It is customary to spend time considering the notion of our civil and legal liberties on the 4th of July, and being a farmer, I always think about how the notion of independence is related to our food system. Increasing food independence is one of the horns we toot rather loudly over here at Horseradish Ranch. It’s easy to say that knowing your farmer and eating local food gives you freedom from the agricultural-industrial complex and all of the health/environmental/welfare/financial abuses that it relies upon. So, rather than write an e-mail all about the benefits of how we farm differently (because we know, you’ve read our website already), I’d like to focus on something else: how we’re not really independent at all.
The truth is, even more important than our independence as a food region is our inter-dependence. The work that I do every day out here on our farm would not be possible if it weren’t for the support of our loyal friends and customers like yourself. In turn, our community relies on us as a source of local, healthy food that they can feel not only confident in, but also feel a part of. At the end of the day, your successes and failures are my successes and failures too.
This past 2016/2017 winter was one of the harshest that the Columbia Gorge has seen in a very long time. Ice storms, closed roads, bitter cold — did the fact that we can grow and store food here make us feel more secure? Of course it did. But even more than our stores of beans and meats, what brought me the most sense of comfort was how our relatively new relationship with our neighbors grew and blossomed over the course of the winter hardship. Broken tractors, miles and miles of snowblowing, power outages, and broken well pumps — all of these things we were able to deal with thanks to the generosity and expertise of neighbors and community members.
When I am out doing long hours of chores, I sometimes find myself imagining (incorrectly) that I am alone — but it only takes a moment to remember that Brian is in this with me, Barbara is in this with me, and you all are in this with me too in your own way. We are all in this together, and it’s that togetherness that gives this food movement a strength and power that, if we can wield it in our daily lives, can change our global system one piece at a time.
Happy Inter-dependence Day!