Help a food community

I live on the West Coast of Canada.  I buy my produce and meat in two on farm shops locally, and at the farmers market during the summer.  While I do buy some things direct from the farmer, like a side of pork occasionally, for the most part, I appreciate the convenience offered by the market and the two farm shops.  Each of the shops sells primarily their own produce, but will sell other products on consignment from other growers.  It’s a win for everyone that way.

Through the blogosphere, I’ve “met” many other farmers, food producers, and local food advocates.  One such is the blogwriter for the Wildramp Market, way the other side of the continent from me, in Huntington, West Virginia.

Why would a small market out in WV be interesting to anyone outside that area?  Because we’re all on common ground.  Local, sustainably produced food, available and accessible to everyone – isn’t that the goal of so many of us in the business of local food?

Wildramp Market is a great model with a ton of potential for duplication.  The market is run by volunteers, and product is supplied by local farmers and food producers – it can and does change from week to week with the seasons.  There’s a lot of heart and soul, time and energy going into that little market, and success is snowballing.

To that end, they’ve entered into a fundraising challenge, hoping to be able to develop some needed infrastructure (like a cooler).  They’re in the last few days of their fundraising effort, and only need about $300 to meet their modest goal.  They’re not asking for millions.  Just a few dollars here and there from people who want local food to be in the shopping baskets of the average consumer.  If, like me, you’re one of those people, check out the link below, and read Wildramp’s story in their own eloquent words.  I donated a few dollars a couple of weeks ago, and have watched the balance of pledges growing steadily every since.  Go check out the link.  Kick in a few bucks.  Help the cause of local food.

Just an Ordinary Day

Do you know the song Ordinary Miracle that Sara McLachlan sings in the movie “Charlotte’s Web”?  It felt like that kind of day.

We had  a fairly dramatic lightning storm last night – all the more exciting because we can go a couple of years here without getting any lightning at all.  When I got up this morning, the difference was so dramatically different – the air felt light, and everything sparkled from the rain in the night, yet the sky was clear and the sun was set to shine all day.

courtesy of Peninsula Country Market

We went up to our local farmers market around 9 am; the girls went straight to the 4-H booth to get breakfast buns, my husband and I made our way to our favourite veggie farmers, and picked up some cukes and tomatoes (he has plans to make a giant greek salad to last all week), spinach, carrots, green oinions and broccoli.  I’m out of bread and flour, so bought bread from the Bread Lady, a lovely woman who’s been selling bread at the market for 10 years.  We also found a guy selling pasture raised beef, in conversation I learned I’d read the pioneer history his mother had written about their farm – we bought some beef for kebobs later in the week.  We stopped to chat with Rozy, who now makes 40 kinds of jam, jelly, chutney, and preserves, all this with 2 children under the age of 4.  I buy from her quite a lot in the winter, so didn’t pick up anything today, but we got to catch up a bit.  When we were leaving, our favourite pig farmer (remember the sausages that came to the bbq last week?) was just arriving – more hugs and news sharing.  I seldom get to this market anymore – for the last 5 years I have worked Saturdays, so these last two Saturdays it has been wonderful to get up there myself, instead of leaving a list for the others when they go up without me.

At home, our Random Photographer and my husband went off to work, and my younger daughter and I set to some housework and then headed out to give the chicks a housecleaning too – dumped and scrubbed all the waterers, added new bedding, adjusted fans, etc.  Work always goes so much better with company!  At some point a neighbour phoned to ask if we’d lost a turkey.  We’re not raising turkeys, and said so.  Apparently a bronze breasted turkey showed up in their yard this morning.  We both phone around and no one claimed it.  She’s half hoping no one will claim it – she’s put it in with her chickens for now.  I don’t chat with her too often, so it was nice to catch up.

courtesy of Victoria Friends Meeting

In the afternoon, my husband and I headed into town for the wedding of his business partner and her husband to be.  The wedding took place at the Quaker Meeting House, a designated historic building which was built in 1913 (that’s old here).  I had not experienced a Quaker meeting before, but had done a bit of reading to prepare.  It was probably the quietest, most peaceful wedding I have ever attended.  We sat in silence for about 15 minutes, then the bride and groom stood and made promises to each other, and exchanged rings.  More silence, then anyone who wished could stand and say whatever they felt moved to say, or in one case sing, for the couple.  Many people did so – one recited a poem, one gave the Irish Blessing (the bride is Irish), others spoke about love and so on.  After another brief silence, the married couple introduced their families – most of whom had come some distance.  That pretty much ended the meeting, and we were all invited to stay for refreshments in the garden.  In addition, everyone attending was expected to sign the wedding register (not a legal document) as witnesses to the vows the couple had made to each other.  This will hang in their home as a reminder.

The time in the garden was amazing – the Friends (Quakers) mingled easily and confidently, introducing themselves, chatting, putting all of us at ease.  And in the way of gardeners the world over, when I admired the veggie garden (shared by 2 of the Friends), I came away with little bags of seeds of this and that…and a reminder that if they “take” I must pass on seed to someone else.   Eventually, it was time for the “other” reception – a wonderful buffet dinner held at the Faculty Club at the University.  We were assigned to sit with the family from New Zealand, somewhere I have always wanted to go, so it made my day almost complete.  My charming dinner companion was Ella, aged 6, who chatted in a very composed way about earthquake drills at school, winter in her part of NZ, and her love of shellfish (she went for thirds on the mussels and shrimp).  We had to leave before the cake cutting – younger daughter was at Random Photographer’s housesitting place watching a movie with her sister, so no one was home to turn off fans, top up waters etc for the chicks, who had been on their own for hours.

Back home, I slipped my aching feet out of my dress sandals and into my work boots, took the dog for a much needed stretch in the field and shut in the hens, collecting eggs in my  “best” skirt at the same time.  My husband tucked the chicks in, and as I unpegged the laundry my younger daughter had hung out earlier in the day, I watched the darkness creeping over the fields, the orange deepening behind the hills around us.  We stood on the porch together – dog, husband and I, and contemplated all the good things in the day.

My grandfather, who lived to 102 and had a phenomenal memory, once told me that it was the ordinary days that make the best memories later in life.  He’s been proved right so many times.  This was one of those ordinary days,  the colours and sounds and peacefulness of which I hope I remember forever.