Thursday, December 15, 2011

V515_Related Events x1

“The Local Growers Guild creates a local foods system that provides quality food to communities through direct markets and retailers; preserves the viability of family farms; improves the quality of life for growers; makes food issues visible; and promotes practices that preserve and protect the Earth.” ~LGG Mission Statement 

Reflections on the Local Growers Guild’s Harvest Dinner

Zip-tied to a trashcan on the south-east corner of People’s Park, there’s a large, laminated sign that – on the very bottom – explains a couple of concepts that have surprising application to community-supported agriculture, the local & slow food movements, and, by derivation, the Harvest Dinner.  “Transformational honesty” and “radical listening” are practices that extend beyond interpersonal interaction, and have everything to do with how we relate to our natural & built environments.

 And, yes, the Revolution (or Renaissance 2.0, as I like to think of it) applies to everything.

But before we get back to all that “changing the world” shenanigans, what’s this Local Growers Guild?

What’s in a Harvest Dinner?

Yeah, we’ve all heard of fast-food…but slow food?

Lovable Guerilla Gardeners

…is not the LGG I’m referencing (though some members of the LocalGrowers Guild might very well be lovable guerilla gardeners…in fact, I hope that that is the case…or that it could become so, through dialogue…).

From what I can ascertain, the Local Growers Guild has been around since about 2007 and was born from 30 years of Bloomingtonian passion for the Farmers Market.  It operates as a cooperative (bonus points) for small and medium scale growers, many of which are community supported agriculture projects. 

Though it is an integrative and community-supported organization, word on the grapevine is that the LGG is struggling to maintain its structure and its finances.  It was an unfortunate affair that the LGG, this Fall, was unable to finance the rent for their office at the Center forSustainable Living  [b/w 3rd and 2nd on Walnut]…thankfully though, others in the co-op community were there to lend a hand, as some Blooningfoods admins helped facilitate the some storage space in their office complex.

There’s a great deal of difficulty in creating a cooperative micro-market, and matching supply with demand is an information and logistics problem that plagues even the largest and IT-integrated commercial markets.  If you’re out there, they’re in the (pro bono) market for a logistical system to help facilitate the integration of the market and the maintenance of the cooperative.

Still, the LGG stays solvent through a number of wonderful events, one of which being the annual Harvest Dinner.  It was delightful, seeing so many familiar Bloomington faces (even our own Amy Jo Coutryman), and I was happy to have a good friend along to share the experience.  The conversations were wonderful and my luck was with me in the raffle, as I happened to pick a beautiful photo of synchronizing starlings, which was taken by one of the members of Bloomington Cooperative Living. [to be posted!]

The menu was fantastic and they have the display online:

Prepared by Eric Sjaaheim of Happy Pig
Popcorn • Butternut Squash and Mushroom Fritters
with Braised Greens and Sorghum Gastrique
Paired with Dragonfly Beer • Vidal Blanc Sparkling Wine
Donors: Meadowlark Farm, LIFE Farm,
Renaissance Polyculture, Fields of Agape

Prepared by Alan Simmerman of Bloomingfoods Market & Deli
Goat Burgoo garnished with Popcorn Hominy, Mustard Greens,
Leeks, and Garlic, served with a Corn Bread Crouton
Paired with Preservation Pilsner • Chamborcin
Donors: Liberty Pastures, Fields of Agape,
Strangers Hill Organics, Sage Gardens

Prepared by Seth Elgar of Upland Brewery
Mixed Local Salad Greens and Brussels Sprouts in a Cider Vinaigrette
with Radishes, Apples, Butternut Squash, and Roasted Pepitas
Paired with Wheat Beer • Creekbend Pinot Grigio
Donors: Musgrave’s Orchard, Stranger’s Hill Organics, Turner Farm

Prepared by Corbin Morwick of One World Catering
Southern style ham and grits, with red-eye gravy
and an autumn vegetable hash
Paired with Komodo Dragonfly Beer • Cabernet Sauvignon
Donors: WE Farm, Fields of Agape, Squash-o-Rama, Stranger’s Hill, Heartland Family Farm, Spring Hill Farm, Renaissance Polyculture

Prepared by Damian Esposito of IMU Catering
Sweet Potato Bavarian on Apple Spice Cake with Flax Cookie
Paired with Bourbon Barrel Winter Warmer • The Late Harvest Vignole
Donors: Heartland Family Farm, Olde Lane Orchard, Fields of Agape

Bread provided by Muddy Fork Bakery
Coffee provided by Brown County Coffee

The emphasis, in the LGG and in the dinner, particularly, is on keeping things local.  And this is where Renaissance 2.0 comes in…being something like a movement of movements, there are many Occupiers that support and advocate for both the Local First and the Slow Food movements.  The bottom of the aforementioned sign reads:

Lastly, Please Consider These Ideas:
Some of us have been very engaged, not only in enjoying and sharing food, shelter, & social support, but have emphasized:

Radical Listening:  A deep, deliberately paced, and compassionate practice intended to establish clear communication and mutual understanding.


Transformational Honesty:  A breaking-down of outmoded, socially distancing, internal reservations about the judgment of others, motivated by a recognition of our common humanity and common life.  Recognizing that we share these unnecessary burdens – personal fears, insecurities, or self-doubt – motivates the courage to speak and act truthfully, knowing that the motivations of our hearts will lead us to personal and social peace. Our safety net is each other, as we practice forgiveness for the stumbles inherent in the life-long journey of discovering ourselves and our common humanity.

Love and Solidarity

What does this have to do with local food? Or Community-supported agriculture? The Harvest Dinner?

Well, most of it doesn’t, but some interesting conversations have led me to relax the limits of my thinking, when speaking about matters of truth and authenticity. 

Transformational honesty is about more than speaking your mind, calling-it like you see-it, fessing-up, or speaking plainly. 

Transformational honesty is quite often difficult, uncomfortable, and uncertain. 

But transformational honesty is a wonderful practice in mindfulness and can help to cultivate both the new and existing social skills that people need to coordinate and manage sustainable communities.

xPic of Charis & Michael fiddlinx

Then, how does this relate to the LGG, Slow Food and Local First?

Somewhere in northern Indiana, returning from a road-trip, my friend Charis and I were intensely discussing what “the movement” or “the revolution” meant…was it strictly a social movement? Was it a revolution in consciousness?  In what ways was it important, effective, social, personal?  Could it be done in daily life? Did it require group activity or personal reflection?  Though I feel it to include all of things, the idea that hit-home the hardest was, as you might’ve guessed, transformational honesty. Not only was this something that could be a personal practice in daily life and a social practice in groups, but it’s a way that whole communities can be oriented: a community can be transformationally honest in embracing the unique limitations and opportunities that it’s natural environment affords, with respect to food production, skill-sets and other trades.  Embracing Local First and Slow Food are ways for communities to be transformationally honest with themselves, and helps to reinforce the idea that it is most sustainable to work within our natural boundaries.

Though I appreciate all modes of transformational honesty…this one I can eat!

1 comment:

  1. Um, I wanna see this alleged fiddle picture! There is very little photographic evidence of me with a fiddle in the last, like, ten years.