While I was growing up in the Midwest suburbs in the 80s and 90s, with big box stores and strip malls exploding on every corner, my parents had a garden.
It was long and wide, the soil covered with black plastic to keep it moist and warm. Walls of chicken wire supported stalks of sugar snap peas and green beans. Broad prickly leaves protected the zucchini and yellow squash underneath, and three-pronged metal cages kept tomato plants upright as they heaved under the weight of the beefsteak and Roma fruits.
To this day, when I garden in my own tiny raised bed, 2,600 miles away from that plot on Heatherwood Lane, the fresh snap of a peapod, the rough leaves of the squash plants and the perfume of the tomato plants vividly bring me back to my parents’ garden.
I didn’t know it at the time, but they were preparing me for a life of wealth through food.
And I believe strongly that our co-op can do the same thing.
I know. It sounds a little dramatic. But I really think it’s true.
Here in Kitsap, I found farmers who grew those familiar foods, and other foods I’d never heard of as a child. I had a vision: I wanted to bring that food to our community, to those who wanted it and to those who didn’t know they wanted it. So I got involved, as a board member, in the Bremerton Farmers Market during its first years of operation.
Call me selfish too. I lived next door to the market. I wanted my own produce stand. I got it.
Now as a member of the Kitsap Community Food Co-op board, I want my own grocery store. I want my grocery store to be filled with food from those farmers, some of whom I now call friends. I want to walk into my grocery store and ask my butcher, who I’ll know by name, where that ground beef came from. I’ll go over to the home supplies aisle and be able to find a friend’s soap that is made down the street.
Yes, we’ve been at this for seven years. Yes, it’s taking a while. But we’re actually on track, per the national trend of how long it takes to get co-ops up and running.
So, it’s going to happen in Kitsap. But it can’t happen without you.
You. And me. And your family. And your friends. We know you share the same passion for local food, artisan products and locally made goods.
Think of it this way: this store is like a garden. We won’t get anything from it if we don’t tend it. We need to nurture it, water it, feed it, attend to it.
This garden needs all the help it can get, from all of us.