If I Were a Rich Girl…

This article was originally posted on Cape Breton Local Food Adventure  and was written by Alicia Lake.

This blog post has been brew­ing in my mind since last fall. Now that we are in the clutches of win­ter it seems I am bet­ter able to re­flect and write, so fi­nally the time has come to post in this blog for the first time in months!

Late in the fall of 2013 I found my­self vis­it­ing a local veg­etable and egg farm on a Sat­ur­day morn­ing. I was there to buy my win­ter’s worth of pota­toes, but found my­self being given leeks, cel­ery and eggs. After the trans­ac­tion (which in­cluded me hag­gling UP the price from next to noth­ing, to some­thing that could be slightly prof­itable for the farmer) I was in­vited in for a visit.

The farm­ers I was vis­it­ing that day were a lovely and friendly cou­ple. They sell prod­ucts at the farm­ers mar­ket in my town so I know them from there, but this was my first visit to their home. I was struck by their en­thu­si­asm, the mul­ti­ple tal­ents the wife demon­strated in sewing and bak­ing, along with farm­ing, and by the chick­ens run­ning around the yard.

We  talked about farm­ing and pric­ing. I spent some time try­ing to con­vince them that they should be charg­ing more for their free-range eggs be­cause they have real value over other eggs and should pay for at least the up­keep of the chick­ens. The wife re­luc­tantly agreed, but the hus­band told me that, “the chick­ens are part of the fam­ily, and we never make fam­ily pay their own way.” 

So fit­tingly, in the next breath this gen­tle­men asked me how all my pro­jects were going and if I was still only vol­un­teer­ing at the mar­ket and at the var­i­ous other local food ini­tia­tives I’m doing. When I told him that I was in fact just vol­un­teer­ing be­cause it is my pas­sion and un­for­tu­nately there aren’t many jobs in local food around here, he said, “We’re lucky to have you, if you got paid for all the work you do, you would be a rich girl.”

Al­though we all laughed about it at the time, as I drove home I began to re­flect on what he said, and I have been think­ing about it ever since. Very sadly, this man died only a cou­ple of months after hav­ing this dis­cus­sion with me. Per­haps this is par­tially why I have come to think of that as such a pro­found mo­ment in my life, but I don’t think that’s just it.

I have come to the con­clu­sion that I am in fact a rich girl. No, I don’t have a high pay­ing job, and I don’t get to spend money on what­ever I like, or go on ex­pen­sive trips every win­ter, but I think that I have found some­thing much richer.

Since be­com­ing so heav­ily in­volved with the local food move­ment, I have built up a whole com­mu­nity of won­der­ful farm­ers, chefs, ac­tivists, politi­cians, bu­reau­crats, food­ies and friends around my­self and my fam­ily.

I have been able to de­velop deep and mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ships with the peo­ple who pro­duce and pre­pare my food, and those who work on com­mon local food goals. I have learned a whole new level of trust and mu­tu­al­ity through these re­la­tion­ships. I have de­vel­oped new habits, like pay­ing for food with blank cheques and hav­ing all-lo­cal potlucks! I get to participate in to­tally cool ac­tiv­i­ties like plant­ing com­mu­nity gar­dens or slaugh­ter­ing chick­ens.

I also have peo­ple that give me food from their spe­cial stores of peaches, grapes, nuts or other ex­otic things in Cape Bre­ton. Peo­ple call me to give me recipes, or to tell me how much my food pro­mo­tion has in­spired them. I re­ceive emails and thank-you notes from farm­ers for the work I do. I am asked to come and speak at events and share my pas­sion about local food. I am con­stantly filled with feel­ings of joy and be­long­ing in my com­mu­nity. This is my pas­sion and it makes me richer than you can imag­ine!

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