What is a F.E.A.S.T.?
“It’s a meeting,” I told Fritz. “I think I ought to go. But it’s all day. If it’s not worth it, I’ll slip out at 11 and come meet you at YoungSon’s basketball game.”
I stayed to the very end.
I would say I am a connoisseur of meetings, except I feel more like a serial victim. It was a series of economic development meetings last summer that convinced me that there was no Future Cycle for me here in this town:
At that meeting this summer I’d cried out, no longer able to contain myself, “But what if some of us have come here or stayed here precisely because it wasn’t like the teeming suburbs over the hill?” And the affable expert economist had shaken his head kindly and pointed out the need to move on into the usual path of economic progress. “We need jobs first.”
Surely he was right.
Other attendees then suggested that what our town needed most was a Costco. Or maybe a really big billboard.
“I’d like a place where I can buy local produce,” I’d said when they had asked me last summer to add to our vision of the future of our town.
“Well, and I’d like a Big & Tall shop — if we’re putting in a wish list,” had put in a local business owner, laughing and patting his tie.
“We could get a Trader Joe’s if we had more foot traffic,” had said another, adjusting her stylish glasses with well-manicured fingers.
I’m sure they were right. What did I know?
Only that I don’t want to live in that kind of town. And I left that meeting last summer, like I leave most meetings, feeling like my mouth was full of dust.
But this today was not most meetings. This was a F.E.A.S.T. — Food Education Agriculture Solutions Together.
A feast of ideas in fact.
All the players of my long obsession — with local food and fighting hunger and making a town fit to live in — all sitting down in the same room — the Food Bank, the organic buying club, local farmers, school lunch ladies, county extension gurus, community education. And talk that didn’t sound like just empty talk and official policy and self-justification. Passion in the place of boosterism. Talk that led directly into reachable action, concrete plans, and some of my own dreams (I think) taking on physical form.
And in the middle of it all, a feast of a lunch cooked by a local catering company — parents of my own children’s schoolmates — from wheat, apples, chicken, hazelnuts, potatoes, beets, and cabbage (that last in a fantastic gingery kimchee) all donated by the farmers sitting there across the table.
This is the town I want to be living in.
I’m shaking the dust off those dreams of Small Town Revival from last summer:
1 . . . Public Green
3 . . . A Morning’s Ride Away
4 . . . The Town Itself
5 . . . The Heart of the Matter
6 . . . Eating Local
7. . . Backyard Bounty
7.5 . . . . . . and Chickens
Maybe there is room for my kind of future here, after all.
Lovely how midwinter’s harvest turns out sweeter than the summer’s.