The winter is an extreme example of the courage it takes to be a farmer.
Right now it’s hard to imagine anything growing in New England. It’s early March and it feels as if it has snowed every single day. Right now there’s a violent sleet outside the window that does not make the outside world a very appealing place. Two weeks ago we were in the midst of a record breaking blizzard. New Hampshire missed the brunt of the storm, but it was a reminder. It’s not until late April that we’ll finally get a lasting relief.
Well before then the farmers have already ordered and planted their first seeds.
Despite the odds, there are more local farms starting every year. Independent farming is a renewed calling. Fresh ground is being broken. A community has formed and continues to grow, of inarguably courageous people. A local courage culture.
When I use the term “local courage,” this doesn’t just apply to farmers. Granted without them there is no community, but without community there are no farmers. Or, far fewer. “Local courage” is an attribute shared by those farmers, their employees, their activists, volunteers, and equally as important, the people who choose to buy locally.
Buying local is important. It takes courage.
Our economy is struggling, yet supermarket prices are incredibly low. Local farmers don’t reap the same benefits from government subsidies as factory farms. Using humane and sustainable practices costs more, causing the consumer to pay more and the farmer to make a smaller profit. It takes courage to buy a similar product for more money.
Our world is fast paced, and we don’t have the same relationship with the kitchen that we once did. It takes courage to change that relationship. In any relationship, patience and time are key ingredients. The same is true with a successful farm. Farm fresh food goes hand in hand with an intimacy with your kitchen.
Our food culture is grossly skewed. It takes courage to change widely embraced habits. It takes courage to eat more veggies, and less meat. It takes courage to eat more fruits, less refined sugar. It takes courage to walk into the market ready for whatever the weeks harvest has to offer, and figure it out from there. It takes courage to change.
We know it’s not easy. The farmers know that, too. However, they’re putting themselves out there for something they believe in. A community can sustain itself only if it is willing to make the effort. This is a journey of local courage.