This week was our fourth week of planting - starting seeds. I've had my first heartbreaking loss of the season already. Nearly one-third of my artichoke sprouts perished from too much heat/lack of water as we learn how to grow in our new indoor set up. That's the way life goes; some things flourish, while others perish. I took a few minutes to be angry and heartbroken and then went back to planting more seeds of various types of vegetables. We can't be stopped by our losses or failures, but we can learn from them.
It has been an amazing experience to be part of and witness Indy's local food movement take root and begin to flourish. Neither the process of growth, nor the community itself has been without loss. A look back at the list of our first and second season vendors shows loss and addition within our growth to season three. A look back at the Indianapolis local food scene from 2008 to present is equally striking. Yet, no loss or failure has brought the movement to a halt. On the contrary, I think we have learned and grown stronger. In the first two months of 2011, new and exciting developments have been realized that are sure to bring only more growth - new farms, new farmers, new food education coalitions, new food and beverage establishments and more. Even as we are losing farmers, losing farmland, and losing out to Agribusiness interests. We can only hope the balance continues to work itself out in favor of the farmers, consumers, environment and future generations. I believe it will, if we keep learning and observing and supporting each other as community in our work.
One of the most exciting new programs to grow at the IWFM this year has been a voucher program for low-income seniors. This voucher program was made possible by funding from Gleaners Food Bank and a partnership with the Indiana Housing Agency. Over the course of the season we have had voucher recipients come to the market to buy produce, meats and other whole foods. Last week we had a record number of attendees in one week. It reinforced two things for me. First, that the IWFM is and has been more diverse in population served than it is often credited. Second, that there is tremendous potential and receptivity to better serve a diverse population. Together, we can tip the balance in favor of healthier communities, in which we are all more invested in each other and our equal and unlimited ability to flourish.
We promise that the IWFM will continue to work to grow and nurture new and returning farmers and food producers, while seeking continuously to better serve a broader spectrum of the populations with access to "Good, Clean, Fair food."
~ Laura Henderson, IWFM Founder & Executive Director