Recently I re-read Wendell Berry’s 2012 Jefferson Lecture of the National Endowment for the Humanities and I came across what I find so often in his writing – reasons to be hopeful. Here is the excerpt that inspired me:
“The losses and damages characteristic of our present economy certainly cannot be stopped, let alone restored, by “liberal” or “conservative” tweakings of corporate industrialism, against which the ancient imperatives of good care, homemaking, and frugality can have no standing. The possibility of authentic correction comes, I think, from two already-evident causes. The first is scarcity and other serious problems arising from industrial abuses of the land-community. The goods of nature so far have been taken for granted and, especially in America, assumed to be limitless, but their diminishment, sooner or later un-ignorable, will enforce change.
A positive cause, still little noticed by high officials and the media, is the by now well-established effort to build or re-build local economies, starting with economies of food. This effort to connect cities with their surrounding rural landscapes rests exactly upon the recognition of human limits and the necessity of human scale. Its purpose, to the extent possible, is to bring producers and consumers, causes and effects, back within the bounds of neighborhood, which is to say the effective reach of imagination, sympathy, affection, and all else – including enough food – that neighborhood implies. An economy genuinely local and neighborly offers to localities a measure of security they cannot derive from a national or a global economy controlled by people who, by principle, have no local commitment. “
Our board member, Sarah Fritschner, in her work for Louisville Farm to Table, seeks to do exactly that – bring rural producers together with consumers in urban areas, thus helping the farmer by offering the dependability of contracts and meeting the considerable demand in Louisville for a secure source of locally produced food.
In addition, a project that the Berry Center supports, has generated a lot of hopeful anticipation locally. A meat processing facility will soon be located in Campbellsburg, Kentucky in Henry County. The Trackside Butcher Shoppe will process beef, pork, lamb, goats, chickens, rabbits and deer. The benefits to our area are many: livestock producers here will no longer have to drive 90 minutes to the nearest processing plant; a local facility and lower transportation cost will encourage new producers to enter the marketplace; new jobs; and importantly, people will be spending money in the county.
The project, certainly a boon to the local economy, has received initial funding to begin construction. The supporters for this endeavor are many: the Agricultural Development Boards and other local agencies in Henry and several surrounding counties, elected officials, utilities, farmers and consumers.
County Judge Executive, John Logan Brent said that he was told by a member of the Governor’s Office for Agricultural Policy, that this was the most community support he’s ever seen for this kind of project. He said, “Now that’s something to be proud of.”
…and hopeful about!