Ten years ago when Benji’s first daughter was about to be born, he began grappling with how to provide the healthiest possible life for her. Since holistic living begins with food, he started growing tomatoes and amaranth, making dairy and sourdough products and visiting nearby farms to purchase the highest quality food. Benji realized this time-consuming process wasn’t an option for most people, and began thinking about the essential link that was missing: the connection between eaters and growers.
Much of the agriculture grown here in rural Ohio is sold into the global market, while Ohioans are also buying food sourced from all over the world. But what if you knew that your dollar was going to the farmer that lived ten miles away? Today’s agrobusiness model puts the small farmer at risk, when it’s in all of our best interest to support the local economy and produce and consume the freshest food possible. Yellowbird Foodshed, with its six employees and 32 weeks of CSA per year, stepped in to fill this gap.
Yellowbird reminds us where our food comes from and introduces us to our farmers. A CSA share may be $25 a box, but it’s more than that. It’s a lifestyle change that has transformed a contingency of people. Yellowbird hopes to continue to grow their community and nourish as many people as they can, reshaping our values about what it means to eat sustainably and meaningfully.
You look at the word ‘agri-culture’ – two words. All of our culture is formed around that we’ve got to eat to live. Then you’ve got story, cooking in a home, eating around a table…all of these things are a lost art. A lot of the breakdown in society is that we’re not taking the time to do these things together, be human. The spiritual experience happens when you sit down to eat a meal together.
– Benji Ballmer
Photo: A local farmer drops off bushels of carrots at the warehouse in Mount Vernon on Tuesday, which is box packing day. CSA shares are delivered Wednesday through Friday. Courtesy of Alana Zack
Written by Alana Zack (’19) and Catherine Wessel (’19)