“This content is sponsored by the Monsanto Fund’s America’s Farmers Community Outreach programs, but views and thoughts are my own.”
My current town is legitimately a small town. Everyone pretty much knows everyone. Locals support local businesses and community events. While the town I grew up in is not anywhere near as small as the town I currently live in, it would still be considered smallish – definitely rural though! My hometown is surrounded by agriculture. It boasts peach orchards, walnut and almond orchards, French plum orchards (think prunes -if you eat prunes, they come from my hometown), rice fields and tomato fields, to name just a few. Many of my high school friends, while living in the city, their parents were farmers or orchardists. We had the advantages of enough of city life to not have to shop out of town, but the added advantage of living Farm to Fork. Between the local farm to fork scene and the fact that everyone’s got each other’s back, we have the benefit and helping hands in a small town.
It’s always a joy to fly into the Sacramento Valley and see the beautiful patchwork of green, flowing rice fields, and many, many orchards, as well as the lifeblood of the valley, the Sacramento River. My hometown is just north of Sacramento, and my current small town is just east in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Pretty idyllic.
Recently, my hometown gathered many helping hands in support of a local handyman who was in a terrible accident. Surely, an advantage of living in smaller towns is the love and support for locals in need. Singing Johnny is well known in my community as the window washer extraordinaire. Growing up, I would see him riding around town on his scooter with an extension ladder strapped on the back. He cleaned most of the windows of the local businesses and sang as he washed.
A couple of weeks ago, while riding his scooter on a rural road, near the Sutter Buttes, he saw some buzzards feasting on roadkill. As he carefully approached, the buzzards startled and one flew at him causing him to go off the road and suffer serious injury. My hometown immediately pulled together in support of Singing Johnny. Social media was a buzz with care and concern and the organization of several local fundraising events to help Johnny with medical bills and financial support. Johnny is recovering, and knows the town has his back.
There is a farmhouse fruit/vegetable stand on the way out of town on the drive to Sacramento. The owners are local and very involved in community events. They offer local produce and some of the best pies made from local fruit. Every year, there seems to be some need and the owners are always on board to support that need. They give a pies annually to law enforcement as a show of gratitude. This year, after the disaster in Houston from Hurricane Harvey, the Farmhouse decided to offer 25% of the proceeds from pie sales to aid victims of the hurricane. No, this isn’t comparable to corporate donations, but it’s local and it speaks of community. Locals rushed to the Farmhouse to buy pies and lend a hand, while reaping the tasty benefit of homemade pies made from locally grown fruits and berries.
These are just a few of the advantages of living in rural, small town America. Eating locally grown produce and supporting locals when in need. Growing up, I can’t think of a time when I went to the store or an event when my parents didn’t stop and talk with someone they knew. I think that’s why the appeal of living in a really small town resonated with me. I can allow my kids to walk to the little store in town, and know the shop owner will speak with them and look out for them. I know the gal who works in the post office will keep an eye on them and knows where they live. I can also leave items I’ve sold through local online sales groups out on my front porch and the buyer will leave the money under a mat or behind a pot and take their item. Wow – would that happen in the big city? Small town America is the best!
The Monsanto Fund celebrates these small communities and invests to make them even more vibrant for future generations through America’s Farmers Community Outreach. A new campaign sponsored by the programs called My Town will continue this celebration of the people, places and stories that make small towns great. I’d encourage you to follow the My Town campaign on AmericasFarmers.com and on the America’s Farmers Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube pages. Share your stories on social and be sure to use #MyTownProud so we can see what makes you proud of your town!