The Fourth of July is here. Around here, it's the time of year for the local county fair, plus fireworks and parades here and in nearby towns. When we celebrate America, we seem to start by being more active in our communities- I think that's why when we think “Independence Day” we associate it with the kind of neighborhood get-togethers where family, friends and neighbors congregate. The kind of events that center around food, conversation, and games like horseshoes or volleyball.
There was an editorial article in last week's daily paper commenting about community and buying local. A woman had recently opened, of all things, a bookstore. The odds of a bookstore succeeding in the age of Kindles and Amazon is shockingly slim. The only ones that do are the ones that have a group of loyal customers who value personal service above cut-rate prices. They appreciate the personal service, and understand that paying the full cover price is the difference between having quirky little shops thrive and empty, boarded-up storefronts.
The same is quite true with your food. Although the farmer's market hours may not be the most convenient, the quality and freshness are unbeatable. The price at the local farm might be a little higher than the Super Mega Mart's, but your money is staying local. You know it's going straight to the farmer that grew the crops, instead of corporate execs who pay the laborers out in the field slave wages. And any time you can spend locally, your money stays in the community. I know here at the farm, we patronize lots of local businesses. Obviously, the businesses where we get the cheese and coffee, but lots more than that too-local, family-owned (not chain) business: the gas station, grocery store, hardware store, feed mill, restaurants, our Amish neighbor's saw mill. And keeping money in the community means jobs for our neighbors, who can then choose to buy locally, too.
Sure, there are plenty of times where we run errands and go to places like Home Depot and Wal-Mart. Sometimes it's because we can't find what we're looking for locally, and sometimes we just need to watch our budget like everyone else. It's not a crime to do so. But if all of us made it a point to spend a little more money in our own communities, at business owned by local folks, we can make a difference in the amount of small business that serve our communities.