By Bekka Lee
Hi all!!! I am hoping to help others network and find useful ways to survive when needed. First a background on our efforts. We have a farm in rural Michigan and have tried finding others via the internet mostly. When we found that people were not willing to move or couldn’t, we changed strategies. Last year we started an authentic Farmers Market where people could sell their produce or crafts at our farm. It was a little slow to start as far as income which we expected. We never had the intention of becoming rich for this, as our intention was to begin networking with others in our area. That part of it was a huge success!!! We went from being alone basically, to now striving to keep up. We have meetings with the others that have become friends and plan things like gardens, supplies, etc. Some of these people were already in our circle as most people don’t have large tracts of acreage to grow things and had small gardens but needed more space. So we organized a community garden on our farm and plan, purchase, and tend all of it as a group. We even share some of the more expensive things such as farm equipment, wheat grinding, etc. I have found great comfort in that what we were searching for around the world we found under our noses. I don’t think most realize how many people that are local may not be fully awake to the reality of this corrupt and greedy world. But they want and crave self sustainability!!! And when they reap the rewards it becomes almost addicting to provide for oneself!!! I have taken GREAT satisfaction in watching them be ecstatic when they pick their first tomato and eat it right away, or one of their children come running into the garden covered in cherry juice or blackberry juice from raiding the fruit garden or orchards!!! And so do they!!! We even had a little boy that got into our chicken coop and came out with a handful of chicken poo and was proudly proclaiming his hard work for cleaning the chicken coop…..wish I would of had a camera!!! It would of made you tube celebrity status immediately!!!
So how I got started. I put an ad in the local paper asking for people who were interested in an old fashioned farmers market. A true market where not just veggies and fruit were sold but also crafts, plants, and even services, were offered. Our area has taken a downhill turn as far as a real farmers market, they require liability insurance, the cost is horrendous, and they pick and chose as to whom can participate…..so with that in mind we offered to find interests in the community as far as what people wanted to learn, or teach and coordinated it. We had a person that played the mandolin for us and it became a hit! Now I know everyone can’t start a market but they can get to know the market master at their local market and offer to help coordinate classes, find musicians, vendors, etc!! People would be amazed at what they can learn about networking by just reaching out for assistance!! Now I wouldn’t put an ad in the paper that read GET READY FOR CIVIL UNREST OR THE WORLD IS ENDING!!!! But one that just read, Looking for individuals who want to learn self sustainability, gardening, certain crafts, etc….. You will be surprised at the response I am sure!!! Once you get a list of a few people have coffee at a local restaurant to get to know eachother. We had our first meeting in our backyard. There were only eight of us meeting but word got around and now there are eight active families, and several inquiries to myself and the other members. We had thought of doing a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm but our goal isn’t to make money from this it is to teach and learn from others. As well as network and share in the work!! With that said you will find people that have good intentions but not enough fortitude for the work. As most younger people now want everything just for the asking it is difficult for them to know that it takes hard work to gain anything. The best way to deal with this is find out what each person in your group is good at. Someone that isn’t a “hard worker” may be a computer whiz that can find resources easier than you, or learn to do something useful that they didn’t know they liked. Like sewing or woodworking. Everyone has something to contribute!!! If there is that one person that refuses to do anything they don’t belong in the group. Period!! At our meetings, the very first thing we announce is a work detail. Once that is done and everyone knows what’s expected of them it usually works out. But if not then they have to be told, contribute or you won’t be receiving your share. It isn’t easy!!!! But when you have to keep in the back of your mind that you can not “carry” others all the time, it is easy to make the call.
Even an ad in the local paper looking for others that share the same interests as yourself is helpful!!! As long as the interest is something that will be valuable after tshtf…. I hope this helps others find a way for networking and learning. The one thing in my many travels across this nation is there are people in EVERY burg that have a craft or talent that can teach you!!! And most are happy to do so!! Just gotta get out and look!!!