HOMEGROWN

Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

We Are Not Alone. Do You See Yourself Here?

Wonder why we need a sustainability hub here? I’m sure we’re just an example of what happens all over the country, but meet some of our people.  Because this was my idea, I didn’t have time to ask for permissions, so I have fictionalized the names, only.

                Know anyone with food allergies?  Debbie has a goat dairy in town about 20 miles away, and she has an awesome recipe for a special ice cream that many people with food allergies CAN eat. But she doesn’t have the money to get her farm Grade A certified and buy the necessary equipment to produce it legally for sale.  It has to be pasteurized, and to meet that demand, she needs at least $10,000. Then there’s the ice cream maker.....  But she can get the farm ready for Grade A status, and she could use our creamery.  Then she’d be helping her family, and I don’t know how many families who miss that special ice cream dessert.

Ever had a chair that needed repair, but you didn’t know how to do it?  You can figure out the gluing, but don’t know how to get it to stay together while it dries.  While walking down the street,  Al saw a rocking chair that was put out with trash. Since Al is a retired furniture maker, he took a look at it and discovered that the rocker was cracked.  The man who owned the chair was outside, so Al asked why the chair was being discarded. The owner said “The rocker’s cracked, so I figured I’d just get a new one.”  

“I can make you a new rocker if you’d like. It’s just made of wood,” offered Al.
“Really, you can do that? I didn’t think it could be fixed,” replied the chair’s owner.
Al fixed the chair, made a few dollars and a connection with a new friend, but would rather help others fix their own chairs than have to fix everyone else’s.

(When I told this story in a major city in New England the response was “I would have to pay $250 for that repair here.  A new chair is just more affordable.”  My answer – come to our center and learn how to fix it yourself, and use our tools.)

Personally I wanted to make some goat milk fudge and sell them at the Farmer’s Market.  When I called the Board of Health to find out how to get a permit I was told I would need to:
- have my well tested every year
- have my septic system pumped
- have my septic system tested for Title V compliance, the level needed to sell a house
- install a secondary grease trap on  my kitchen sink.

All of this because I have a private well and septic system and I wanted to make about 1 pound batch of fudge. (By the way, most of the fat/grease stays in the fudge.)  When I asked why I needed that much work done to make 5 lbs of fudge a week I was told that they had no mechanism to deal with home kitchens that “upgrade to commercial scale;” so they needed to make sure the house complied to begin with.  They didn’t want me to be “blowing up my septic system,” with too much grease, or yeast, so they instituted the rules.  If I lived on town water and sewer, I would just need to have my kitchen inspected for cleanliness and make sure I had a thermometer in the freezer/refrigerator. 

Welcome to rural America, where most of us are not on town sewer or water. How are we supposed to grow new businesses?

One aspect of our country’s future is that there is a large population of people on the Autism spectrum, but there are not enough places and plans to help them.  Some autistic people have more than neurological concerns, they also have dietary problems. Finding goat milk, organic food, and the supplies to keep them healthy can be expensive and time consuming, if it’s possible at all. By creating a sustainability hub, with room to run and food to find, we make their lives and their family’s lives easier, and we facilitate farmers to find those niches where they can grow food for a client base that really appreciates them.

My last little anecdote is that we have people who are driving 1.5 hours one way to train their dogs, because that is where there is an organized training class. We also have dog trainers who live locally but drive 1 hour each way to go to work where they train someone else’s dogs because that’s where they can find each other.  Meanwhile we have a padded space perfect for dog training, and it sits empty.

We are just one little region, but I’m sure we are not alone. It can be daunting to face the future with empty storefronts and cuts in services. But by working together  we have a plan that strengthens everyone’s future, but we don’t have the resources locally to make it happen without help from the outside.  Because we truly plan to be a model for what is possible, we feel it’s appropriate to ask. If you can see your family in any of these stories, please help.  By now you know the website, but just in case- it’s www.indiegogo.com/NCSCJigsaw?a=521984.  Thank you.

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Tags: community, dairy, economy, food, hub, local, sustainability

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