It’s funny the things that you learn as you grow older. I think at the same time we grow a little more jaded which I believe is sad. We no longer have the trust or the belief in ideals as reality sets in.
For 12 years Joe and I ran a computer store in Sterling, VA. It was well known and we did good work. We built new computers and upgraded old ones to make ones that were affordable for people who just needed the basics. As often as possible, we would do computer shows – which meant loading up a really old van with super heavy equipment and cables and display stuff to go and sell it. Honestly – though I met some great people – it was a serious cut-throat atmosphere every weekend that I would go and do one and it was exhausting as an all day event.
Now fast-forward….we have been running this farm for 11 years, though I swear I just stepped on the property as a new “farm” owner yesterday. We never expected what we have gotten from this place. But, as a new owner of land, you dream of friends, working together and sharing successes as well as sharing failures.
This is honestly what it was like the first few years we were farming and participating in farmers markets. If someone ran out of something, they would even yell across the way to see if someone else was able to accommodate you. We were all in the same boat – celebrating selling out and getting pissy if the day was ugly. We weathered the weather outside together huddled under tents and sharing coffee.
Now? It seems that this has gone away. This doesn’t just come from me, but also from customers who have shared their experiences with us who notice the tension at the local markets.
We all bust our asses to bring what we KNOW is a great product to the customer. People who are raising and growing their own product are seriously working 365 days a year and rarely getting a break. We find a lot of people are surprised that we don’t have a TON of hired help….. ummmmm…. we’d love to, but help doesn’t come free or cheap – even volunteers require supervision and guidance and it’s difficult. So everyone should be given every outlet to be able to sell their product. Plain and simple. I’m not speaking of the farmers who are co-oping with others…
I’m not speaking of the farmers who are co-oping with others…these are the people who you can ask for something to be available next week and they say no problem… why? Because most people raising their own stuff have set butchering dates and can’t just butcher something for 1 roast – or else where does the rest of the meat GO?
I’m dreaming of a Uptopia I guess, a whimsical place where the farmers work together for the best of the community vs if their profit margin is better than someone else’s. The idea is to be HAPPY when someone succeeds and frustrated along with them when they fail. Support and lift up vs shutting down. If it is in your power then support…. it’s understandable if someone is not always able to do something (I honestly don’t have the time to teach you about what I do – as much as I want to share, it’s just not always possible)… but if you have something that will support MY business and I can support YOURS – I sure as hell will do that in a heartbeart.