Regrouping Together

At the Beginning of Last week…

I was feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work after a relaxing holiday.  With uncharacteristic optimism, I was keen to write a blog on resilience, full of the many examples from our local food community.  

Then by the end of last week…. I was not feeling resilient, just deflated and exhausted.

It only took a few days of juggling work, homeschooling, and a constantly full house to take the wind out of my sails.

And I know I am not alone.  

I watched as each member of my family struggled to stay optimistic as online school was extended.  The fatigue of adapting to constantly changing routines and goals, was quickly multiplied as people lost patience with each other.

Each of my friends and family who took the time to listen to my venting last weekend had their own stories of struggling to take in the chaos of the first week of 2021.After some moping and feeling frustrated and unsure how to move forward effectively I slowly found my footing to regroup.

I believe a community is simply an extension of a family, so I’d like to share with you the shift in my thinking that helped us personally to regroup as a family.

Life can be hard, but we are not weak or helpless.

The first part of this statement may seem simple but it is important to understand.  Life can be hard!  Covid does suck!  We have all had to make sacrifices.  Some of us are really hurting.  It is ok to be tired.

We are like marathon runners in the middle of a race.  Feeling fatigued at this stage does not equal weakness.  It  is to be expected, we’ve been at this for a long time.  We know we still have a long way to go and that is ok. It  is time to look back to remind ourselves how far we have come, so we can look forward and plan to use our energy effectively.

We have already accomplished much and made changes we might have never thought  possible before. We have all relearned how to shop, work and socialize while keeping each other safe and numbers low.  I loved watching this community learn new skills around our food.  Many people have learned to grow their own food for the first time, others stepped up to teach and encourage.  It was great to hear about people enjoying the bounty of their gardens and sharing it with others as well as the local food bank. Way to go! 

The strain we are under now is causing many cracks to show, but it is also showing us where we are strong.

Covid has put a strain on our mental health, our finances, and our local and global food systems, to name just a few areas. The cracks in our systems have been easy to see.  Take a closer look at each issue and you can see the areas that have held together.  This is where we can see our strengths and find the best lessons on how to rebuild.

In our food system we have seen major issues with large scale processing plants, but our local small butcher shops have continued to work hard throughout this pandemic.  This has helped to buffer some of the resulting issues.  Now imagine if we could rebuild a local food system that takes advantage of the strength of many small businesses.  Imagine how much more stable it would be with many small supports rather than a few large ones. 

Lastly; each of our blessings, skills and resources are different.  By sharing them with each other we can support each other effectively.

We all know, by now, that we are in this together. It also helps to remember that we are stronger together. It is because of our differences that this is true. There is strength in diversity.

Taking stock of our gifts, allows us to be grateful and remember what is most important to us.  It also allows ust to take stock of the resources that we have and identify what we may need. Some days we will be able to share what we have with others and some days we will need to ask for help.

In our house this meant me taking advantage of the flexibility of my work hours to provide extra support for online school, household structure and meal planning. In return many of the evening jobs were reassigned to the kids so that I could get some work done in the evening hours.  Readjusting the expectations allowed us to share our time resources more effectively.

After a deflating start to 2021 we have finished the second week in much better shape.  I imagine we will have many more days when we need a regroup this year.  Sometimes we will do it well and other  times it will be messy, and that is ok.

Being intentional about the way we regroup as a family, or community, can allow us to rebuild something better than before. In the process I hope we can continue to look after ourselves and each other.  It’s ok to be exhausted at times, that is not failure or weakness, but rather a sign of what you have accomplished so far.

Times they are a-changn’

It has been almost 2 months since life changed so drastically for everyone in Ontario. Many parts of life have been turned upside down as we are all working together to fight an invisible threat. Staying home, washing our hands and keeping our distance has become a powerful role we each can play. In the Newman household we have settled in to a different, but still busy normal. We have had moments of frustration with the situation and each other, but on the whole we understand that we are very fortunate.

