We’re Skunk Hollow Growing and Sharing: a bunch of families who live in Northeast Oak Park and want to build a brick-and-mortar food co-op that provides access to fresh, healthy, locally-sourced food to our community.
We love food, especially the local-sustainable-family-farmed-kind, and we want to establish a place in our community that facilitates the amazing work that is already being done by local farmers, urban gardeners, farm-to-table restaurants, and the Farmers Market. We hope to develop a place that provides growers with a year-long connection to their eaters and makes it easier for our families, our neighborhood, and the surrounding community to access those growers’ fresh, healthy food. We hope to make our co-op a community center that facilitates the nourishment of a vibrant community through cooking, preserving, and eating TOGETHER. The co-op will be our very own community table!
I’m Jenny, the unrelenting local food and sustainability devotee. Last week I met someone who owns a 180 acre farm in Wisconsin. How lovely! That is SO what I want to do! I have no experience with farming personally, but I have a deep respect for and appreciation of farmers and what they do for us. As far as I'm concerned, farmers totally rock the house. No, they totally rock the planet.
After meeting the farmer and having a brief fantasy about rising early with my 2 little daughters to milk the cows and hoe the rows, I looked around me and noticed staggeringly adorable kids enjoying chicken noodle soup, quinoa sweet peppers, and blueberry pie. I noticed smart, kind people sharing gardening tips and craft beers. I noticed a contagious passion for growing food, for supporting our local economy, and for Northeast Oak Park. I noticed Skunk Hollow, my community, which, also, totally rocks.
That night we were hosting a kick-off pot-luck to start the 2012 garden season. This little group of friends and neighbors has big plans to open a sustainable, local food co-op here in Northeast Oak Park and this garden season marks the first step of our plan. We plan to plant, tend, harvest, preserve, and eat together from our own gardens and from the phenomenal boon of our CSA baskets and Oak Park Farmers Market Saturday shopping sprees. This will help us build a cooperative community, which, as a second step, we hope to merge with other neighborhood efforts built by the 100 or so community members who are participating in the co-op discussion via our Oak Park Food Co-op Facebook page (and, hopefully, through this blog!). Along with these two steps, we research, we talk with the Oak Park and Austin communities, we learn from organizations and institutions that are already doing great work with local, sustainable food-sourcing and community-building, and, voila, we open our co-op and start connecting people with local, sustainable, awesome food year-round.
So, when I think about that idyllic 180 acres, I realize that, in order to prove that reverence I have for farmers, I take a deep look inside and determine that I do fit into this food economy, not as a local-food-lover daydreaming of being a farmer, but as a proponent of a growing, vibrant, local food community. I love these people, I love Oak Park, and I love the good work that is being done to make local, sustainable eating accessible to all people. My place is in the middle of that, supporting farmers, facilitating CSA’s and sharing, providing foods grown, cooked, and canned by our neighbors, cooperatively.
Come to the PlanIt Green Local Food Forum on Thursday, March 22 from 7:00-8:30pm at the Oak Park Conservatory to hear our concept for the co-op, to share your own ideas, and, perhaps, to join a working group and get involved. If you show up, you'll be there for the declaration of the co-op's new name!