The following piece is part of a regular column in the local newspaper that Brenda writes, often inspired by our farm journey and adventures. It first appeared in The Chautauqua in 2012.
A friend of mine commented that these days my role is less of a farmer and more of a driver: taking van loads of chicken to Calgary; picking up our beef and distributing it to the families who have ordered quarters and sides; attending a cooking course where our geese are being showcased.
I don’t like driving but it’s worth it when you get to meet the people who are going to be enjoying the product that you have worked hard to raise. We meet in parking lots or gather at a house – filling up coolers and freezers and getting to know each other as we go. I have one woman who I see almost every trip to Calgary – she gets a few chickens and we catch up on our latest endeavors in the kitchen with making vinegars, wines and other items. This last trip to Calgary I was invited in for a tea during my morning delivery and then fed a delicious lunch at the next. While meeting a group in a local parking lot – I was handed homemade fudge ‘for the drive’.
I normally return from the city drained but this time I came home energized. Not only by the wonderful food and treats but by the many encouraging conversations and visits along the way.
Yes, a big part of my job at this time of year is being the delivery person but these trips are about more than that – they are about connecting, getting feedback, building trust. In business terms – they are a key in our marketing and advertising strategy.
However it is about more than business—these trips are about building relationships – the kinds of relationships that endure.
Now a days there is a lot of hype on ‘buy local’ – for me, this is what buying local is about. Not that the product itself came from 15 or 99 or 150km away but because I have a relationship with the people who produced it and I know their practices, their motivations and they know me.
The people we are feeding are becoming more than customers – they are peers who we are learning with, they are investors in our farm and us, they want to see us succeed and share in our journey. These are the relationships that will build a food system I feel confident in and enjoy eating from.