Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Buying Into The Local Food Movement
Last night I went to one of two events that I have been very excited about attending. Our town, like many, was very hard hit by the 'great recession' and still is reflecting double digit unemployment. You might think that the focus on local healthy food sources would have petered out in this environment. However, what has happened is that a number of organizations have made their missions to invest in and revitalize our community. I am honored to be part of one of them and was excited to hear in more detail the vast strides that others are making.
There were several very dynamic speakers discussing what we can do within our communities to support local business, educate our citizens, promote more small farmers, and create a sustainable food system that will drive a healthier population. You know, just a few easy things.
I think that a concept that was most encouraging was that of slow money. Beth Gehred from Slow Money Wisconsin was one of our speakers and highlighted how it is difficult for smaller enterprises, no matter how desirable or needed, to get off of the ground and start moving forward. Slow money matches individual investors with those needing financing. Sixty years ago, small town and local shoppes were the way of the world. People invested in their communities, not large corporate conglomerates that had little vested interest in the population. Co-operatives were one vehicle to accomplish this feeling of ownership. If you went into your local grocer, coffee shop, restaurant, you knew the owner.
The local food movement is no fad, it is something that continues to gain steam and it is our mission to make our community a showcase of this. Not only is creating a healthy food system and educated population the right thing to do, it will create jobs and drive our small town economy forward. I was so impressed by all of the information flying last night. This was a first step of many in getting all of these groups together, very informally, but it highlighted to me how important it is for all of us to come together and support one another, and not duplicate each others efforts. As I expressed this to B, he said something that in my mind perfectly fit the situation...."there needs to be someone to organize the community organizers." Yep, that is it. But what a good problem to have. There are so many who are ready willing and able to invest their time, effort, and passion in our community.
We are already small business owners and I left last night ready to grow our little farm to be one of those local farmers. I also left with the feeling that it is time to dig in further and make this happen. As Robert Beezat of SEED said, the next 60 years of food in this country is going to look vastly different that the last 60 years.