Sustainability seems to be the “Word of the Time,” but what does it mean? Years ago a leader in the Organic Movement told me that “Sustainable farming” was a nebulous concept – easy to say, hard to define. Years later I was told by a good friend of mine of a more “conservative lean” politically that sustainable agriculture was “code” for government control. I argued with both of them, because I knew what it meant to me, but how would I describe it?

This past spring I visited the John R. Briggs Elementary School and was told by a young girl that sustainability meant “What it takes to live here.”  That’s a perfect definition, and the one I like best. Living here, or anywhere, requires food, shelter, healthy air, but also the economic and community systems to make it affordable, worthwhile and possible.  It is rare that a person can live without companionship, some sort of external expenditures, some way to make money in order to spend it, and prosper as a person. But it is also rare that a town or community can be totally self-supporting.  Towns were not large enough to support a “town granary,” and a “town slaughterhouse.” There were regional needs that brought people from all over an area. It’s necessary for just regional environmental systems, as farmers need to bring “fresh genetics” to keep their herds healthy.  So, North Country Sustainability Center is a regional approach to sustainability.

For some people, this area will be too far to travel on a regular basis, but won’t it be great to know that there is a place to go to buy good meat or bread or cheese?  Others will want to sell beyond their own town limits, but don’t want to use their cars and time to travel from town to town. Hey, what about selling from NCSC at a farmer’s market or in a retail outlet? Still others want to offer a service that is unique to their approach, but they need more than one town or city to keep it possible?  NCSC will be there for you to use our facilities, our classrooms, workshops, or arena, and you’ll have a fraction of the cost in maintenance over keeping a “shingle” up in a regular rental unit.

So what kind of business will be at North Country Sustainability Center, Inc?  There will be people who want to help others learn to cook, sew, or build their own goods, and those who want to sell what they make themselves.  For those who love dogs, there will be dog trainers and behavior consultants, who want to use our indoor arena or large training spaces, which are getting harder to find each year. Love to have 4H show? The arena’s there.  But what about learning proper nutrition, or yoga, or prenatal and birth preparation? NCSC can offer that too, if people follow through on their expressed goals.

There will be farmer’s markets and retail store, but there will also be community gardens and classes in backyard agriculture. Want to have a special dinner, but
not time to fix it, personal chefs will be using out kitchens, or teaching classes, and along with them will be events that celebrate Slow Food, local artisan foodmakers,
and classes that help sort through media marketing so people can decide what food is their best choice

What about a place where local artists can exhibit or perform? a place where families or couples could go out to an event and not have to drive for an hour?
This is also a goal for NCSC.

All this and more are possible, if we can secure the buildings we want. If we can’t, we’ll adjust our time schedule and our plans to fit the site we can find, but
wouldn’t it be wonderful to have an historical mill brought back to production? To use our natural resources for power supply, such as solar and micro-hydropower?
This is possible with our preferred site, but we need help to buy it.  Please visit our website, at www.northcountrysustain.org and donate or join us.

So, to those people who told me that sustainability was a bad choice of words, I say it’s just a broader concept than most people use. Sustainability includes organic and local farming, but depending upon “organic” definitions it might not include certified organic practices.  For those who are concerned with government control, using our resources makes it easier for the government to be efficient – inspecting one dairy, or kitchen, instead of one kitchen/dairy for every cheesemaker or baker.  Everyone wins, if we pull together to get NCSC off the ground.

To all who’ve been reading this blog, thank you for your time and kind words. Spread the word about GrowingFuture, so we can let more people know about the work we’re doing here. It helps everyone to let the world know about us. Thanks.

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