The emphasis is on “sustainable”

The “SAGE” bit of the SAGE Farmers Market stands for “Sustainable Agriculture and Gardening Eurobodalla”.

The emphasis is on “sustainable”. That’s why we started a farmers market.

Recently, I (the market’s site coordinator) became car-less. Or car-free, as I like to phrase it. It’s been 2 and half months now and the changes to my and my family’s life have been far-reaching. I’m loving it and while sometimes I feel for my two kids who have to walk / scooter / catch buses more than they ever have had to before, I know without any doubt, this episode in our lives is teaching valuable lessons. I highly recommend it to anyone (who lives in town).

It certainly has its challenges. There is the matter of having to ask for favours here and there. I don’t like asking favours. But I’ve been overwhelmed by how many people have offered and/or provided assistance — including neighbours who barely know me — when they’ve learned I have no car. The looks on many people’s faces has often been amusing. Some have been nothing short of shocked, as if my life was over. Funny.

It’s a subject I could talk about for hours, but overall, it’s made me plan better and think more. It’s changed the way I shop. It’s made me more flexible. If, for example, the weather isn’t so good that day, plans have to change. It’s made me realise our public transport system is firstly, lacking and secondly, grossly underutilised. There’s a conversation right there. It’s made me realise our town is not very bike-friendly. More bike racks, please!!

And — man!! — am I getting fit or what??

But strangely, the biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome was meeting the responsibilities I have as the site coordinator for the farmers market. Part of my duties is to haul around a bunch of stuff to set up the SAGE stall each week. That’s a 3m x 3m marquee, a folding trestle table, a notice board and bunch of miscellaneous other bits and pieces. Not only that, the market is in full swing when school ends and my kids arrive back in town on the bus. They have to be collected and chauffered to the market until it’s time to head home. Thanks to a friend with an underutilised ute that I could often borrow (and helpful SAGE members to cart stuff around when I couldn’t), I was doing what needed to be done every Tuesday afternoon.

But it was bothering me. While I was relishing living without a car and walking the talk of living greener, reducing my carbon footprint, yadda yadda yadda, it was the SAGE Farmers Market that presented the biggest “you can’t live without a car” challenge. It seemed impossible to undertake this role without a vehicle. The whole “sustainable” thing wasn’t computing.

And yet…

Look what can happen when you start talking to a few people. Google searches for “bike trailer” rise exponentially. An unwanted kiddie bike trailer appears. The unstoppable SAGE president disappears into his shed with it and — voilà!! I present to you, the SAGE Farmers Market bike trailer MkI.

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Today was the first full test of how to manage the whole kit and kaboodle, plus kids, plus my own shopping. It was a big afternoon, with a lot to manage. But it will get easier. It’s all about having a system. One thing I have realised when you don’t have a car: you get a lot more organised and you consider everything. Is that thing really necessary? How heavy is it? How much space does it need? How will I do x, and then later I have to do y… how am I going to do that? How am I going to carry that? You can’t just chuck everything in a car and head off. Dare I say it? It makes you mindful.

So today revealed a few wrinkles to iron out, but personally, it was a thoroughly satisfying afternoon. Yes, I felt slightly guilty as I rode home with my kids on their scooters in the almost-dark. With a car, we would have been home at least half an hour earlier and they wouldn’t have had to motor themselves all the way back. Hang on… that’s a good thing, isn’t it? Why the guilt, then? Ah, it’s a funny society that makes us feel bad for making our kids walk or ride or scoot their way around a small town.

And I really MUST remember to pump up the tyres on the trailer next week. That will make life a lot easier, I’m sure.

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