Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Local Heroes

One of my favorite movies of all time is Local Hero. It was filmed in Scotland at the incredibly picturesque coast. It is a sweet and poignant, feel good movie about a young American man named Mac who works for a very large oil company headed by of all people Burt Lancaster. Mac (who is played by Peter Riegert) is sent to the remote village to buy up the village and turn it into an oil field. There's a mermaid, a hermit, and lots of other funny Scottish characters. In the end, Mac becomes a "local hero" and his life is changed because of his experiences with the villagers and the coastline. If you haven't seen it, I highly suggest it.

Here in western Massachusetts, an organization called CISA (Community Involved in Supporting Agriculture) began a few years ago. CISA's goals are to sustain agriculture in Western Massachusetts so that the wonderful character and landscape of our area can remain. We live in the poorest county in western Massachusetts. Jobs are limited and many people commute very long ways to live here. Or like Mark and I are self-employed trying to make it on our own. Farming is still a way of life here but farms are being threatened by development pressures daily. Mark's older brother David and his wife Debbie still own Sunbrite Farm in Bernardston and milk about 80 cows on the land that has been in the Duprey family for five generations (that's them on the left). They are members of a local milk cooperative called "Our Family Farms of Western Massachusetts" and market their fresh milk to the region. Dairy farming anywhere is a struggle but in Massachusetts it is especially hard. I don't know anyone who works as hard as they do for so little money. Mark, my farmer, helps out when he can but he too is busy trying to juggle his own real business while tending our flock of sheep, and growing and harvesting hay, pumpkins, and sunflowers. (To say we're busy is an understatement.)

We support local farmers at the same time as being one ourselves. We buy our vegetables at the local farmer's market if we don't grow them ourselves. We try to shop locally as much as possible keeping our money within the community frequenting the small mom and pop businesses in Greenfield rather than driving to the mall.

So what does this all have to do with yarn, books, and stitchery, you ask? This is where you come in. I want to thank all the people who have been buying my kits and books directly from me. I know you don't have to - you can order from Amazon and get a deep discount - but you haven't. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Every time I get an order via my website, I am overjoyed. I am not becoming a rich woman by any stretch of the imagination but I am a happy woman. By purchasing from me, you will:
a. Keep me stitching and designing yarn, knitwear and stitchery kits for you and others like you.
b. Keep me writing books to inspire knitters and stitchers throughout the world.
c. Help me feed my family.
d. Help us keep our farm and forest land safe from developers and unbuilt upon so that people in the future can enjoy its raw beauty.
e. Keep our neighbors enjoying the unbelievably picturesque views of sheep, hills, and everyone's favorite llama Jeremy.

By all means, if your local store sells my books and kits, buy from them. But if not, know that my family and I appreciate every purchase. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


patty bolgiano said...

It was a big change for me to move from the city (Baltimore) into the county. I live in an area that has lots of farms, I see cornfields, and big black cows (Angus?) everyday on my way to work. Because I am so far away from everything-- I too think about having a cold frame so I can have veggies just a walk away. This summer (our first in the new house) my husband John has planted tomatoes, green peppers, and watermelons. I would like to plant a few pumpkins but don't have the space because of the family addition of the dog--who enjoys digging what you've just planted.

After living in the city, attending farmers markets for fresh vegetables, and fruits I have a deep appreciation for the independent farmer. I fear that these are a vanishing breed and will do anything to keep them in business. (I often dream of winning the lottery just to help folks out!) Their relationship with the land, the devastion that a dry summer can bring, and the low income makes it very difficult to them. I strong suggest that they form coops with city dwellers to get their items to market, get better pricing, get the world out to the rest of the world how critical their place is in this country and yes the state that they live in. I'm sorry this is just an issue I feel strongly about.

Patty in Spark
(who is just starting her blog

bernie said...

That movie is one of my favorite too! I just saw it about a year ago, but it quickly made my top 10 list. The scenery is great and the characters are quirky. Life is defintely more stressful in the city. It was nice to see the 'guard llama' again!

Kathy said...

I just found your blog today. Great post -- and you are so right -- if we all want to preserve the beautiful pastoral parts of our country, we all need to do our part. I try, as best as I can, to support local farm and local farmers.

simmyb said...

Local Hero is one of my favourite films too. Have you seen Gregory's Girl by the same director - another classic.

Julia in Toronto said...

Kristin-- so glad to hear you feel this way about Local Hero too-- I often feel it's the story of my life. I've watched it about once every four months for easily 15 years and have the soundtrack on CD (how about the SOUNDTRACK?!). Always blub at the end. Nice to have this in common.