I have all my children home safe. We have plenty of space and work to maintain a feeling of normalcy. I am not sure if we have managed it, but I do hope we have made some good memories made for the kids. My oldest son has just finished his first year of college, so I am keenly aware that the opportunities for us all to just hang out are limited.

I have been trying to keep these positives in mind as I adjust to the ever changing new reality. For some this reality includes a real threat to their health and job security. Almost everyone is dealing with many uncertainties. Most of us are facing the uncertainty of what our work will look like, where our food will come from and how our life and business expectations will change.

Over the last couple months, I have been impressed by the ability of local businesses to pivot their strategies. Equally impressive has been the support shown by our community for these small businesses, demonstrating the great strength of our community. Local restaurants have been especially good examples of adaptability. The speed with which these wonderful businesses have switched to pick up and delivery of family style meals, date night offerings and even coffee delivered to people’s homes is inspiring! Great work everyone!

I would also like to commend our local arbitrators on their hard work. Maintaining safety while growing to meet demand has meant long hours and an increased workload. These critical businesses have worked around the clock to add infrastructure, increase cleaning and add new levels of customer service. Three cheers to The Beefway and Elora Road Meats in particular. Keep up the great work!

The growing season has begun and just like so many of our other local businesses, farmers are adapting to ensure safety and food security for our area. We are slowly moving out of crisis mode and into COVID management. We know that will mean farmers markets will not look the same this season. Many of us count on these markets for our fresh produce each week.

True to form, local producers are tackling this problem with a range of creative solutions. There is sure to be something that will fit your new reality so no one has to go without local produce this year.

A few of our local producers are moving towards a CSA model of sales. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture (see previous blog for more information). This model has been around for a long time and the greatest thing about it is the security that it provides. The producer receives job and financial security from the customer prepaying for the season and guaranteeing weekly sales. It is always good to know that your hard work is going to be appreciated. In return, the customer will receive fresh produce all season long.

If this sounds just right for you or your family you can sign up now for one of these great options.

A Still Small Farm is offering a weekly or biweekly subscription box. Andrew is born and raised in Ripley. He provides a greens focused produce box. With 10 years of growing experience, he grows using organic methods. Boxes can be picked up each week at a convenient location in Kincardine. You can even add a home delivery option to your box.

Streicher’s Family Farm is offering a weekly small or large produce box. The farm is located just outside of Kincardine. The Streicher family has been offering their organically grown produce at the Kincardine Monday market for the last 10 years. With the market on hold until at least July they have decided to put together a weekly box for you. Boxes will include a minimum of 8 vegetables every week, including strawberries in season. With free delivery to the Kincardine area this is a great deal. Bulk produce is also available in season. Contact me for pricing and contact information.

Mixed produce boxes are similar to a CSA subscription box,but without the commitment.

Ruetz Family Farm is another familiar face from the Monday market. To ensure we don’t miss out on their early produce, they will be offering mixed boxes available for pre-order each week with a pick up location in Kincardine. They are also offering bulk sales when available so keep an eye on their Facebook page for the final details.

Needful Things Produce continues to put together produce boxes each week from a collection of local sources. Safe pick up in Kincardine is available.

In contrast to the CSA style of sales we have a couple businesses who have gone digital.

Beacon Hill Farm Market has been bringing us local meats, baking and produce to their stand just north of Kincardine for many years now. This year, Mike and Heidi have opened an online store to help maintain social distancing while shopping. They are open now each Thursday for weekly ordering.

Franklin Produce is new on the scene, but I expect big things from them. Katie Franklin is growing produce this summer between her semesters at university. Thanks to the help of her family, she was able to get an early start on things and will be ready to go soon. Keep an eye on this one as she launches her online order system in the near future!

Eat Local Grey Bruce has always been an online local option. This food cooperative is a gateway to dozens of local producers. This organization has recently seen a surge in popularity. They have had to put a cap on orders to ensure high quality service, but I know all the staff is working around the clock to meet demand. I expect that we will see this wonderful order and delivery service continue to grow and be available to more people as the season continues.

