I loved my time volunteering at The Foundry. It was about five years ago and our family had become involved in several areas of ministry and community engagement in the West Side of Bowling Green. It was a privileged time in my life that offered me the ability to pack up snacks once a week and head to The Foundry to help care for gardens that we had planted alongside volunteers from Broadway United Methodist Church and Community Farmers Market. The relationships that we built forever changed the way I look at the food system barriers here in South Central, Kentucky. It was the inspiration and motivation to ensure that my work is always split between growing and marketing good food as well as creating better food access. It was where I started finding my voice by listening to others.
It was a peaceful time, but also a very difficult time of transition. I had become a stay at home mom a few years before and quickly learned to scratch the “stay” and replace it with “work”. For the previous years I had taken several part-time jobs. The WIC program helped us make ends meet just like it does for many of the people who live in the West Side of Bowling Green. I can still remember being very pregnant with Adaline and wearing Lilah on my back while doing wedding flowers for long days. We were thankful for the opportunities, but it was a hard, hard time. There’s something to be said for the working many people do in order to outrun the shame of financial insecurity. It effects every area of your life.
This time in my life was a powerful teacher as I considered the many obstacles and barriers to healthy food-for my family and for others. It prepared me for what work on the farm would be like and helped connect me to the many people in our community who have to work like that just to survive. It reminded me of where I came from and encouraged me to never forget.
As the kids got older I realized that my work needed to be more intertwined into their everyday life if we were to continue homeschooling. Nathan’s income from heirloom tomatoes and watermelon were helping us find better footing financially. The kids and I started a mixed garden in hopes of starting a CSA the following year. The older kids and I would set up at CFM every Saturday with whatever we could piece together-herbs, crayon cars, soaps. We have been blessed beyond measure to be able to follow our calling and put the hard work into something we are passionate about-together as a family.
This coming together with fellow farmers + makers at Community Farmers Market and being engaged at The Foundry created memories I will always be thankful for. I love these people offering what they have when they have it to the people right there in front of them. When everyone is doing their part and allowing others to do theirs-beautiful things happen. That has been my experience time and time again. The work and coming together isn’t about yourself, but about the possibility that is being created. The people who have given so much of themselves-either on our farm, at CFM, The Foundry, or one of the many other community organizations and agencies remind me that all of these seemingly small efforts add up to something very significant.
The tomato-a fruit (or vegetable if you prefer) becomes something we celebrate. This gives me hope that all fresh fruits and vegetables being grown here in Kentucky will continue to be celebrated. Fresh food makes strong and healthy communities. Supporting local farmers makes strong and healthy communities. We owe it to ourselves to put the work into making it so.
Another year. Another Heirloom TomatoFest. We are honored to be welcomed back to The Foundry this year just as we were last year. There’s something special about this place, this season. It very much feels like bringing the celebration of the Heirloom Tomato back HOME. It’s a reminder of how blessed we’ve been by each of you and how thankful we are for those who support our farm, Community Farmers Market and the many partners who are working hard to make local food available to everyone. I believe that this is just the beginning.
Join us Thursday August 20th at The Foundry. 5-7 pm. 531 West 11th Avenue Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101.