This week we had a group of high school kids from Prentice come and tour our farm. They are part of a summer gardening class lead by Mr. Quan Banh. We’ve heard of the renowned Mr. Banh from others in our journey to try and integrate our farm into our own school district with little avail. The students toured several farms that day, visited the extension office and even came to see us again at the farmer’s market at the end of their day.
The running theme of the day, aside from learning how to grow things, was that in rural areas, growing, selling and buying from local producers makes our economy go ‘round. The dollar you spend on the tomato at our farm is paid to our worker Susan, who in turn pays buys eggs from her neighbor Don, who then buys a gift of pottery from Linda, who buys beans from us. And the example came full circle while the kids were at market that afternoon! Spending your dollar at a big box retailer may save you fifty cents, but the reality is, a majority of that dollar will never be returned to you like it would be if spent locally.
Mr. Banh is proof that it takes one person willing to go the extra mile to make a huge difference in the lives of these young people. Without ag or horticulture classes in school, a majority of our kids are not taught that they are capable of growing their own food. He goes above and beyond teaching them how to grow food, but that is topic for a much longer letter.
New farm connections come with each person who gets involved with We Grow. We purchased piglets from a family whose son started working for us shortly after. Turns out he also works for Jane Hanson, a new vendor at Rib Lake market. She was given our information by our volunteer Sally and knows Mr. Banh. Another new connection! The same thing happens when volunteers help us sell produce at the farmer’s market. Customers recognize a face and make a connection to our farm.
The connections and word of mouth recommendations our CSA members and volunteers provide is invaluable. Tony Schultz from Stoney Acres told us this when we started selling shares back in 2014. We underestimated how important these connections would be in our success as we see the web of community support taking shape around us.
Eric & Rebecca