In terms of my day to day work I don’t always get to see the people I work with. It’s usually by phone or Skype. Today was a special treat to spend it with the Boondocks Buying Club in Bethel, ME.
One face in the room was a familiar partner, but the rest were those taking on the seriousness of growing a buying club meant to reduce prices, create relationships with farmers, and make food more accessible to folks who don’t make it to the local farmer’s market. Folks like senior citizens and those for whom the timing of the market doesn’t work out consistently.
Tricia Cook of the Western Mountain Alliance has providing speaking opportunities before. This meeting is two fold. Train some of the buying club members on the software, and discuss how the local farmers of Bethel, Maine can be a part of this buying club and be a part of what I call a Producer-Consumer Cooperative. I’m not sure they will ever structure themselves that way, but that’s what I saw happening in front of me.
Farmers and citizens working together to educate each other on their points of view, and create a buying relationship that is as close to home as you can possibly get. I think Tricia and I, and Amy Scott the guru behind the club’s growth and vision, agree that this is an important step for the club, and the way we really hope to see things evolve town by town. They also found a grant to pay a coordinator to work out some of the logistics of the club, and organized this meeting of farmers and folks. In terms of communication within the buying club, a coordinator is important to success.
To me, this is all serious work that takes a lot of resolve and courage. I think they are doing great and on the right path to creating their own market, and creating community between those who grow the food and those who consume it. It’s the only way to really bring down some of the cost, guarantee quality and an environmentally friendly distribution. And no, it’s not perfect, but it’s better than what exists today and I think they are asking themselves the right questions.
Cheers to you Tricia and Amy, and all the farmers and buying club members in Bethel. I thank you for your work, and the opportunity to be a part of these discussions.
Before I go there’s a side story to share…
A woman named Anna is a member of the buying club and local caterer. She looked familiar and it turned out that we had met when I was catering the Kneading Conference in Skowhegan, ME last summer. We were pretty excited at the connection. She had made a fritata, tomato basil soup, beans, a beautiful salad of sunflower shoots and several other dishes I would call wonderful. It is always a pleasure for me to eat food that is clearly given a lot of love as it is made. Especially in winter when tomato soup is involved… I get that fuzzy feeling in my tummy. The special part here was meeting her very enthusiastic daughter who as Anna said is “always spreading the love”. Well, that statement shows in the gift I was given that I took home and now hangs on my wall. It warms my heart, and reminds me that so much of what I do is for our children to grow up in a better place. I’m a dreamer, and my dream is for that little girl to grow up continuing to spread the love, and not having to spend her days fixing a broken food system.
Much love and healthy local food to you! 🙂