Friday, August 23, 2013
The Power of the Internets
When we moved to Enumclaw, I started driving around looking at farms for signs of what I considered to be sustainable farming: cows in the meadow, chicken tractors with chickens afoot, and things like that. One farm that I particularly admired had a banner out front. A name that I googled and found had a website and a Facebook page. After a few weeks spent reading the content on the owner's Facebook page, I contacted her with a question. That one question led to a coffee date where we discussed farm building and chicken rearing and all other kinds of interests we had in common--and more importantly, I felt I had found an inspiring mentor. During our discussion, Joyce mentioned that she had this idea that maybe there were more people like us lurking about the Plateau, and she thought it would be neat to start an online forum for sustainable farmers in our area to share ideas, ask for feedback, and have gatherings. It was a marvelous idea. And thankfully, one she went home and put one together.
After a few weeks, we had our first potluck in an old schoolhouse in the area. Man, did we eat like kings? Sausage and kale soup, fermented foods, homemade kombucha, tapioca pudding, and apple cake...the list goes on. All from food that we all had collectively grown. But the best part of the day wasn't the food, but the seeds of friendships that were started that day. Some of the people had already known each other, and then there were people like us that had just moved here and were looking for a community to belong to. It was one of the best days of my life.
From that one meeting, we've found ways to support each other. Some of us buy produce from one another, and some of us trade items. We promote each other's endeavors with our friends and acquaintances outside the area.
Since that simple little action of starting a Facebook page to connect us all together, a beautiful opportunity has presented itself. A member of the group has reached out to people she knows through a local gym, and has developed a relationship with customers interested in purchasing locally produced foods--a partnership I've seen referred to as "Farm to Gym". The concept couldn't be more perfect!
The reception was so remarkable, that a collective of producers has been formed to hopefully create a local farming co-op called Plateau Producers. There is research going on to find a commercial kitchen with a small store front, in hopes to support the canners and bakers within the group as well. Others in the group are contributing their talents by designing websites or logos.
The point being, from something as vague, yet simple as starting a forum online for a small group of like minded people, has sprung a supportive community of inspirational people with the goal to start a grassroots local food movement in our area. And in supporting each other both personally and professionally, I feel we've made a pretty great group of friends for life.
What actions have you taken to help build community in your area?