A Time for Kindness
“Building Community Through Food”
As we all try to navigate through this current time it is easy to get overwhelmed. Chelsie and I are feeling it on our end for sure. The stress of people losing their jobs and getting sick, the home schooling and endless Zoom meetings, trying to work from home with children (and spouses) constantly stealing your attention, financial, emotional and physical hardships…it can all be too much to deal with. However, I feel it is more important now than at any other time, to practice kindness for one another and support for our community. Too often we’re seeing our differences make us into enemies when in truth, we should be embracing these oppositional ways of thinking and learning from one another. People are upset with a whole collection of uncontrollable issues and seem to be taking their frustrations out on their neighbors. We can’t do this. Now more than ever we need to come together. It does not matter who you vote for or if you are for or against masks. It doesn’t matter if you are pushing for remote learning for your children or believe strongly that they need to be back in a classroom. We are all frustrated that we can’t go out to see a movie, eat at a restaurant or visit with loved ones. This doesn’t mean we need to turn on one another.
I recently experienced two moments of genuine kindness and support that made me hopeful that good can outweigh negativity during this mess. Both encounters happened at our weekly farmstand. First, a woman I didn’t recognize came through the stand looking for a particular food item which we happened to be sold out of at the time she arrived. I apologized to the woman and told her we would have more in the coming weeks. Though she was disappointed, she still whipped out her wallet and gave me $5. I questioned why she was doing this and she replied that 2 years prior, she had come to shop at our stand and was short $5. She said we told her, “Don’t worry about it today.” She wanted to make sure she paid that kindness back and supported a business that she really appreciates even though it was 2 years later. I was amazed. The money was not so important, but the fact that after all of that time and despite the fact that I’d clearly forgotten about it, she still remembered us and showed the kindness to support the farm.
The other moment was quite similar. A neighbor and CSA1 shareholder we’ve known for years came through the stand last week. This woman is an incredible supporter of our farm and has given so much to us over the years. She came to do some shopping last Saturday, picked out a few items and came to the checkout. Her math was a little different than mine and although when she handed me the payment, I saw that she was in fact $2 short, she smiled so sweetly as always and said “keep the change.” Just the thought of her trying to help us, made me not correct her and I said “thank you” and we both went about our days. The market continued with its usual hustle and bustle and about an hour later she returned. She commented that she thought about the transaction after she returned home and realized that instead of giving us a tip, she had actually not paid full price and she wanted to come back and correct the mistake. Again here, the $2 difference means very little. However, the genuine kindness and thought that this woman showed with her actions made an incredible impact on my day.
Both of these moments were brief and seemingly insignificant amidst all that is happening in our lives, but they meant the world to me. People caring about other people and supporting our neighbors is how we are all going to find our way through this time. We really do try to hold true to our slogan of “Building Community Through Food” and consider ourselves so fortunate to be a part of a community that shows such care and love for its members. The stress of the times is here and it shows no signs of departing any time soon, but instead of yelling at the girl at Chipotle or belittling the young man ringing up your groceries, we need to pick each other up. Show love. Show Kindness. Build a community that makes it out of this pandemic stronger than we ever were.
Paul Fleischer is the co-owner and farmer of Fleischer Family Farms. He is also a high school agricultural education teacher. He cultivates the land on his Southern Gables property alongside his wife and co-owner, Chelsie.