Community Instigator

A community instigator is kind of like a community organizer….

I am somewhat recognized in my community as the go-to person for local food resources.  That can mean all kinds of crazy phone calls–from student researchers, from environmental and political groups, and from people just looking to get their hands on fourteen dozen ears of corn, as was the case last night.

OK–so they only wanted ten dozen ears–the extra four was for me.  I hadn’t gotten corn in any quantity this season, so when I got a call last night from Meg, my former boss at the Institute of American Indian Studies down at USD to wrassle up a load of corn for their new director’s welcome dinner tonight, I hopped to.

Being a community organizer (or instigator, as I prefer to call myself) generally means spending a lot of time on the phone.  Luckily for me last night, after having spent an inordinate amount of time on the computer all day, the phone was a great relief.

First I called Vito at Red Rooster Farms.  No dice.  But he did mention the Daleys from Jefferson, who had been bringing corn and other goodies to the Vermillion Area Farmers Market up until a few weeks ago.  He thought they’d said they had a number of varieties planted in succession–enough to last the whole rest of the season.

I shuffled through my “junk drawer” in vain, thinking I might have their number.  No dice again.  So, I called up our market manager, Caitlin, who was out watering her flowers.  She found a couple numbers for me and a couple names, and then the go-round started.

I called the Daleys to see if they had the corn.  They did, and Kathy thought they might come back to the market in Vermillion this Thursday.

“Hmm,” I hesitated.  “Um, they really need the corn tomorrow.  Is there any way for them to get it tomorrow–either through delivery or them coming to get it?”

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one acting as middle(wo)man, so we had a laugh about that, and then Kathy said she’d have to call her husband (who was at the Elk Point Farmers Market), then call me back.  When we hung up, I called Meg back.  “It looks like we can get you the corn!  How much do you want?  Can I give them your contact info?  Would you be willing to pick up, or would you prefer delivery?”–and on the details went.

We hung up, and a few minutes later, Kathy called back, saying they could, in fact, deliver the corn for a little extra price.  We talked a little about the details, and then I gave her Meg’s contact info, so they could set up the delivery and price.

Done!  Time to rest on the laurels, right?  Nope.  I waited another half hour or so, then called Meg to make sure the Daleys had called her, everything had been worked out satisfactorily, and to find out when I should come get my part of the delivery.  Except she didn’t answer.  So I left a message.

She called back in another half hour after that, and everything was set.  She even had a crew of students to help out (they hadn’t realized they were going to spend the afternoon shucking).  But my shucking party will be a solo affair.

I’ve now got four dozen ears of corn sitting in a cooler by my back step waiting to be shucked, blanched, cut from the cobs, and frozen.  I’ve also got a good feeling from having helped both an old friend and a local farm family.



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