What we learned over the summer
As the opening season of Bounty of the Barrens Market winds down (we plan to fully operate the market through September), it is time for the members of Sustainable Glasgow, Inc. to review what we learned during our Saturday mornings spent at the market.
First of all, our belief that the region’s land, and our neighbors that farm the land, are capable of feeding us was confirmed. The forty-plus vendors that tended the soil and their booths at the market were perfect proof of that theory. Obviously we would need a lot more vendors, just like we would need a lot more local folks to become convinced of the value of eating locally and supporting the vendors who live here, to make it all work. But we clearly learned that having a sustainable food economy is possible.
Next, as mentioned above, we learned that it is going to be a lot more complicated than just establishing a place where vendors and consumers can meet for commerce on Saturday mornings to make real progress toward a sustainable food economy. We have to counteract decades of marketing by the big box retailers to awaken our neighbors to the dangers of over reliance on distant boards and stockholders for our daily bread. Way too many locals still think that their food comes from Wal Mart instead of from the miracles of soil and sun and the farm families that tend that soil under that sun. Education will take a very long time, but it is possible.
We also learned that most of the vendors that came to Bounty of the Barrens Market are eager to expand their operations and provide more local food, but they are stymied by the lack of available labor to support their expansion plans. This really came as a shock to all of us! When we are reading a steady stream of bad news about local employment during the week but then hearing local farmers lament the unavailability of labor to allow them to grow, well, we scratch our heads. There is a promise of expanded employment in this sustainability movement, but it is going to take a while to figure out how to get potential employees and motivated employers together. Still, we know it is possible to accomplish.
We learned a lesson about the abundant crop of local musical talent as well. For eighteen straight Saturday mornings, we were blessed with unbelievable local musicianship. These locals came for free. They brought their guitars and fiddles and banjos and keyboards. Many brought their own sound and amplification systems as well. Most of all they brought with them a love for their art and for their fellow man. They brought all of this along with a stunning portfolio of talent and passion. I was humbled each Saturday morning by their talent and love. We discovered that we can not only feed ourselves, we also possess the capacity to entertain ourselves! Why should we continue to leak our precious local treasure to neighboring communities for entertainment. We clearly have all the talent necessary for our needs right here at home. With the right cooperation and attention to detail, it is possible to continue this exhibition of local talent right through the Fall and Winter and trap tons of local entertainment dollars right here in our local economy.
Finally, we learned that our community is hungry for more “quality of life” improvements like Bounty of the Barrens Market. The team at Sustainable Glasgow has learned this lesson well. Locals want more opportunities like the market presented. They want to be able to commune with others in the neighborhood in the presence of local vendors and artists. They long for things like bicycle paths and lanes. They want more local businesses brimming with local products and local expertise. Our community spoke to us on Saturday mornings at the market, and we have planned a program of work for 2010 that will begin to address those wants and the other lessons mentioned above. Do you have other things you want from our community? Do you want to be a part of the solution and the provision of these wants? If so, join up with us at Sustainable Glasgow! We can use your help!
William J. Ray