LOCAL: Farmers Market, Blooming Neighborhoods — and “Puller Bear”!

This morning podmate Rebecca, nearby neighbor Melissa, and I traipsed on down to the Bloomington Community Farmer’s Market, reputed to be the largest and best in Indiana (at least!) for the 15th annual Blooming Neighbors celebration on the plaza. Here they are, setting up for the 10 AM to noon tabling.

Melissa and Rebecca

This isn’t the first time I have tabled for Green Acres at the Blooming Neighbors celebrations. In fact, my neighbor Georgia and I have been doing this together ever since I first met her, which happened to be at a Blooming Neighbors event in 2003. I had just moved here, my husband had just died, and I was wondering what my neighborhood was called. Aha! There it was, on the map at the table for “Green Acres.” Here’s last year’s story.

Notice the FREE plants under our table: tomatoes, basil and lettuce — leftover from the GANG‘s annual seedling sale here in the garden.

Before the event, I went into the Farmer’s Market with two things in mind: bones for bone broth and honey. And in talking with each of the vendors I chose their stories were so interesting that I asked to take their pictures and write them up here.

First stop, bone broth — which I simmer for three days before drinking to remineralize bones and teeth. The farmer I happened to pick has been on the same land near Martinsville Indiana for seven generations. Can you imagine? Where I come from out west, only Native Americans have been on the land that long.

I asked him, has the farm been in the family uninterrupted all this time? Well, actually, he told me, for one and a half years the farm was NOT in his family. What happened was that his great great grandmother had two sons, neither of whom married, and when they died, left no wills. So the family’s precious farm went up for auction. A local attorney bought it, and just held it, without disturbing a thing. Left all the furniture, the family pictures on the wall, kitchen appliances and silverware, sheets on the beds, everything! A year and a half later he put it up for sale, and his great grandmother’s family then scraped up the money to be able to buy the family land back. Now he stands there, the 6th generation, with his son, representing the 7th, at the Farmer’s Market, to sell me some bones.

I asked him, thinking fondly of the attorney, “So, was the attorney holding it in order to give time for the family to buy it back?” “No,” he responded. “He was just flipping it, to make a profit.” Oops! I should have known. Interesting how that word “flipping” has entered our vocabulary, and how it signals a certain attitude towards “property” that this farmer, obviously, doesn’t embody in his own life.

7th generation. JPG

Next raw honey and bee pollen from Hunters Honey,

bee ladyI asked the woman about their bees. Whether or not they had colony die-offs. Yes, she told me, 60% of their bees died over this past winter. They were able to divide the strongest colonies that were left, but they had to buy more bees. Their 500 hives are scattered on people’s farms and in back yards, and she said that it seemed to her that most of the colonies they lost were on the farms. One wonders if nasty spraying on nearby non-organic farms was the culprint. Or is it GMO corn? But who knows? She sure doesn’t. And she wonders how the bees will fare this coming winter.

Sobering. I told Rebecca about it, and she said she saw her first honey bee in the garden just yesterday. “Only one so far this year.”

I also decided to buy two butterfly bushes, to replace the ones that died. They came back late last spring after a cold winter, but this last winter’s cold snap must have done them in. Will plant them later this afternoon.

Of course, a lot of networking went on at the table. I met one woman who had heard about my talk to the elderwomen a few days ago, and wondered if I would give a presentation to another, larger, group of old folks. Told her sure, but that I would rather do two presentations — the first about the archetype of the Crone, and how we either do or do not embody it as we grow older, and the second about the GANG Garden, Pod, and Ecovillage as an example of what an embodied crone does when she is following her own unique calling. This woman is 56 years old, a recent “empty-nester,” and loved the idea of talking about what follows the “identity” years (30 to 60, “second cycle of Saturn” — which she had actually heard of!), especially since, she said, one old woman in her group is lamenting the “loss of identity.” That’s right, I replied. Loss of ego identity and opening to the world, in sheer joyful expression of the larger self — all your skills, talents, and enormous experience — wherever it feels appropriate.

One of the board members for Smithville, an extremely fast, local internet, stopped by. I had heard about this company just recently, from a story in the local paper saying one Bloomington neighborhood had signed up with them. We took his name and contact info, and plan a September meeting with not only neighbors, but with the absentee landlords who own so many of the rentals in this college neighborhood. This could be one meeting that might draw them out, as it would “add value” to their rentals. We would need 60% of neighborhood households to agree to it before they could sign us up.

And of course, lots of talking among the twenty neighborhoods represented this year at the event, what works and what doesn’t (block parties? email list? shared tools, etc.) in our common task of drawing neighborhoods together — both internally, and as a larger networked community of neighborhoods.

Here we are, arrayed in a large semicircle in the plaza, next to the market.

blooming neighbors

Here’s one view of an entrance to the large market, from the plaza. (The market occupies the entire parking lot of city hall.)

plaza and market

Oops! I almost forgot. A mysterious package from Canada arrived a few days ago. What is it?

mysterious package from Canada

Oh yes, that’s right! We ordered a “Pullerbear” tree puller. Should be able to pull up anything with a diameter less than 2.75 inches. We’ll both use it and lend it out to neighbors.

tree puller


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