Harwood’s Farm Market starting up in Wilton

To the Editor:

Last week, some residents of Wilton, Lyndeborough, Temple, Amherst and Milford took the first steps in the creation of Harwood’s Farm Market, a food cooperative, which will be in Wilton but serve the entire Souhegan community.

Energized by the Transition Town Network, Harwood’s Farm Market takes its inspiration from Evelyn and Chet Harwood, independent grocers at the IGA in Wilton until the early ’90s, when ill health forced them to close their doors.

They were the heart of the Wilton community and provided food to those in need, whether or not they could pay. If you “forgot” your money, Mrs. Harwood would just write it down on her 3-by-5-inch card, and that was that. Of course, almost everyone tried to repay, but I’m sure the Harwoods closed the door on their store for the last time with thousands of dollars “written down.”

More recently, the impulse to form a cooperative farmers market, open six days per week, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., was prompted by the Souhegan Watershed Association, whose masthead quote, from the Native American tradition, is stark and startling: “When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.”

To stem this tide of destruction, the Souhegan Transition Network encourages the resilience of communities. And the Wilton farmers’ cooperative promotes this resilience by allowing farmers to spend more of their time farming and less selling. They will keep 80 percent of the value of their goods and surrender 20 percent in exchange for the presence of the store and its staff.

Until the end of April, we will be signing up “founding members,” who will have a vote in the establishment and operation of the co-op. These will be farmers, dairymen ranchers and consumers. If you would like to join, your check for $50 (a one-time investment) can be made out to Harwood’s Farm Market and sent to St. Mary’s Bank, 603 Nashua St., Milford, NH 03055.

It’s the beginning of a new era of community-building work, which is the best kind of fun.