Jefferson vs Hamilton

No, I’m not going to rap about the founding fathers, I’ll leave that to Lin-Manuel Miranda and the rest of his Broadway actors. Today, since my family is leaving on vacation, I’m going to rerun a patriotic blog of mine from a couple of years back. This has not been published on the website yet so I’m serving a dual purpose by posting it here. Oh, and in the spirit of good, ole American volunteerism I’m featuring pictures of a few Market volunteers today. Hope you enjoy it.

Our POP Club interns with their fearless leader, Athena Freedlander, far right.

But first! The Board of Directors and volunteers of the Market want to thank all of our vendors and customers for being patient with us as we deal with the weekly surprises that a live construction site presents. Last week it was a dumpster and backhoe left for the weekend in the space where the Hash Browns and New Grounds food truck normally parks. It may sound trivial but when you’ve got a parking lot full of vendors finding a new space for a 22-foot-long food truck is a big deal. No worry, the CVB building is nearing completion and hopefully we’ll soon have a consistently great space.

A volunteer helping to guide the HB&NG food truck into it’s new, temporary home.

The 4th of July got me to thinking about what some of the founding fathers, particularly Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, would think of the current upsurge in the Buy Fresh Buy Local agricultural scene. Now, it is well known that Jefferson and Hamilton couldn’t have given two figs for each other. And it goes without saying that they didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye on this subject either.

“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous…” – Jefferson in a 1785 letter to John Jay.

From the above quote I think it is fair to assume that one thing Jefferson would give two figs about today is our new found appreciation of, and reliance on, small farmers. In the early days of the republic Jefferson extolled the virtues of an agrarian economy as the healthiest vehicle for the long-term growth of the country. As President he implemented policies that would help to achieve this goal. Now, I’m not naive enough to say that we should have followed that script to the letter but I do think when folks wax rhapsodic about the “good old days” that in many ways they are referring to a time when the country led a more “rural” life.

By that I mean a time when most Americans knew where the food on their table was grown or produced. They probably even knew the farmer or producer personally. In other words, our food supply was not processed in a factory somewhere.

Market founder, Deb Workman, with our grandson and newest volunteer, Samuel

“It has been maintained, that Agriculture is, not only, the most productive, but the only productive species of industry. The reality of this suggestion in either aspect, has, however, not been verified by any accurate detail of facts and calculations…” – Hamilton in his Report on Manufactures to the US Congress, 1791.

As you may be able to ascertain from the above quote, Hamilton, ever in opposition to Jefferson, passionately believed that our future prosperity depended on an economy rooted in industry and manufacturing. Not that he was completely anti-agriculture. The following is from the same report:

“It ought readily to be conceded, that the cultivation of the earth as the primary and most certain source of national supply, (…) has intrinsically a strong claim to pre-eminence over every other kind of industry.”

That being said, Hamilton’s position was that in adhering to an agrarian economy the nation would remain poor and isolated. He may have been right but we’ll never know for sure since, obviously, his vision for the future economy won out over Jefferson’s “agrarian ideal”.

L-R: Market volunteers Cheri Postlethwait and Heidi Nawrocki with vendor Mollie Toppe of Jennings Brae Bank Farm

While I’m not in favor of one over the other, I do think over the course of our history that whenever one or the other has become weakened, many times by forces beyond its control, the country as a whole tends to suffer. And this is one reason why myself, the BFM Board, and other like-minded individuals, many of whom are also involved in “industry and manufacturing”, are so passionate about supporting our local farmers.

In this, as in all things in life, balance and moderation should be the order of the day.

Happy 4th of July, Loyal Readers. Go out and set off some fireworks!

Until next time, Stay Fresh!

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