It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?
Where to begin in all this. Hmmmmmmmm.
Well, I could talk about Slatington’s Blue Mountain Farm Market, our collaborative farm stand in the town where I was raised. A market staffed by enthusiastic food advocates, stocked by responsible, co-creating, wonderful growers and producers, supported immensely by the Borough where it lives, marketed by journalists and TV stations who have done an incredible job of spreading the word about this new and important project, and pieced together by a happily frazzled manager who keeps being visited by her former school teachers, principals, coaches, friends’ parents and old neighbors in the hours she scrambles to be present.
When I think about how lucky I am to be a part of such a welcomed endeavor, I am bowled over in gratitude. I see the rush of folks on Friday and Saturday mornings, so excited to have fresh, local, responsibly-grown vegetables and perennial flowers and all the well-sourced cheeses, honey, bread, coffee and other goods appear on our tables each weekend. These folks haven’t had a grocery store in their town for what’s approaching a year. We aren’t on that sort of scale, surely, but we’re clearly having an impact when you see how empty the tables are by the end of market day. People are listening, are learning, are making informative decisions about their diets and health and are coming to us.
I could talk about the Crooked Row CSA, about my fabulous veterans who drummed up support within their own communities to fill out the delivery spots, to create new ones with a core of interested co-workers and friends, and who volunteer to pull weeds and plant tomatoes on their days off. Who make me food with what I give them each week to give back to me. Who purchased my dear friends’ bread, coffee and kombucha shares as well as my vegetables. They save me, they have limitless patience with me, and they appreciate the work I put into this project. I cannot thank you or love you enough.
I could talk about the ridiculously great network of friends I have around me this year. Today my boyfriend and his kids spent the day weeding and planting. My parents are constantly mowing, weeding, watering, and my sister even got into the strawberry picking mood when she was home last. I grill with some of the best new growers in the area, and am catching chickens in the dark with The Wayfare Baker. I catch dinner and swap cheese and herbs with The Valley Milkhouse and spend multiple days of my week stopping by Red Cat and Willow Haven as we continue our adventures in collaboration. I laugh and enjoy my time with the other vendors at The Trexlertown Farmers’ Market. I dream about fields of organic grain and hay, food forests, perennial herb beds and accessible vegetables. I dream about food hubs and farmers’ co-ops and local food networks with these friends, and they don’t all think I’m crazy.
I could talk about my foray into educator this year. It isn’t a role I’m fully comfortable with, not yet, anyway, but one I’m moving into just the same. I spoke at a Bethlehem Food Co-Op meeting earlier this year – it’s one of the first times I addressed a crowd about my farm, mission and story. And then things started to unfold. I’ll be running an herb workshop at the huge Taste event in Bethlehem on July 24th. This Friday I’m hosting a Wild Food Walk with well-known forager Steve Hoog. I’m working on a series of DIY herb workshops with the Beleno Spiritual Healing Center, and the first is on growing your own tea herbs. I’m going to the PEX Festival with some good friends on a grant to set up an herb labyrinth and run meditative walks throughout the weekend.
Some of this is utterly terrifying if I think about it for too long. But with each impromptu interview and with each phone call, I gain a little confidence. I know my mission – it’s to feed people – and when I stick to that conviction, everyone and everything around me falls into place.
I could talk about the challenges of local food. Of the deep hope I have that all of you, in time, will come to see the necessity of stepping out of the comfort zone of the grocery store and its season-less vortex of readily-available foods. That the folks in this Valley who don’t come to markets and participate in CSAs or feel that deep, empowering need to buy local suddenly awaken to the importance of keeping their food dollars within their own community. That we as producers and growers are all so, so deeply satisfied with this part of our lives, but are still faced with the anxieties of marketing and educating and selling what we make and grow on top of our creating, and that’s where the stress kicks in.
Do you know how much we hope you come out each week? Can you feel our anticipation, our joy when you walk past our tables and ask about the season and fill your bags with what we have raised to feed your family? It’s overwhelming to think about the nitty gritty of this game of food – the nutrition you choose to put into your body is what keeps you running on the most basic, physical levels. But it’s the energy of the food around you that needs consideration as well. We have our hearts in these greens, our souls in these handpicked vegetables. Who wouldn’t want that on their plate?
I could thank you, as always, for choosing to be part of this adventure. From the bottom of my very being, I thank you.
Hugs and Kale,