The past seven months have been fairly busy for me between working on the farm and adding a lot of new projects to the business as well as working on community projects. All of these things have definitely contributed to my lack of presence here on the blog and at Homegrown Goodness but those sacrifices have been well worthwhile considering the payoffs.
I've heard more locally in common everday conversations and political conversations about sustainability in the "status quo" as well as in TEOTWAWKI situations that I ever have in the past. Conversations which might lead to bigger projects for the local community in the future but which are leading to fairly paradigm shifting moments in the present. Hell, I even spoke in front of the Washington County Chamber Of Commerce about plant breeding and sustainability this year and ran head first into folks more than willing to concede that we need a council to discuss and implement agricultural, cultural, and local economy based sustainability in this county. Something I will soon persue.
In the meantime I've been working towards agricultural history with my place at Old Settlers Days and hopefully the same will be said for my position in the Pekin Betterment.
The biggest and thus far most fulfilling (simply because it's further along) is the new Washington County Artisans and Farmers Market. Washington county has needed an alternative market for a long time, particularly one that was inclusive of local artisans and crafters so that they too have a venue through which to move their handmade and hopefully culturally signifigant work. The board is a nice mix of at large and producer members and we all share the same goal of both making the new market sucessful in terms of a farmers market but also in terms of economic development and agritourism opporotunities.
Me, I see it a little deeper than the other probably just because my awareness and knowledge of the shifting paradigm of government, economy, and agriculture and just how fucked were about to be by the system crash that's bound to come, so it's my hope (on top of those mentioned above) to also create barter and trade systems amongst vendors and community so that in the course of things going south we have some system which is still managable within the community of holding onto some level of sanity and comfort.
The one downside of the farmers market is our inability to have alcoholic beverages on the premises of the farmers market since it is on town property that was deeded over with the provision that no alcohol be allowed on the property. This is something that comes up over and over again in discussions with the board and in other areas of improvement and awareness of Washington County and it's unique wears. Since the Pekin Betterment also operates out of the park there too can be no alcohol via the Fourth of July Celebration. When it comes to Old Settlers Days in Salem, I'm still not sure of the opporotunities (probably if I joined the chamber I would have a better idea). This really is something that from an economic and tourism perspective we are missing out on as there are some fantastic beer brewers and wine vinters around and if anything draws a crowd it's good alcohol. This is the point of view by which most of my contemporaries also view the situation, purely from an economical and tourism view along with an express interest in seeing community members business flourish and artisan wares take off, but there is another side to it that relates just as much to TEOTWAWKI as well; alcohol and tobacco (also perfectly legal to sale uncut and in hands) will very well be a big part of the sustainability of Washington County should things get, shall I say, "That bad.". Nay, even in my opinion should be included some of the finest "likker" to ever roll off a still in the state of Indiana should be included (for the sake of either the Artisan status quo reasons or the other aforementioned) but would require an act of god to make happen given the start up costs of going "legit", none the less, we all know it exists and will be there when needed.
The third and newest part of this whole Washington County waking up paradigm is an article that one of my farmers market board members shared with the group today about a school on the other side of the county (West Washington) and some children there interested in growing a larger proportion of the cafeteria food in a hydrophonic, on site greenhouse (I'll hold my tounge and content about hydrophonic and sustainability but it's a step in the right direction). This gives me much hope that perhaps Salem and my own Alma Matter Eastern will begin to promote such ideas and begin the ball rolling on their own food growing enterprises. In fact, when I was in high school we had a fantastic and deep agriculture program which taught even quite advanced plant propigation, landscaping, botany, animal science, and horticulture at a college level (to those students like me who actually paid attention) so theres no reason that this could not be furthered. In fact, it's my opinion that not only should all schools have a greenhouse for production of food but they should include at least some number of chickens for producing eggs as well as a small research garden and a small orchard. Seed saving and gardening should be prerequisite courses for graduation as both can be applied to any situation in which you might be living your future life as there are now so many balcony, rooftop, and urban gardens.
None the less, if you appreciate such things, please take a moment to check out the link to the West Washington project that I am about to leave and donate a few dollars to further the cause of sustainability in Washington County. Much appreciated.