When local is hard, but good

A lot of people know that I share my thoughts here on our website, but what many people do not know is that a few short years ago-about five or so, I guess-I was an anonymous moderator and writer for a popular baby website and an up and coming writer for several popular natural and attachment parenting blogs.  One day, while working through what my next project would be it hit me that writing to a national audience was pretty safe and comfortable.  Maybe, just maybe I should throw caution to the wind and write to real people right here in my hometown.  While I had built relationships with a handful of beautiful, wonderful ladies on the national stage-many of whom I still call friends-there was just something missing.  There was this authentic, messy, personal message I wanted to share and I wanted to share it with people I knew.  Several people advised against it reminding me how easy it is to remain somewhat anonymous in the online world-this was before facebook.  But one of the very things I wanted to write and share about was how lonely I sometimes felt doing this mom thing-all alone-confined to my home (minus the trips to the grocery, church, play groups and exercise classes).  What if there was something else inside of me-that if shared with others who I can meet face to face-could create something for me as a mother that was bigger than myself?

I had to see.

A group photo from my original online blogging days.  Silly kids and a nursing baby.
There was something very safe when the words I expressed, the thoughts I shared and the weaknesses I exposed were only for those I would never meet in person.  To be vulnerable in a way that makes people uncomfortable and then risk seeing them out in public is anything but safe.  A longing in my heart to connect one on one, in real life and through shared experiences motivated me to give up my previous online responsibilities and move into something more local.

My first SOKY Happenings article was on the subject of Faith in Childbirth, talk about going all in.  Within weeks of my debut into local writing my inbox was full of messages from local pastors concerned about my view on “faith”, criticism from real life friends and some awkward moments with rare acquaintences.  But more importantly than the criticism I began to experience authentic connection to people who had struggled and worked through some of the same things I was feeling.  I was “just a mom” and later a farmer simply sharing my life-and others seemed to connect to that-in both positive and negative ways.  That began my very local efforts to help, encourage and put myself out there even when it meant concerns about this and that.  Thankfully, most of the time it meant the best.

There is something very similar in local farming.   That relationship between farmer and eater.  A farmer puts themselves out there hoping for the best.  They work hard from sun up to sun down and produce the best they can in an occupation they have very little control of.  The weather, wildlife and multiple other scenarios that happen on real farms can leave that farmer with something easy to criticize.  The same goes for the consumer who invests their dollars wholeheartedly into something that may not be perfect and in some cases requires their critique.  How much easier it is to walk into a grocery store and stock up on food that has been harvested, boxed, transported, packaged, and placed by faces you’ll never have to see.  To have to look your farmer in the face puts yourself into a very vulnerable place.  It takes commitment and a willingness to sacrifice.  But the return is worth it just like in my writing and sharing locally was.  The real relationships-although sometimes messy-add value to our lives that are remembrance of a time far gone.  A time when people and dreams and lives were known deeply and shared.
We’re thankful for the real relationships we’ve developed here on our farm.  With our farm members, customers at Community Farmers Market, community leaders, beginning farmers, local chefs we can not only name, but often enjoy dinner with.  We’re thankful for the grace and mercy that has been shown to us as we’ve figured out this showing up and being vulnerable thing.  We hope that we’ve shown you grace and mercy as well.  For us, being local is hard, but we cannot imagine it any other way.

“Things that belong together have been taken apart. And you can’t put it all back together again. What you do is the only thing that you can do. You take two things that ought to be together and you put them back together. Two things, not all things. That’s the way the work has to go. You make connections in your work.” — Wendell Berry