There is more to the story…
It is estimated that over $300M dollars leaves St Lawrence County every year because our people buy imported food instead of locally grown -and- we are currently having a worldwide fertilizer crisis like we’ve never seen before, with prices tripling this year and forecasts of serious shortages. This will affect crop and livestock farmers. Projections of food shortages are already being discussed worldwide.
On our farm, instead of synthetic fertilizer, we get our fertility from many inputs, including composted manure, old feed, food waste and rotational cover cropping. Instead of mining the resources to farm, we capture and create them. This is true of many small farms in the north country. They are local resource businesses, some of the most important to our local economy -AND- instead of mining the resource and using it up, we are creating more of it by improving our land.
This isn’t just about growing local food and keeping food waste from a landfill, it’s about providing the best products for our community, keeping money in our local economy, and utilizing our resources as best as possible.
A study done by Michael Shuman “Growing the North Country from the Inside Out” gives us some really good information but uses federal analysis tools and must be interpreted by local communities to be useful. Shuman presented this to a few groups including the local IDAs. Shuman argues, quite successfully against the idea that big business is the answer for any local economy. Instead, he proves out that the strength rests with smaller locally owned and controlled businesses. He uses the term LOIS “Locally Owned Import Substituting” to describe the types of businesses that could help make important positive economic changes. Locals stick with it and return more funds than the average local economic multiplier effect. This local economic multiplier has been estimated from .6 to as much as 4X, and occasionally more. Agriculture and local resource businesses have a high multiplier.
Shuman notes several opportunities, and amongst them agriculture and energy, stating “Similarly, energy efficiency, which also shrinks local dependence on outside energy imports, can continue to be an important job creator.” Fertilizer IS energy.
One of the important concepts that Shuman mentions in his paper is investing in Main Street vs Wall Street. He lists many banks that are located in our towns, but many are not locally minded banks. He estimates the total savings including retirement, of the North Country residents, and notes that almost all of it is invested in Wall Street! He states that for every 1% of capital that North Country residents shift from Wall Street to Main Street would make $390 million more dollars available to local business. Be a part of the change you want to see! We need to have vision, purpose, planning and faith in order to understand how to move our great little towns towards this vision. When this is well thought out and embraced, we the people should be willing to invest in OUR Main Street! – right here.
We want to form a partnership with you, a relationship, to start a positive environmental and economic movement in our area. Will you join us?