Farmer's Market 9-29-18
Today is the last day for the St. Matthew's Farmer's Market 2018. We appreciate Beargrass Christian Church for their commitment to providing a space for local food to be offered to this community. This is the the twelfth year for this market and we have been here from the very beginning. When this market opened in 2007, we had just received our Organic Certification. Prior to this we had been selling at the Shelbyville Farmer's Market. We started the three year transition to organic in 2004 and were so excited to be able to get into a Louisville market. At that time there weren't many markets and it was very competitive with a long waiting list to get in. Little did we know that the St. Matthew's market would become one of the largest and most successful in the state.
We have seen a lot of changes in the local, organic food "movement" through the years. In 2007 we were one of two certified organic vendors at St. Matthew's. Now there are seven. Back then if you wanted organic food you had to come to a farmer's market, join a CSA or find a specialty grocery like Whole Foods. Now you can find organic at Kroger, Costco and other large groceries.
This has caused some confusion for the consumer. Why buy from a local farmer if i can pick up organic produce at my convenience and often at a lower price at the nearest grocery. Well, the difference is that when you buy from a local organic farmer the produce will be fresher (produce in groceries has often been stored for long periods of time plus it spends several days being shipped from California or Mexico or wherever) and you will be supporting a local economy. This is a major part of food security. If we depend on produce from California, then what happens when a devastating wildfire destroys thousands of acres of crops? Or a hurricane in North Carolina floods fields of produce and drowns thousands (maybe millions) of animals used for food production?
If we don't support local farmers then we don't have any real food security. That extra effort it takes to seek out local organic food means that you and your family are will not be compromised when disaster strikes another part of the country that supplies our food.
We need more small farms. This is how we spread out the risk. If I have a crop failure (like we did this year for potatoes) then you can find another local farmer who did not. A lot of growers were hit with blight on tomatoes this year. We grew ours in our high tunnel and they were protected from water splashing up on the plants from too much rain. This is how we achieve food security and economic security. More small farms.
But, if we have more small farms then we must have more people that are willing to put in the effort to seek out local organic food. Now I'm preaching to the choir 'cause all of you all do put in the effort. The question is how do we continue to get the message out and involve more people? I'm not going to take time this morning to get into all of that but I would encourage you, as a consumer, to become a member of the Organic Association of Kentucky (OAK) and get involved in this great organization to spread the good news. Check them out at oak-ky.org.
I hope you will come out on this beautiful fall morning and drink in the miracle of a small tent city that appears for a few hours each Saturday. Feel the energy and community that transforms cold,hard asphalt into a bright and warm place for you to experience a living local economy. And the connections made between people. Farmer to customer. Customer to customer. Farmer to farmer. Connections that last. Connections that aren't made by clicking the Prime button on Amazon.
Some of us are going to try to continue these connections for a little while longer. Next Saturday a few of us will be moving down the street to the Fresh Thyme grocery on Shelbyville Rd. Less than a mile (east) of our St. Matthew's Market location. We will be setting up in their parking lot from 9:00-12:00. More on this next week.
Thank you for your support this year. We don't exist without your support. Nor do the other small farms. Spread the word.
Larry and Beth