We know from talking to you that most of our customers value simple living and fresh, humanely raised food. We also know all of you already know the importance of supporting local economies. Studies have shown that roughly .67 of a single dollar spent at a local business stays in the community. Our customers are pretty smart folks, so you probably already know that!
Have you ever stopped to think, however, that before the local business economy there is a smaller unit? Be it one, two, or twelve the family is its own local economy. A family is a producer and a consumer. They impact their own finances and the local economy by both the choices they make to produce and the choices they make when consuming. In recent decades we have moved further and further away from this simple reality by putting large corporations in the middle (either in producing for them in return for a paycheck or consuming what they produce through a separate means). We as a society are disconnected from the process.
I am no economic whiz or historical genius, but it seems like a return to a focus on family-based systems of economy makes good sense.
One of our primary farming (and family) goals is to be generous within our community. That isn't just about charitable giving, although that is certainly part of it. Our goal would be that far more than .67 percent of that 1.00 spent with us stays in the local economy. We do this through supporting other farmers when purchasing things that we don't grow and shopping at locally owned businesses when possible. (In reality, 100% may not be possible but progress is to be applauded no matter how small.) If you are looking for a specific product we don't sell, please ask- we know lots of other farmers who may be able to help out! Over the last several years, Instagram has become an excellent place to connect with local farmers. Below, Tim shows up our fantastic turkey from Kleinshire farms.
Food is one type of productivity, but there are many other types of production that the family economy could engage in. Perhaps someone in your family has a skill such as music or art that can be taught. That skill could be taught for money but also in trade. For the last several years, we have been paying for piano lessons with a side of pork. If you have mastered making a specific household product (such as soap, washcloths, clothing, etc), can you make a few extra? Donate those extra few to the local food shelf and provide generously for the needs of your community. Even if all you do is use the extras as gifts for the next bridal or baby shower you attend, you have produced something in a way that benefits your local family economy. Another way to rethink productivity and family economies is through giving kids a stake and teaching them to value their own work and contribute to the family from a young age. Be it through their own labor producing something tangible (such as helping with gardening or farm chores) or through developing and using their own skills. It doesn't have to be about money (and at first it shouldn't be, but that is a whole different set of posts), but it can be.
Right now, Kylee (age 13) is running her own knitting business. Will she do it forever? Who knows, but she is learning some economic basics that will serve her whatever she does in the future. Other young adults in our family have started a rabbitry and studied butchery. Some ventures have been more successful than others, but all have involved learning the basics of income and expenses as related to hard work.
I'm not going to go as far as saying we don't need money. Reality says we do, but there is a good chance that by rethinking how we view the family economy we can reduce our dependence on it.
When we were going through our marital prep course, the leader commented that no matter how much money we made we would always know what we could do with another $10,000. She said the best thing she could tell us to do was forget whatever that was and live where we were. That advice has proven wise time and time again over the last (almost) 20 years. Now, however, we have taken it in a new direction- challenging ourselves with what would we do if we had $10,000 less.* Be it $10, 000, $1,000, or $100- what would you do?
*Before I get slammed in the comments, I want to acknowledge that poverty is real and that many of our neighbors are struggling in huge ways and honestly do not have the dollars and cents for a basic standard of living. If this is you, please know of our prayers and if you are local and there is any specific way we can help please get in touch with us. I know the people of this community to be very generous people so please all proceed with charity knowing that we are all in different places on the same journey.