Deepening the Local Economy

Eds Note: Kevin Korpela, of the Downtown Grocery fame had a few comments on the post “Deep Economy and Happiness,” but I felt its length and importance made it worthy of its own post. Here’s Kevin.

By Kevin Korpela

The individuals/events noted in the post, “Deep Economy and Happiness,” such as Kat and Tony in Athens mentioned by Brendan, the River Drive Farmer’s Market mentioned by Jim, and the return of a re-tooled River District Marketplace on the 400 Block, are examples that can help break the routine in our search for the happiness that is thought to be missing. Fortunately, Central Wisconsin is home to a number of active participants working to nurture community-minded, local-food, and “deep economy” concepts to help find again a new/old state of well-being. The primary vehicle to source a new-old way of thinking as outlined by Bill McKibben might be the return to local economy models. Three active participants — Moonshadow Farm, Farmshed.org, and Downtown Grocery — share with those individuals/events stated above the ability to nurture local-food economy concepts through earth-friendly practices, community organizing, and old-fashioned ideas:

Blaine Tornow and his Moonshadow Farm CSA, , located just west of Wausau is a farm that has been certified organic since 1990. The farm and its connection to people is important to Blaine as he reaches into the community by working with school teachers, such as Mrs Wisse at South Mountain School, to organize farm tours for elementary kids while lending new goslings to the kids to give them a hint of the responsibility and efforts required by farmers to tend the earth and its creatures.

Farmshed is a start-up association working to strengthen farm-to-market connections through community events, farmer presentations, public discussions and targeted projects. This grass-roots organization formed in January 2007 soon after the announcement by Sen. Julie Lassa, Stevens Point, on her plan to lead a “Buy Local, By Wisconsin” Campaign, SB 89. Farmshed is a diverse group of individuals (including farmers, professors, students, and a chef) have met regularly since January to organize a structure, a vision and a mission to grow farm-to-market awareness. Farmshed has successful organized three community events in the past two months and this past week the Steering Committee met as-a-whole for the first time to share ideas and organize its future and its relation to the community.

DowntownGrocery is nine-month old neighborhood grocery store that is trying to combine the best notions of a farmer market experience with the seven-day-a-week advantages of a grocery store and a commercial kitchen. More important perhaps, the store has its own farm and it offers a farm (Moonshadow Farm and its many farmer friends) its own grocery store. The conversational phenomenon of a lively farm market has been witnessed in this store not only by me but by a good number of the store’s customers and staff. It’s sort of an old-fashioned “corner” grocery plus an everyday farmer’s market building community through sharing real food with good conversation while nurturing a local-food economy. The store, of course, is just a small start-up retail store, so there’s plenty ideas to implement but it strives for those Deep Economy concepts explained for “…truly working together not only to make a living, but also to build community in a real sense.”

Many in our society follow routines or seek isolation in the hopes of finding happiness. The examples cited in Bill’s post suggest that there are a number of citizens offering opportunities and options, each in their unique way, to help break routines and encourage conversations to find again that new/old state of well-being. Those opportunities and options include notions of earth-friendliness, community organizing, old-fashioned ideas, and the hopeful return of the viability and vitality of the family farm and its direct farm-to-market connection.

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11 responses to “Deepening the Local Economy

  1. That is a nice article Kevin. The Downtown Grocery is a nice place It offers very good grocery products as well as very good prepared food. I like to see when someone cares about the community, this community and the larger community we all belong to.

    I thought I would also give a link the Stoney Acres Farm, the farm of Kat and Tony Becker. 🙂 This website is quite nice. It contains tabs to explain to you what a CSA(community supported agriculture) is. Also gives you a map to the farmers market in Wausau. Events they have(pancake breakfast in June). And photos of their farm. It helps you see and understand exactly what this is they are doing.

    http://www.stoneyacresfarm.net

  2. Thanks Cotter for the compliment about the article and our community-minded store. I’ve had several good conversations with Kat and Tony, and I’ve good news for you too, because this past week Kat brought into our store a bushel of excellent looking radishes. So stop in the store and grab a bunch for dinner!

  3. Well said. Organize and localize!

  4. Nice quote: “Organize and localize”. Taking your quote plus the education, outreach, or mentoring that was refernced above for the elementary kid and tours of Moonshadow Farm, maybe it’s a three part approach to deepen the local economy. What do you think of this approach … “Educate, Organize, Localize”?

  5. Welcome aboard, Nick. Farmshed looks like a wonderful idea, and looks like it is starting to roll. I hope you will stop by often and let us know how things are going and what is happening.

  6. We could deepen up the local economy by educating our children to learn a foreign language or two…can you even imagine the opportunities that fluent Arabic, Chinese, French or Spanish would open up for our children?

    Wausau is becoming its own multicultural domain, particularly with the help of the Hmong, but also as a byproduct of the hospitals and the rest of the medical field…I would think some entrepreneurially minded person might see the deeply lucrative economic reasons to create a language center in Wausau.

    have a nice weekend,
    Barry

  7. Excellent idea. The other thing I will point out is that there seems to be HUGE opportunities for making money in the environmental and sustainable energy fields.

  8. Has anyone heard about Marsfield ECO COMMUNITY thing?

  9. Here’s some info on that effort, which includes Marshfield:

    http://www.1kfriends.org/Eco-Municipalities.htm

    We have had a few people talking about what we might want to do in Wausau in the area of sustainability and that is something that is worth serious discussion.

  10. Tourism is getting into the swing of green as well. Now when you travel you can check to see who is TravelGreen certified.

    http://www.travelgreenwisconsin.com

  11. The green movement is long overdue. To what extent will basic capitalism take care of this? Someone asserted that people would still drive even if gas was 12$, I don’t think so. Neither do people in the Netherlands…

    Also, I’m enthusiastic that the school district is making a proactive move into language training.

    http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070515/WDH0101/705150600/1981

    UWMC is offering Mandarin Chinese next year in a face-to-face setting.

    It’s beautiful….

    Barry

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