Written by Heather Ramshaw (Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Centre), A note from your friendly neighbourhood Farmers’ Market Manager.
As a consumer, you are flooded with eating options. From restaurant delivery apps, chilled meal boxes on your doorstep, and the glowing frozen aisles and piles of perfect shiny vegetables at the grocery store, we are encouraged to distance ourselves as far from the land and our producers as possible. Why do we want to keep the reality of the farm at arm’s length?
Perhaps it is a simple convenience issue. Despite the entire world continuing to eat—and as our population grows, eating more every day—our small farmers are struggling. The volatility of our climate, the industrialization of agricul- ture, and high rates of depression and mental illness create a perfect storm for small farmers across the globe. Farming is a highly demanding and stressful profession that fewer and fewer young people are choosing to pursue.
Perhaps by allowing convenience to play such a role in our eating choices we devalue the work of our producers. By keeping the farm and our producers out of our sight and mind, we don’t need to share their pain and struggles.
Overall it makes sense. In a society that praises busy- ness and prioritizes convenience, we believe we have no other option but to rely heavily on prepared meals and delivery. Meal planning, shopping and cooking takes energy that we simply cannot spare. Additionally, we are bombarded with news of negativity, and burdened with struggles beyond our own daily lives. We don’t feel we have the capacity to take on any more outside shame, guilt and stress.
Fortunately, our food choices are an area where a little bit of awareness can go a long way. In shrinking the gap between you and the source of your food, the producer, our community, our economy and your household, can all benefit directly. By choosing to support local, you can keep your money in your community, encourage environmental stewardship and sustainable growing methods, and experience high quality products backed by true passion. Not to mention the health benefits that come with a whole food diet, and the undeniable sense of connection you get when you cook and share meals with friends, family and neighbours.
In an effort to combat the growing gap between eaters and producers, The Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmers’ Market has declared 2019 The Year of the Farmer. As an Alberta Approved, community-driven Farmers’ Market, we look to provide an important alternative to our conventional food system. We believe in the family farm, small business, and the power of voting with your dollar. We prioritize good food, authentic producers and a slower pace. We look to lighten the load for everyone and share the burden of the agriculture industry with our farmers and customers.
This year we will be taking important steps to support the Farmers in our Market Family beyond just providing a year-round venue for them to connect with consumers and sell their product. For us, committing to our Farmers translates to a commitment of authenticity, transparency, and continuing to educate ourselves and our customers. Whether you shop with us, another Farmers’ Market, the local grocer, buy direct from a farm, or even just make space to reflect on your eating choices periodically; we encourage you to take any opportunity you can to shake the hands that feed you and get to know your grower. Follow along on our journey through 2019 the Year of the Farmer and share your experiences with us on Face- book, Instagram and by coming to our weekly market at/ inside the HSCA year-round on Wednesdays from 3-7pm. (#YearoftheFarmer #knowyourgrower #hsfmfamily)