I was recently asked to speak in an upcoming event this spring to a group of investors, entrepeanurs and local businesses about a topic of interest that could potentially get them to invest in an idea, product or project that the farm has and or needs financial assistance with. Perhaps a feel good kind of investment.
After coming up with a few ideas, it occurred to me that what I needed to speak on was not about trying to convince an audience about how important it is to join a CSA for example, but rather, the importance of investing in farmers because they have made an investment to make sure all of them are able to have food, open space to hunt, fish and wander; to name a few examples. That has a value, and whether or not a farmer or myself has something to sell, the idea of open space and access to food in ones neighborhood should be enough to make people want to make sure that that is available for the next generation as well. I plan to have an itemization of the amount of money our farm alone spends in its local economy as well as what our diet looks like on a day to day basis and where the ingredients come from. I know that the numbers alone and menu will be astonishing to all of them listening and wishing they could eat at my table.
We have watched as more than a dozen small organic dairies shut down within the past year with more marked this spring. There is frustration, depression and an overall sense of demise. Not just in the organic dairies, but the apple, blueberry, potato, and conventional dairies as well.
The reality is, if everyone invested in farmers the way farmers invest in their communities on a day to day basis, much of the problem could go away.
How do I envision that happening? Whether you shop at a local coop, farm stand or large chain store, seek out U.S. and or state-specific produce and products based on where you live. Ask yourself, for example, how important is it that you have European cheeses? or a product that has a list of ingredients that can’t be identified? If, what you really want is a unique cheese, do some research and find out who in your state/area is making those style cheeses, make a call and find out how you can get it. Better yet, pay that farm a visit on your next day off. You may find that the ride brings you more than just the cheese, but perhaps some tranquility and peacefulness when driving through the countryside. Bring a friend, share the moment, put a face on your food. Meet the farmer. The same goes for purchasing your vegetables, fruits, grains, fiber, and prepared food. You all deserve the right to eat well and have the freshest ingredients available to you. As far as I am concerned, that only happens with ingredients and food (fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, dairy, some grains) that are grown and produced within a 50-mile radius.
Farmers are at a critical point of change and the ball really is in the audiences court. Invest/commit to the same level of commitment as the current existing farmers today are to you, and we will all live a bountiful life for generations to come.
It is what I would call a no brainer investment!