Editor’s Column: Lessons learned

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As we begin taking steps to restore a semblance of normalcy in this new world with COVID-19, some interesting ideas have emerged.

Self-sufficiency and local sustainability are more important than we may have thought.

We are a nation that has come to rely on international trade, global corporations, and a handful of large operators who supply most of our goods, from meat to TP. That’s a weak link in the supply chain, in my mind.

Events like this, where shortages loom, should serve as a reminder that we have the capacity to become much more self-sufficient and sustainable than folks who dwell in the urban jungle by virtue of where we live, and we should take advantage of that opportunity.

The “farm to table” movement has mostly been reserved for those who could afford it. Perhaps it’s time to bring that movement home and turn it into a plan for sustainable economic development. Can we buy local beef and lamb and pork and have it processed locally? Can we grow the majority of our own vegetables and fruits? Could we have locally produced milk and dairy products? What about flour? The archives of the Meeker Herald indicate that we once had all those things, from a dairy to a flour mill. Everything we could produce locally, we did, and our population hasn’t changed all that much since then.

We can’t allow the “heritage arts” to die.

I’ve shared some of my struggles with relearning how to use my sewing machine while making masks for my family here. This week my youngest brought me a pair of pants with a hole ripped across the backside and asked me to patch them. Upon inspection, I thought he should just buy a new pair, but he wanted these patched up. It’s been a long time since I patched a pair of britches, and it made me wonder about people who’ve never been told that’s an option and haven’t been told how to go about it. 

While I was chatting with Pattie Terp about her mask-making endeavors, she said she had fresh bread baking in the oven. I haven’t baked bread yet during the stay-at-home orders, but a lot of you have, judging from the scarcity of flour and yeast at the stores. There was a time when I made almost everything from scratch because money was tight and that was a way to save. Who is teaching the next generation how to cook from scratch, make their own bread, and turn food scraps into compost?

Whether that means supporting 4-H programs for kids or creating classes for adults, we need to pass along those skills before they disappear entirely.

“Grow food, not lawns.”

It has been good to see the videos from Rangely Community Gardens and ERBM’s community garden program encouraging and instructing people on basic gardening techniques. You can grow a lot of food in a small space, and most of us have a lot more space than we think we do. What if we could turn these vast expanses of grass into vegetable gardens?

Meteorologists are speculating that this could be the hottest summer on record around the world. That’s bad for a number of reasons, but good for beginning gardeners in an area with a short growing season. This might be the year to put in a patch of beans, or a row of spinach, or the ever-popular zucchini, and see how it goes.

Since we’re probably not going to be traveling this summer, and most of the large events on our calendars have — or should be — canceled, let’s turn that “extra” time into productive, purposeful time and do something positive.

By Niki Turner | editor@ht1885.com