Last week Chuckanut Transition (CT) Initiating Committee tabled at the Skagit Human Rights Festival event which focused on our Skagit Food System. CT highlighted the Valley's bounty and our informal community food system by creating a display of our own local food, much of it home grown or bought at the Bow Little Market (BLM) and processed and swapped at the BLM's Annual Food Swap. Our table overflowed with an abundance of canned and dried foods, grains, potatoes, squash, meat, milk, beer, wine, coffee, cheese, eggs, granola and fresh harvests of greens, edible flowers, carrots and beets. In the month of March, typically thought of as the least abundant month for food, I estimate we had enough variety to easily serve three different delicious meals a day for a week.
It is amazing the bounty we have when we pool our resources. Five members of the Chuckanut Transition Initiating Committee brought food from their larders, but when I got to thinking about how much of this food was traded between a larger network of folks, I counted at least 13 other people who indirectly contributed to the food at the table. For example, I brought my neighbor's goat milk and cheese that I trade for a share of my garden harvest, and Chris brought Peter and Willow's potatoes that he traded for winter squash.
Participation in Bow Little Market Buying Groups is another contributing factor to shared prosperity because buying cooperatively saves you money! For example, the eggs came from chickens fed on cooperatively bought Montague Farm's grain and supplements from Harley of Bow Hill Organics buying club. Organic, grass fed ground beef was bought at a bulk rate through our Island Grown Cooperative buying group.
Many say buying local is just too expensive, but I have found through networking and cooperation that my food budget is actually shrinking. During a time of rising food prices and insecurity, I feel confident that my larder and wallet can stay both full and local. Four years ago, I was feeling exhausted and isolated on my farm, and my family was still far away from a local, seasonal diet. Overwhelmed and fearful of our failing economic system, depleted environment and unpredictable climate, I decided that I needed to expand my efforts towards sustainability to encompass my community as well. Now my community is my garden and through its infinite resource I find prosperity and security.