The planning season is upon us and many farmers are probably also at different levels of completion with their 2020 plans. A few months ago I made a list of my own 2020 plans. You can visit that particular blog here. I think it's important to be as transparent as possible on EB Ranch, plus I'm just excited about the prospect of some pretty big and good changes coming to the farm.
What I want to focus on right now is in some ways more personal. After Bob and I moved back to Ridgeland over ten years ago, I realized that not only did I want to homestead I wanted to be more involved in my community. It started off with loosely organizing a "Stone Soup" Farmers Market in Ridgeland. People and businesses would donate ingredients then individuals would make a "stone soup" with those ingredients. And that would revolve around having a small farmers market. It was a good gathering of people eating good food and hanging out.
As things go, organizing the event got to be too much. And thankfully, as of last year the Civic Club took over the responsibility of organizing a weekly farmers market in Ridgeland. Other opportunities to organize and participate arose over the years. Through this process of participation, I realized I had to narrow down the what and why of participating in groups. A person can quickly become overwhelmed by participating too much. And it's important to participate in organizations that ring true to your own personal ideals and operate in a way that works well for you.
After some years, and some coaxing from friends and researching of my own I joined the WI Farmers Union. This organization has been around for a long time, and with some navigation I found they had a decent amount of resources to offer.
Farmers Union has been a launching board for organizing potlucks, farm tours, pasture walks, and last falls' successful Community Grown Harvest Dinner. Farmers Union works with other organizations like Pheasants Forever to help orchestrate many of these events.
I am also on the board for the "rare and critically endangered" cooperatively run small and local paper called the Hay River Review. Small local papers like this are far and few between, many have died off over the recent years. Yet, papers like this are the lifeblood of small communities. They offer the month's events and other social gatherings. Not to mention all the businesses that advertise in them. I still scan my copy of the HRR for contact information of local businesses. This also allows local people to be journalists, and cover local politics and many other stories.
In 2020, I plan on stepping back a bit from so much extra curricular activity. After doing my 2019 bookkeeping, I saw a devastating plummet in my own farm business during a particularly hard few months of dealing with some organization issues. I wasn't advertising, I wasn't taking on new retail business, I wasn't following through with my own business plan. I need to find balance this year.
This doesn't mean I'm not going to participate in any outside organizations. I still will and happily so. But I'm going to say no to a lot. And with that, I have a suggestion or maybe a big ask of people out there. And by no means is this a guilt trip, but I suggest that folks consider taking on more small roles in your own community. The Hay River Review is always looking for more board members and writers. Farmers Union is so fun and you can participate on so many levels. And of course, think about supporting a local farm like EB Ranch. Not only do I raise heritage goats and poultry, I care for my land and I care for my community. Having this farming lifestyle gives me enough flexibility to give back on this kind of participation level. The more people that take on small pieces of participation, the more it get's spread around the less of a load others feel. Participation is also empowering, and gives everyone opportunities to have their voices heard and possibly make change.
I'm not writing this to pat myself on the back or to seek thank you's or attention. I'm writing this to possibly empower other people. I also want to be transparent with other aspects of my life. Community participation isn't everyone's "thing" and I totally get that! In many cases, when you support transparent farms these farms also support the surrounding community in many other ways besides provide food and goods. It provides a fertile ground for people to grow, learn, and participate. This goes for locally owned businesses as well.
One last bit I want to add to this. Personally, I like being challenged and questioned as this gives me a different perspectives to ponder. I believe that being part of organized groups is hard as we often have varying opinions and view points on matters. This gives us much needed opportunities to learn how to LISTEN, communicate and leave our egos at the door to find solutions. We all have emotions and logic to help us communicate our view points. We all fumble from time to time with how we give and receive communications. Over the years I have dealt with a lot of sexist, bigoted and even verbally violent and threatening dialogue. It's not fun, it's emotionally draining, but it's also learning opportunities. And thankfully I have lots of people around me to help navigate those tough situations.
As always, thank you for the support! And thank you to all the people out there that are doing what they can do. Thank you for the encouragement, ideas, and solutions. Thank you to the people who helped create paths in the past and thank you to the people that are paving those paths and making new branches now and for the future.
**Sorry for the lack of pictures, my weebly domain has been buggy for the last 10 hours.**
Born and raised in a small town, then moved back to the same small town. Jill of many trades and happy to be so.