Meat, Money and Community

Below is a marketing email from a local Worthington, Massachusetts, farm that was always awesome, and the pandemic has only made them awesomer. Read this and digest the myriad issues relevant to this farm and our community. Land is expensive. Feed is expensive. Life is expensive. Yet young farmers who are getting their hands on the reins of a small farm – literally in this case as they farm by horses! – are wrestling with ways to grow healthy food, in healthy ways for the land, and serve not only those who can afford it, but all of us who need to be eating healthy and supporting healthy agriculture, regardless of our income bracket. – Joshua Wachtel, editor

Beloved Shoppers!

We will keep getting chicken weekly from Underline Farm in Ashfield. Their chickens graze and forage on lush pastures and get the rest of their nutrients from organic grain. These are happy birds. We also now have hot dogs in stock from Lilac Hedge Farm. Not sure how much we’ll all be barbecuing in this rain, but the 4th of July is coming up anyway, rain or shine. And even typing the words “hot dog” makes me really want one.

An indisputable fact: meat which has been lovingly raised, organically fed, and humanely slaughtered is so much more expensive than meat that hasn’t.

All our meat sells fast and well, so obviously many of you share our values around sustainable, nutritious, and humane meat-eating. But that doesn’t mean some or all of you are not balking, as we do, at some of the big numbers. It’s important to us not to be an exclusive operation. We often talk amongst ourselves about how we don’t want to be a “boutique” farmstore, where everything is cute, fresh, and too much money for normal people. We don’t want to perpetuate the idea that healthy, nutrient-dense, sustainably grown food is a luxury item. AND ALSO, it’s expensive to grow healthy, nutrient-dense, sustainably-grown food. So where does that leave us all?

On a personal note, I, Erica, have the least amount of money of the four of us currently running the store. It’s a funny thing to write here, mostly because talking about money is uncomfortable for some reason and most of our cultural training tells us not to. But the fact of my no-money, combined with my taste in fresh, local food (including ethically-raised and delicious meat), makes me a kind of litmus test for the store. When we’re considering carrying something exciting and not cheap, we’ll sometimes ask “yeah, but would Erica buy this?” or more crucially: “would Erica be able to shop here at all?” And the answer is always yes, but I’d have to think about it first. And I would definitely be using the COMMUNITY20 discount.

A funny thing has happened with our COMMUNITY20 discount program. Namely, more people are donating to it (using the Pay It Forward function) than are availing themselves of it. The site says the discount program is for fixed-income seniors and anyone EBT-eligible. We’d like to extend that to anyone who feels they need 20% off in order to feel easy about shopping at the store. You know whether you need it, you know whether that 20% might make the difference between adding something to your cart or not (especially when that item is a cut of delicious meat you would feel good about eating but that seems too spendy to justify). So, if you are doing math while placing your order, if you’re torn between the values of local, ethical food and the value of frugality, then this discount is for you. Type in COMMUNITY20 at checkout. Go on.

We talked for a long time about what the 20% off discount program should be called. We landed on COMMUNITY20 because our whole operation–all of the various incarnations of the farm, share, and store in the last 10 years, and certainly the store in this current moment–is all about community. Eating local is about community, knowing our farmers and grocers and neighbors is about community, adjusting our behavior in a time of crisis to protect the most vulnerable among us is about community. We want to be your community farmstore because community gives us a reason to exist.

So: use the COMMUNITY20 discount if you know it would enable you to shop the way you’d like. And from the bottom of our grubby little Sawyer Farm hearts, thanks to all of you who have donated to the Pay It Forward fund. Starting in July, we will donate any surplus in that account to a local food justice organization at the end of this month. More info on that to come.

If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve now read the discount code 5 times, so I bet you’ll remember it. But it’s also on the site, in the green box at the top of the shop page.

You guys are the best.

Stay well, stay safe, stay connected, stay fed,


Erica Terpening-Romeo lives at Sawyer Farm. She is a co-owner of the farm store, which she runs, and she helps farm. When the world isn’t upside down, she is also a theater director and educator.

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