Last weekend, the UN came to the Saturday Winters Farmers Market in Rutland. Actually, the Vermont Farmers Food Center (VFFC) hosted the “Grace Initiative” also called “Initiative for Governance, Reconciliation and Coexistence,” a nonprofit founded by Yvonne Lodico of Manchester. Governance, reconciliation and coexistence are interdependent and sustain each component for inclusive and peaceful societies. Through governance, coexistence may emerge before reconciliation; reconciliation encourages an integrated and sustainable coexistence, which serves to preclude conflict and violence.
VFFC hosted a UN delegation representing Thailand and Ecuador who came to see if what we do here at the Vermont Farmers Food Center could be replicated elsewhere as a tool for rebuilding peace in places in the world that need such peace making strategies. As VFFC President Greg Cox shared with them, “Breaking bread with each other with food grown from your own hands or your local farmer who feeds you is most probably the best ever act of community building and finding common ground with each other. Whether it’s healing a war torn nation or simply getting to know your new neighbors who moved in across the street and may be different from you, growing and eating local food crosses all walks of life and brings people together.”
The ambassador from Thailand wanted to know how we were getting young people interested in being farmers. In Thailand, the young people growing up on the farms do not stick around and head to the big cities to make money. She said they have little interest in maintaining the countryside farms where they grew up. Kind of like where we in the United States were with the industrial revolution and the rise of corporate farming. Many farms in the United States were abandoned as baby boomers and their parents for convenience, participated in the rise of industrial food like Campbell tomato soup and Wonder Bread sandwiches.
Today, the little farm is still alive and growing all over Vermont, and many young people are making it their life’s work. It’s not about making money. Growing local is about serving our community. We need to remember and appreciate the farmers who grow the food we eat. They are as important as what we are eating together in community. When food is eaten and recognized as sustaining our life-force, a local eater becomes a true believer especially when we start feeling better in many different ways. For whatever reason, when you eat healthy whole foods, you feel healthy.
It doesn’t surprise any of our true believers frequenting our Saturday market that the good people from the UN would be visiting VFFC to learn what we are doing. Mayor Allaire was there to greet them today, and that is a good sign for Rutland. The Grace Initiative aims to foster the transformation of violence through governance, reconciliation and coexistence. We could use that here in our city. For those in Rutland who have not yet been to VFFC, we welcome you. Greens are already in – mixed greens, spinach, kale and much more every Saturday morning and Wednesday afternoons. In community, the true believers in Rutland are eating a lot of greens right now- the first step in peace making. You are invited.
Kathleen Krevetski, RN, Rutland