In these days after Thanksgiving, I’m holding tight to my feelings of gratitude for the many blessings in my life, one being the abundance of delicious local food I enjoyed during our holiday feast! As I reflect on this feeling, I’m reminded of something a speaker at a conference I attended years ago said, “What you appreciate, appreciates.” This remark has stuck with me and comes back to me often, especially in my day-to-day work with farmers. There is so much to appreciate in the work of farmers, but not all are as obviously visible as the food that we find in the aisles at the Co-op.
Farmers steward our landscape and through their work, they sustain Vermont’s signature working landscape – the pastures, crops, and barns along our roadways that form the foundation of our state’s iconic image. Many farms pride themselves in implementing practices to actively build the health of the soil. Through this caretaking, they increase the resilience of our ecosystem by building up the capacity for the land to store carbon and increase stormwater storage. These practices are important ways that farmers are increasing the resiliency of the land to weather as our climate changes. Moreover, many farmers also implement special programs to make sure that all members of their communities, regardless of income, can also access their products.
For all these reasons and more, I appreciate the work of farmers. While it’s natural to think about gratitude and farmers when we sit down to a delicious meal, I think it’s important to also remember all the other benefits our society gains when we support local producers. And, if you’re still basking in the gratitude of the season, try reaching out to a local farmer to share your thanks for all they do. I know they’ll be glad to hear it and you’ll feel good too. If you don’t know a farmer, have a look around the Coop at the posters introducing you to the farmers who sell their products right on our shelves.
Erin Buckwalter is a Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op Board Member.