A big thank you to all who came out to our East side farmers’ market this past Saturday. I have been reflecting on the shared history of the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market and Bloomingfoods. The Farmers’ Market opened in July 1975, just a year before Bloomingfoods opened its first store down the alley off Kirkwood, and featured many of the same movers and shakers who were making things happen in the local food scene. The Farmers’ Market and Bloomingfoods are both centered around the buying and selling of food and they both also stand for much more. Some of the larger goals are captured in Bloomingfoods’ ends statement – providing a market for local products, building a sustainable local food economy, and educating about the interconnectedness of food, health, and the environment. There are also less tangible benefits provided by both institutions that I struggle to put into words. Both provide a place for people to gather, to share ideas, to strengthen relationships, and to celebrate life in community.
More and more I see the value in simply providing a place for human interactions. The Internet now allows us to order almost anything we need and have it delivered to our doorstep without ever talking to another human being. It is powerful technology and yet ultimately we all require human touch, human smiles, and the chance to interact face to-face with our community members.
I believe that has been the hardest part about the suspension of the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market for many of us. I am hopeful that our community will find a long-term solution to allow the return of a market that provides a place to buy and sell local food but also a place where people come together to talk, to laugh, to touch, to celebrate and yes, even to debate, to protest, and to disagree. It needs to be a place where we can all feel safe and welcome and respected. It is a hard thing to do but in this day and age we need to make an extra effort. I am proud of the role that Bloomingfoods has been able to play in meeting that need through the presence of our existing stores and through supporting a temporary alternative farmers’ market venue. I am grateful for everyone who chipped in to make the alternative market happen and for all the community members who were enthusiastic and patient with the inevitable hiccups. It takes a huge amount of work to organize a market and Bloomington has enjoyed one of the best farmers’ markets in the country for many years. I look forward to Bloomingfoods and the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market providing gathering places for our community to grow and thrive for another 40 years.