Thursday, June 25, 2009

Small Market, Big Ideas

As we get ready for our fifth edition of Bounty of the Barrens Market, which promises to be the best yet as Jackson's Orchard arrives with fresh peaches and blueberries, perhaps it is time to reflect on what we have accomplished and what we still want to get done. Even though everyone with Sustainable Glasgow is thrilled with the overwhelming success of our first four weeks of Bounty of the Barrens Market, we still want to remind everyone that the market is only the beginning of our plan to make our community better. We want a resilient local economy that can withstand the economic storms in much the same way that our local infrastructure has been able to withstand the lightning and wind storms we experienced over the last couple of weeks. And we are not just going to wish for a sustainable local economy, we are going to design one and work as hard as we must to make that design a reality.

Just a few months ago we methodically designed the Bounty of the Barrens Market and that plan is now a reality. If you have not been to BB&T’s rear parking lot on a Saturday morning to experience the camaraderie, the colors and smells of fresh produce, the succulent cooked food offerings from George J’s, and the sweet sound of music performed by talented locals, then you have missed the new place where our community convenes. You really should not let another Saturday go by without coming to the market.

The market is a great start toward Sustainable Glasgow’s goal of creating a sustainable food economy. We want to encourage more locals who have access to our greatest local resource, fertile land, to use that land to produce food for local consumption. We want to reestablish our ability to feed ourselves as a way to reestablish Glasgow as self-sufficient community instead of just another colony, totally dependent upon the global distribution systems of big-box retail stores for our daily bread. The market is proving that such a sustainable food economy is possible, but we are very far from being able to declare victory on this front. Still, each dollar you spend at the market registers as a vote for the creation of a sustainable local food economy, and we still need more votes.

Another exciting step toward a sustainable local economy is also beginning to evolve at the market. Local folks with the yen to start their own business are beginning to use the market as a small business incubator, and we are completely thrilled with that. As you vote with your pocket book at the Bounty of the Barrens Market, you are electing local folks who may soon be opening a full time business on Main Street. Those businesses will hire staff and hire local plumbers and electricians who will purchase supplies from other local businesses who, in turn, will hire more local folks. This is the manifestation of the “dollar multiplier effect” that is the real reason why we all should purchase what we need locally.

Can all of this flow from a simple idea and a small Saturday morning market? We think so. Big is not the answer to everything. We tend to agree with Kentucky’s own Wendell Berry who said, “We need to confront honestly the issue of scale. Bigness has a charm and a drama that are seductive, especially to politicians and financiers; but bigness promotes greed, indifference, and damage, and often bigness is not necessary. You may need a large corporation to run an airline or to manufacture cars, but you don't need a large corporation to raise a chicken or a hog. You don't need a large corporation to process local food or local timber and market it locally.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More on Food, Inc. - the link

Sorry, the link didn't make it on the previous post.
Here it is:

and this link takes you to another NYT story about how the industrial food industry hooks us on tastes and textures we cannot easily resist.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Market Day 3 is Tomorrow - 17 Reasons to Participate

The third Bounty of the Barrens Market Day is at hand, and though I am a bit worried about the weather and how we will deal with our sound system and over twenty canopies if another one of these storms shows up, I know we will deal with it somehow.

Already the market is becoming THE place where our community comes together on Saturday mornings to see friends and convene our collective vision for how great our city can be. The scene at the market with local musicians performing and local producers selling their goods is simply magical, but, as we have said before, our goal is not simply to help the community stock its refrigerator. Rather, we want to help the community re-stock its soul.

We are driven by the wisdom of folks like Kentucky’s own Wendell Berry, who has been writing and speaking and cajoling us for decades to build sustainable communities. To be honest, we are all a bit ashamed that it has taken us so long to hear his voice of reason, but, we are tuned in now. I hope he will not mind my excerpting the following 17 Rules for a Sustainable Community from his book Another Turn of the Crank. While these principles have not been formally adopted by Sustainable Glasgow, Inc., they certainly represent everything we hope to accomplish with Bounty of the Barrens Market and the many other initiatives we hope to roll out in the future.

So, we hope to see you every Saturday at the Bounty of the Barrens Market, and when you come there, please remember these are the things you are helping to accomplish. Wendell Berry wrote that if the members of a local community want their community to cohere, to flourish, and to last, these are some things they would do . . . and we agree!

1. Always ask of any proposed change or innovation: What will this do to our community? How will this affect our common wealth?

2. Always include local nature – the land, the water, the air, the native creatures – within the membership of the community.

3. Always ask how local needs might be supplied from local sources, including the mutual help of neighbors.

4. Always supply local needs first. (And only then think of exporting their products, first to nearby cities, and then to others.)

5. Understand the unsoundness of the industrial doctrine of “labor saving” if that implies poor work, unemployment, or any kind of pollution or contamination.

6. Develop properly scaled value-adding industries for local products to ensure that the community does not become merely a colony of the national or global economy.

7. Develop small-scale industries and businesses to support local farm and/or forest economy.

8. Strive to produce a much of the community’s own energy as possible.

9. Strive to increase earnings (in whatever form) within the community and decrease expenditures outside the community.

10. Make sure that money paid into the local economy circulates within the community for as long as possible before it is paid out.

11. Make the community able to invest in itself by maintaining its properties, keeping itself clean (without dirtying some other place), caring for its old people, teaching the children.

12. See that the old and the young take care of one another. The young must learn from the old, not necessarily and not always in school. There must be no institutionalized “child care” and “homes for the aged.” The community knows and remembers itself by the association of old and young.

13. Account for costs now conventionally hidden or “externalized.” Whenever possible, these costs must be debited against monetary income.

14. Look into the possible uses of local currency, community-funded loan programs, systems of barter, and the like.

15. Always be aware of the economic value of neighborly acts. In our time the costs of living are greatly increased by the loss of neighborhood, leaving people to face their calamities alone.

16. A rural community should always be acquainted with, and complexly connected with, community-minded people in nearby towns and cities.

17. A sustainable rural economy will be dependent on urban consumers loyal to local products. Therefore, we are talking about an economy that will always be more cooperative than competitive.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Lambs to the Slaughter - The Atlantic (May 2009)

An interesting article in the Atlantic Monthly about the benefits of buying your meats from local/regional producers.

Lambs to the Slaughter - The Atlantic (May 2009)

Shared via AddThis

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ready for BOTBM Day 2?

We certainly hope so! The Bounty of the Barrens Market opens at 8:00 a.m. and runs until noon at the parking lot behind BB&T on West Main in Glasgow. It looks like the weather is going to cooperate again and we hope the community turns out again this week to enjoy it. This week the folks from George J's will be manning the cooking tent and fixing up some of their specialties for your enjoyment. Luke Vaught will be performing sweet acoustic music and 20+ vendors will be set up to furnish you with the products they have proudly grown and/or produced right here in the Barrens.

To get your market game face on and further understand why eating local is so important, check out this link and then make sure to watch the program NOW on PBS tonight. It is on Channel 11 at 8:30 tonight on EPB cable.