The Food Connection
I don't know how this work could get any more satisfying. All summer I have been acting as a "produce purchasing coordinator" for a group of residents in the East End neighborhood of Lexington. Neighbors chip in whatever they are comfortable paying to a collective budget, and I contact local small-scale farmers to order fresh, local, and usually organic produce at a bulk discount. In this way we support local farmers, cut out the middleman and bring fresh affordable produce to a historically underserved community. Check out Fresh Stop Markets for more about this economic model.
Photo by Mya Price
The Art Connection
Even though I have been a member of the Lexington Guild of Printmakers for over a year I can rarely make the 45 minute drive to meetings. In July, I happened to be present for the announcement of recent grant funding to introduce printmaking to new audiences. Someone suggested "I heard there's a new farmers' market in the East End, do you think we could do a demo there?" I tried to sink lower in my chair but knew this had my name written all over it. It was decided that each Guild member would come up with a unique design to be printed on canvas bags onsite for the participants in the Fresh Stop Market.
Inspiration for the Designs
We have been known to get pretty creative in sourcing food for the market shareholders. In June, we received a tip-off from a community member about a plum tree, simply overflowing with fruit, on a vacant lot. We assembled a winning team of harvesters including a very cooperative infant and set out to glean from the tree. We ended up with over 40 pints of the sweetest plums money can't buy; headed for our neighbor's tables.
This raised curiosity about how many other forgotten food sources may be found in the East End. A resident gathered stories and created a list: a pear tree, an abandoned blackberry patch, an old cherry orchard and so on. The lineup was impressive, and happened to match the number of printmaker's scratching their heads over designs unique to the East End.
Dibs on the Plum Tree!
This was one of the fastest turn-arounds I've managed. It took one weekend to design and carve the 11"x12" block.
Demo Day and Bag Giveaway!
Our community veggie shareholders were thrilled with the event and the canvas bag souvenirs. I spoke to several members who were happy to see outside recognition of the East End neighborhood as a place "where good things are happening." I hold so much gratitude and respect for the many community members who poured hours into organizing these markets and encouraging their neighbors to take advantage of local food resources.
Last weekend the Printmaker's Guild hung a show of all the pieces designed for the printed bag as well as produce-themed reflection pieces from each of the artists. Hats off to this amazing group of artists, farmers, neighbors, and the magic that happens when they work together.
Find out more about these artists on the Guild's Facebook page.