Since I last wrote a post, the nation has faced a great deal of turmoil. Though these events are unrelated to farmers’ markets, I wanted to address the importance that farmers’ markets play in the role of building community. In times of trouble, communities need a place where they can gather, share, and heal. I hope that the community sees our market as a place where this healing processes can happen, and through my time here plan to further the relationship between all of the market’s programs and the community.
One way that we are doing this is through a recent partnership with High Point Academy, a local public charter school. Jamie and I have been working with middle and high school students to develop strategies for community outreach, meeting with them weekly in their career development sessions. Collaborating with these students has opened a door to creativity, refreshing ideas that we are eager to carry out in the community.
The perspectives that these kids bring to the table and the eagerness that they exhibit is infectious, and has been helping me reevaluate the various aspects of my job here as a VISTA. I’ve tried to carve a niche for my service year, focusing on efforts that I think can be effective in promoting the farmers’ market in the community and building capacity.
Spending more time at the community garden, I have been envisioning a future for this site that is more sustainable, and attracts community members that may not have given it a second glance. While exploring ways to make the site more vibrant, I’ve met with Master Gardeners and other individuals with an interest in tending these plots.
The community has a prime example of an well designed and often used garden space, just a 15 minute drive from downtown. The Goodall Center, a Wofford College building located on the old mill property in Glendale is home to an education space unlike any I’ve seen. Combining natural landscape, a restored mill, and various education resources, this is a great model for ways to craft a valued space in the community.
I know that the farmers’ market is not afforded all of the same natural luxuries, but what it lacks in green space it can make up for with human capital. The community garden is located a stone’s throw from the library, at the heart of downtown. I think that if we can work on program development and improving the aesthetics of that space, the community garden can gain a foothold, becoming a resource to the Southside community members. By observation, their neighborhood has received less infrastructural attention than the Northside.
Through all at the efforts we have undertaken at the farmers’ market in the last month, all a trending toward better community relationships. Whether communities are faced with violence, poverty, or natural disasters, healing can be found in gardens, places where people can congregate. I think we are on the right track heading into the winter for community outreach, hopefully our activities now will promote a bountiful winter. If you would like to be a part of our work, please don’t hesitate to email or call!