There is still hope for market style shopping!

The Kincardine Farmers Market is currently working with Public Health to design a safe shopping atmosphere. This market normally opens Saturday mornings at Connaught park, and consists of wonderful collections of local farmers who sell home grown food each week. They are hoping to be open June 6th so stay tuned.

Of course when it comes to local food security it is important to support our full time producers. In these uncertain times they are more important than ever. We can all supplement our grocery bill in our backyards as well. Not only will growing your own food fill your stomach, it is also a fun and healthy activity.

Whether you are just starting out or already a pro you should check out Kinship Gardeners This new Facebook page is a great source of advice and sharing. You never stop learning in the garden. How amazing to have a community develop around growing food.

With so many things that are uncertain right now at least we know that we have the growing season ahead of us. Producers are ready to go and now you know how to find them.

Sign up for a subscriptions box, shop online, Like some Facebook pages or plant your own seeds to take the uncertainty out of grocery shopping. We are fortunate here in Bruce county to have some great producers, wonderful local businesses and a strong community to tie it all together.

If I missed someone who you are looking forward to getting local produce from please leave a comment so that we can add them to our list. Let’s keep supporting one another!

See you soon


PS Thanks to a community comment we have another link to share.

Voisin’s Family Farm would normally be accessible at the Monday Farmers Market. They have gone to an online ordering system with a local pick up spot in Kincardine. Be sure to check them out as well.

Life will go on, but How?

In the Newman house, we have spent the last week regrouping and learning what life looks like while social distancing. Like people everywhere we are trying to readjust to a world in a constant state of flux, but the plant and animal life on the farm seems unconcerned. To emphasis this point, today we had our first hatch of new chicks. This remarkable event usually marks the beginning of a very busy growing season for us. This year it feels even more moving, a sign that nature is uninterrupted by covid-19. We are still growing food and signs of spring are everywhere. The birds are still returning from their southern vacations, without a time of isolation. Thank goodness we have been faced with this challenge in spring and not winter.

We are keeping a watchful eye on our toilet paper supply, but in general we consider ourselves quite fortunate to have the whole family healthy, a freezer full of food and a reasonable amount of financial security.

I am very grateful for the diminished disruption to our lives that this affords, especially when compared with what many others are facing. The farm provides space and plenty of work to keep everyone occupied while maintaining some normalcy to daily life.

We have still faced our share challenges this week. It has taken extra patience and organization to ensure that each member of the family needs and concerns were met, so we could all be calm and work as a team, (that is code for not biting each other heads off.) We have made the decision to isolate from the grandparents and we miss them already. We have also tried to assist assist where ever we can with extended family and community.

Of course that support is not one way, we have received some help as well. On that note, I would like to take a moment to introduce my little sister Christine! She is all grown up now and wont appreciate me reminding her how much older and wiser I am, (emphasis on wiser,) but what are sisters for? Christine will be helping with communications while I shift my focus to the tasks that come with the onset of the growing season. Thanks sis!

Christine is a mother, an artist and among other things she is a much better writer then myself so you might notice a change for the better in our Facebook presence. Please welcome Christine to our little local food family when you contact us. Thanks to her you will have faster response to your inquiries while I manage our family work crew.

I will still be here to share photos of what is growing on the farm and to greet you, (from a distance,) when you pick up your orders.

Thank you for your patience as we have regrouped this week. There has been an increased interest in local food and we are working to ensure that our supply chain has minimal interruptions.

A big thank you to our farmers, who are still working hard everyday and our processors who are busier then ever trying to keep thing running while ensuring employ and customer safety. The ingenuity of our local restaurants during this time should be noted as well. They are innovating constantly to keep doing what they love in these strange times.

We don’t know how this will change our lives yet and we all have a lot of work to do to support our friends, neighbours, front line workers and community, but hopefully everyone has a small space of outdoor air so they can take a minute to breath and be reminded that life will go on.

Sincerely Heather Newman