. With the very cool weather and some stacking in our kitchen, combined with our shade tree, we have garnered customers throughout our County and from across County lines. We have sold wholesale, retail, and have been able to make our first donations to the local food bank. In fact, I was able to tour the food bank and chat for a couple of hours about the vision last night. More on what can and cannot be done collaboratively will be known after August 12.
Farm to School: the first steps of making it a reality occurred yesterday, also. I spoke with the president of the school board, who also happens to be an owner at the foundry, and a synopsis was that he could not imagine anyone on the school board voting against Farm to School and School Garden activities. They have a greenhouse that literally just sits there. Our agricultural program has, well…I will use the word diminished, over the years. Again, there are a couple other people to speak with in the next couple of weeks. However, this is the most hopeful local experience I have had with farm to school to date.
I spoke with our city clerk at what was probably a less than opportune time, yet it has become clear that a vested interest on the municipal end does exist. A couple of the City Council members have also heard bits and pieces of the idea and are more than receptive. In fact, one of yesterday afternoon’s customers, the father of a classmate and friend, visited more than once to talk about the vision. Presentation ready? No. Baby steps toward a public-private cooperative? Yes.
Next steps: First, meet with those I have been referred to for both the school and the food bank. Second, connect with the 501(c)3 called Martinsville on the Move. There is an open storefront between City Hall and a resale shop operated by the contact person for Martinsville on the Move. I see enormous potential in the location, but at this moment it is nothing more than an idea.
Today, the next step is to go out and arrange/assess the always open produce stand in our front yard. Then I wake up my daughter so we can get ready to go to the Arthur Produce Auction again. Thanks to the APA and long time friends near Oaktown Indiana, we have been able to keep our sourcing within approximately 50 Miles. Traceability and source identification has been a breeze so far. I have been able to limit my purchases to either GAPs trained or third party certified growers also, thanks to the collaboration that made it possible for the APA growers to receive training.
There are missing links; I fear the local producers that are still trying to hold together our County Farmers Market may perceive a threat in our thriving stand… But many have heard the long term goals. I absolutely do not want to alienate my friends and like minded people in this process. However, although I have yet to make it to a local market this year, I have kept up with events. I believe the word struggling would fit, even prior to my decision to go forward with our front yard stand. I have yet to come up with any solid ideas on how to make a joint venture out of the food hub and farmers market… At least not any ideas that have been well received by all. For now, I think that all I can do is lead by example that babe static location works, and continue to network locally while hoping that others are not harmed by the activities. I will keep presenting the opportunity of collaborating in a retail / wholesale storefront. And I will have to keep reminding myself that it is impossible to make everybody happy all of the time. (But I can still try!)
I guess that is all for today’s ramble. Well, except for pointing out that I have now learned that what can be done in theory versus what can be done immediately do not always mesh. All conversations now include a “planning/ preparing for next year” clause! Who was the fool that said it was time to quit researching? Oh yeah, that was me. Boy was I wrong on that one; researching is a never-ending, very necessary step when one is trying to help bring a major positive change into reality.
I am living the dream. Until next time!