From the GM: June 2018

by Gary Taylor, June 2018

Hello Co-opers,

On Wednesday the Co-op classroom hosted a "Talk 'n' Taste" staff training led by Lorien Carsey from Blue Moon Farm, one of our largest local produce suppliers, located just 9 miles NE of Urbana. Blue Moon has been around since 1997 and has been Certified Organic since 2001. We learned about soil health and cover cropping. Lorien explained the difference between selecting crop varieties for taste (which they do) versus selecting varieties for shipping (which they don't). During the talk, we tasted Blue Moon Farm salad mix, which we currently carry, as well as kohlrabi and white turnips that will soon be available for purchase at Common Ground. Amazing tasting produce grown within biking distance from the co-op? How awesome is THAT?! 

As I was listening to Lorien speak passionately about Blue Moon and the work they do there, the thoughts that popped into my head were: We are so lucky to have them here! Where would the co-op be without them? What would our produce department look like if they didn't exist? Could the co-op even function without Blue Moon in our picture? My answer was that, while I am sure we could get along if we absolutely had to, our shoppers, owners and the co-op would feel emptier without them. In the midst of these thoughts, Lorien started explaining the importance of the Co-op to Blue Moon Farm. We are their biggest retailer; they depend on us for a large part of their livelihood. So my thoughts drifted to, where would Blue Moon be without the co-op in their picture? Could they exist without us? The answer I came up with was, that while I am sure they would be OK without us if they absolutely had to, they would suffer without us in their picture, the same as we would suffer without them in ours. 

On the drive home I started thinking about how intertwined all of the parts of our lives are, about how this community is the focus of our work at the co-op and how important our community is to our way of life. I began to think about what makes life truly worth living: the family you have and the people you meet in your community. Have you ever experienced the stunned raw emotion brought forth by an unexpected epiphany that has always affected your entire life but had never really considered the enormity of it all? If you have, I am sure you will understand what I am trying to write about today.  

I was the first one home after work on Wednesday. I walked in, let my dogs outside, and on my way back to the bedroom to change clothes, I glanced at a bookshelf where our photo albums are kept. I hadn't really looked at them for awhile. Many have been there for 20 years or so. But this time, I paused. At the time I wasn't quite sure why. In the silence I looked at wedding photos, family reunion photos, class reunion photos. I started thinking about my family and the friends I have made through the years, the impact they have made on me and the impact I have made on them. In my mind I started making connections between all of the humans in the pictures, not just to me, but all of them with each other. From the major impacts of those closest to us to the subtle impacts of distant relatives and past acquaintances, I thought about each of the individual snapshots as though they were all in one large frame... the so called "big picture" if you will. 

Eventually, I put the albums away, and while deep in thought about this big picture, I had the "ah-ha" moment that sometimes strikes suddenly and without warning. The thought occurred to me that "MY" big picture, the sum of all of my little pictures, is just a single snapshot in the even larger big picture that is our community, the community where we all tied together and then tied to even more communities. We are all impacted by everyone around us and everyone around us is impacted by us to some degree. Sure, we could get along without some of the people, or some parts of the picture, but we would be less than we are without them.

In our lifetimes we have many people to thank for making us who we are: relatives, friends, everyone who provides a service, the list goes on. In this newsletter I wish to focus on our local farmers and vendors who are an integral part of our community, taking care of the land around us and producing the food that is safe for us eat. They unselfishly measure their lives not by counting the many hours they have worked each day, but by how much work is accomplished each day. So, to Blue Moon and all of our other local farmers and vendors, I want to say THANK YOU for your dedication, your hard work, and your loyalty! The Co-op, our staff, our shoppers and owners, and the entire Urbana-Champaign community are more, better, and made whole because of YOU!

Thanks for reading,

Gary