When we started farming 12 years ago – for whatever reason – I decided to grow loads of pumpkins and watermelons that first year. We had no idea what we would do with them but it seemed like a great idea! During that summer I found the Rockville Produce Auction, it was an Amish settlement about an hour’s drive south of our farm in rural Parke county, Indiana. From the very first person I talked to until the last pumpkin and melon where sold that year the tight knit community of Amish farmers welcomed me into their community. Over the years we of course stopped selling at the auction but have always stayed in contact with and bought many supplies from the community.
This last week I was asked by a couple of the elders to come speak at their winter business meeting about our farm and the direction we have chosen to take. This is a pretty common request that I get and am happy to do it. But I must say from the moment I pulled in to the drive this one felt much different! I was asked to come speak to a group of fifty or so seasoned farmers with proven track records in production about how they may do better at their work! The afternoon was great the conversation fast and to the point and again I was quickly made to feel right at home.
When you are an organic vegetable farmer in the middle of Indiana you often times begin to feel a bit secluded from the rest of the rural community. But one of the most extraordinary things about the sustainable ag community is the undeniable support we all have for each other. How many businesses today could call up their competitors in the marketplace and ask them exactly when they planted a specific variety or what variety was their best performer at any given time? The power of this community in building a better food system locally is incredible, and a great contrast to so many things we see in our world today. Literally on the way to this meeting I was talking to Eli Robb with Full Hand Farm about his late planting of tomatoes that he did last year and what date and variety that was… he gladly looked it up and we hashed it out as to how it all worked. Then I proceeded to tell this community of 40-50 growers what we grow, when we grow it and how we sell it. On the way home I got a call from Reuben Brubaker from The Weathered Plow and worked through some issues he was having with spinach and decided he should grab some of the extra seed I have on hand to try out!
Together we are stronger! No matter the differences in (insert anything here) that we have, your local community of growers are working to build the most resilient food system that we can. I am proud to be a piece of it, and excited that you all are helping us all push forward no matter the outside influences.
Cheer’s and enjoy this sunny 30 degree heatwave!