This Isn’t an Editor’s Note
On Jan. 13, 2017, I launched a new version of my husband’s and my Dugger Family Farm website. Prior to that, in 2016, I’d only cobbled together a small Wordpress site for our farm. When it came time to build a new site, a better one with a built-in store, my friend Josh Marshall did most of the heavy lifting. I learned a few tricks by watching and asking questions. I learned enough to think that maybe I could build one on my own someday.
But, let’s back up a minute.
Last year, in the early part of 2016, I established an LLC to create a Hoosier Locavore brand. I talked to people about a new publication I wanted to create. I invited friends to meetings. I had a Locavore logo created. I daydreamed. I wrote out pages and pages of a proposal that I presented to my boss about a new magazine. I wanted this publication to be beautiful. I wanted this publication to support and encourage and inspire our local food growers. I wanted this publication to also educate and inform consumers about why it is so important to buy local.
I was convinced of the need for this publication. I needed everyone else to be convinced, too.
My boss told me, “No.”
I met with the owners of the media company for which I worked—his bosses. They’d read my proposal.
They told me “No,” too.
I had multiple meetings with a publisher outside of that company.
He considered the idea. Then, he told me “No.”
During that time, I had purchased the domains for hoosierlocavore.com, locavoremagazine.com and locavoremagazine.net. At that time, I had no idea how to build a website. I hadn’t yet created our farm’s Wordpress site. Building websites was a far-off land to which I assumed I would never journey.
Which takes us back to that Jan. 13 date. I launched Dugger Family Farm’s new website that day. That evening I began building the Hoosier Locavore site. This time, alone.
Now exactly two weeks later, on Jan. 27, 2017, the website is nearly ready to go. Save for this editor’s note, I’ve done my work for the launch. As soon as a few submissions come in, this bird will be ready to fly.
And this thing that I’m writing—it isn’t exactly an editor’s note. It’s a manifesto.
Indiana has a 90 percent problem. Ninety percent of the food we eat is imported into this, the tenth top-producing agricultural state. We’re growing a hell of a lot of something here. It just isn’t food we can eat. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate our state’s long agricultural heritage. That’s not to say I don’t respect Indiana’s commodity farmers. I’m not writing about them here.
What I want to talk about is where we get our food, what exactly we’re eating, how we’re treating the environment in order to get that food, how we’re caring for animals, even those that we eat, and whether what we’re putting into our bodies, into our soil, and into our air is sustainable for our long-term well-being.
This site is about diversified (sometimes small; other times, big), sustainable farming. It’s about bringing our state’s specialty crop and diversified growers (of fruits, vegetables, and the like) into the same space as our state’s consumers. It's about trying to be a true and valuable conduit of information, a connection between the two. I believe consumers and Indiana’s food growers and farmers can hang out in the same place. They can talk. They can be friends. They should be friends. Our state’s farmers markets are perfect places for these relationships to grow. This website can be one, too.
This site isn’t exhaustive. It’s a framework, a strong and sturdy skeleton that I hope hints to good things to come. By definition, placemaking, if you haven’t heard the term, is a public space management approach that capitalizes on a community’s assets, inspiration and potential. Placemaking focuses on the happiness and well-being of a community’s people. Placemaking, by my definition, is a beautiful and necessary thing—not only in our physical world, but also in our virtual one. I ask that you make this website a community. Make it yours. There’s a discussion forum for conversations to take place here. There’s an event calendar. There are links to podcasts. There are blog posts and editorial pieces and clickable listings. Use this information. Share the website with your friends. Help me add to it. Send me emails, and let me know what’s happening in your world.
What I failed to mention in the beginning of this piece was that early 2016 wasn’t the first time I’d been told “No” to creating the publication I envisioned. In fact, I’d been having related conversations with my boss for the three years prior. There were times those discussions became heated. He and I generally got along well, and so I always felt free to tell him exactly what I thought.
I don’t know whether those discussions led to my eventual departure. When I was laid off in late 2016, the first words from his mouth were “I think I’m going to cry.”
I’m the only one who did any crying that day, but that’s OK. If I hadn’t been sent on my way, I never would have thrown myself into building this site. I never would have followed a dream, regardless of whether the dream will ever come to anything more accomplished than, quite simply: “Hey, look. I built my own website.”
Beyond this build-out, I’ve also begun working for Purdue Extension and the Indiana Farmers Union. These positions both teach me and allow me to contribute to change within our state’s food system. My positions with both also help to inform this website.
I have to admit: I love print. A website wasn’t what I’d had in mind all these years. Since leaving my previous post, I’ve had meetings with a former employer who has interest in working on a new publication with me. Instead of continuing that conversation, though, instead of risking being told “No,” I decided to start building and collecting and creating. I quit talking, and I started doing.
Maybe someday I’ll return to that conversation. Maybe someday Hoosier Locavore, or a spin-off of the brand, will make its way into print. For now though, I’ve created something beautiful, something that, in my mind, respects, admires, and celebrates the beauty of our bounty. It’s a beauty that I see every day in this great state.