>A) Personal relationships are the glue that holds sustainable agriculture
>Whether they are the farmer-farmer networks that encourage knowledge
sharing or the
>farmer-eater relationships built around food and community or the
eater-eater These relationships are fundamental to changing people's
ideas about "cheap" food and the dominate food system.
Personal relationships are what holds many a small business together. I do
think that people are tired of spending their money in stores where nobody
is in charge, nobody knows anything, and nobody cares. It doesn't matter if
you're a farmer or a restaurateur or a shoe shop owner.
>B) How does one build these personal relationships? Do farmers have
time, the knack
>or whatever to maintain these relationships? Do consumers? Probably not.
Consumers might, for the products they really care about, and I think an
increasing number of them care about food. It's a bigger problem for
farmers. To bring this farm into the safe range of profitability, we need
to attend another weekly farmers' market. I already attend two, my partner
attends two (one with me). If we add another, we will need to send
employees. Employees, especially one-year seasonal employees, can't build
those relationships. Mary acknowledges the problem. What are the solutions?
We put out a newsletter, hand out brochures and recipe cards, but there is
no substitute for the farmer, real life and in person. The farmer can't do
it, and still farm, for which there is also no substitute for the farmer.
The best example of doing it right might be Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms
in Virginia, who says he's always looking for new customers, but he'd
rather do $2500 worth of business with one customer than $250 worth of
business each with 10.
But we are, as Mary points out, making some progress. Today I hosted a
magazine editor and photographer at the farm. Both discerning food buyers
and eaters. Both told me that they personally were not concerned about the
new organic standards. They don't buy organic, unless they know who grew
it. They were much more concerned about local, fresh, and being "connected"
with the grower.
Wish I had the time to connect with more of those people.
Flickerville Mountain Farm & Groundhog Ranch
Specialty Produce and Flowers
Nothing is easy. The best is worth the effort.
Rt. 1, Box 765
Warfordsburg, PA 17267
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