As I reflect upon the last year I cannot help but think of all the lessons we have been able to teach our children about life, responsibility, hard work, community. Making the decision to farm full time is a very complex one. One of the most collaborative works that I’m thankful we were able to participate in as a family is the renovation of 2319 Nashville Road into the new home of Community Farmers Market. The facility on campus grounds was really unusable (except for storage) until the farmers, artists, prepared food vendors and volunteers came together to completely renovate it into a usable space. In nearly 30 days thousands of hours had been put in by hundreds of people. Through hard work, elbow grease, blood and tears the market opened in November 2013 and has become the home of the year round market that our farm and many others gives our lives too. It’s amazing what the coming together of hard working people can produce. With less than $17,000 we were able to invest into a space that isn’t needed right now and turn it into a place that has allowed numerous small scale “mom and pop” businesses succeed-many of whom have been able to move onto full time, retail locations.
Most importantly our kids witnessed a group of people coming together for a common goal-improving access to healthy food and helping people make a good hard earned living for themselves. I’ll be forever thankful that they learned how hard it is to truly sacrifice and give to others. There were days we didn’t think we would get it done. There were times that others questioned our ability-and we did the same. So many life lessons came out of that building for everyone involved. Often in life we can spend time sitting around talking about doing things to make the world a better place. This was the doing. This was the getting your hands dirty and working through the night to get the job done-no matter the cost. This was the needing and depending on others in a way that many of us never get to experience and humbles you in ways you never knew possible. This was serving both ourselves and our community in ways that just don’t always make sense.
One of the main reasons that we give of ourselves to Community Farmers Market is because of it’s very successful outreach program. Almost all of the USDA and state funding we have received goes directly to making our outreach programs successful. And while our building is funded by our vendors our outreach program is funded by people in the community-life you. Businesses, churches, non profits, individuals give generously to allow us to offer the community a successful Double Dollars program. Together with community partners we are able to overcome real obstacles to getting fresh food grown by farmers to the people who need it most. Over $30,000 in fresh food has been made available to more people in our community. People who are struggling, trying to get by, with real barriers in their lives. Today, I am thankful for the generosity and kindness of those who are part of our second home-Community Farmers Market.