When it comes to buying local food, some of the benefits are obvious. More money in the local economy, less reliance on products from elsewhere, more environmental sustainability, reliability, and accountability; these are often the first potential positive results that come to mind.
But I wanted to explore what particular benefits may be seen from the perspective of emerging or prospective farmers and/or farm workers. In my view, a key component of buying locally grown food is that it increases the capacity for our regional farmers to hire employees interested in exploring a livelihood in farming and pay them fairly for their labour. As I have noted in previous articles, we desperately need new folks to take up the shovel and hoe, and to do this there must be incentive, value, and respect. However often our farmers are in a pickle – they don’t earn enough from the farm to pay a living wage and attract committed workers. So for consumers, purchasing locally is one way to help resolve this dilemma.
I asked our CAT participants to share their thoughts on buying local. Their voices speak clearly to their values and commitment:
“Support local farmers…I feel that if we keep these farmers and farmer’s families, [we can] pass on knowledge and keep it growing.” Darrell
“A community that supports its farmers creates resiliency to be better prepared to face challenges and celebrate joys.” Abbi
“A thriving local food economy is the best insurance for food for everyone in our community. It’s an investment that will pay off dividends in the future. Good jobs, good health and good community.” Bre
These are just some thought-provoking insights from young folks eager to become part of a thriving local food system. Please think of them when you are making your food purchases throughout the season of feasting and celebration!
Happy Everything, Everyone 🙂
-Stephanie Cottell, Cowichan Agricultural Training Program Supervisor