Long Table Grocery: Roots of Community

By Amy Quarry, Owner, Long Table Grocery —

“The lesson which life repeats and constantly enforces is look underfoot
You are always nearer to the divine and true sources of your power than you think
The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive
The great opportunity is where you are
Do not despise your own place and hour
Every place is under the stars
Every place is the centre of the world.”
—John Burroughs 

Long Table Grocery

Cooking class participants gather around the long table to enjoy a meal prepared together at Long Table Grocery. Photo submitted by Long Table Grocery

This winter marks 18 years since I returned to Quesnel after living away in the city, and every year I find myself reckoning with the choices that have led me to put down roots here. I’ve always been the restless type of soul, and I still find it somewhat startling that I have become planted in one place. From the time I was very small I was determined to be a National Geographic photographer as it was my favourite thing to read. As a young person living in a small town, I was determined to hit the city as soon as I could and never look back.

But, as you may have experienced yourself, life sometimes has a funny way of giving us what we need rather than what we think we want, and I have most definitely fully landed here, happily investing my life in a particular place, in a particular way that is inextricably tied to this community and the people in it.

Even though I never envisioned myself putting down roots this way, investing in community building and place-making now feels more like a safe container that supports my ability to fully experience growth and self-awareness than a restriction, and surprisingly to me, within this commitment is where I’m finding the freedom to become the fullest version of myself. That freedom is something I always thought I would find when I one day had the time and money to travel more or move somewhere more exciting, but it turns out knowing and being known (for better and worse) and really sinking down roots in community and learning how to actively participate in building it has been one of the most rewarding and challenging processes of my life. I have learned many significant lessons in the process, a few of which I would like to share with you here:

How to Build Community

1. Make room at the table for everyone—we all have a role to play.
2. Stay open and curious—ask questions and listen to the answers.
3. Collaborate instead of compete—a rising tide lifts all boats.
4. Share resources—even if all you have is your time.
5. Eat meals together—food is the universal connector.
6. Invest in local businesses, ideas, and organizations.
7. Remember small does not mean insignificant.
8. Be a connector—introduce people to each other.
9. Make time and space for joy, art, and laughter.
10. Speak up and tell the truth—as Brene Brown says, “Clear is kind.”

Participating in community and choosing to be rooted together with others is not always the easiest path, but in my experience the rewards always outweigh the risks. We live in a time in which real-world connections and real-time experiences matter immensely, and doing everything we can do to improve the quality of our relationships with people and the land is critical to building thriving and resilient communities that will grow forward with abundance into the future. -GG

Amy Quarry is an entrepreneur, community-builder, maker, graphic designer, and localist. She loves her small town and strongly believes in the resilience of a community built together.

Long Table Grocery is a locally-owned independent food hub providing good food that is sustainably sourced and locally-rooted in the Cariboo region of BC. As well as providing bi-weekly subscription Harvest Boxes, Long Table Grocery operates a fresh food grocery and low-waste cafe and hosts cooking workshops and community-based food events throughout the year. It is the company’s goal that shopping at Long Table Local is easy, convenient, and a meaningful way to make your purchasing dollars count towards building a more food-secure community for all. Long Table Grocery currently works with more than 40 North Cariboo farmers and food producers, growing community through food.

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