The growing of a local system is a complex endeavor. In many ways, it mimics nature itself. There are many different structures and systems that are involved, that grow and inter-act with each other.
The Oklahoma Food Cooperative is such a structure; so are the various producers that are marketing into the local economy.
And so are businesses such as April Harrington's Market-Bakery.
She fills a unique and irreplaceable role in the local food system. She buys excess produce from local farmers in season, preserves it, and produces delicious food products which are bought year-round by customers. In addition, several other local entrepreneurs rent her facilities or contract with her to produce their products which they sell to their customers.
Unfortunately for April, her customers, her employees, the other food businesses who use her bakery, and the farmers whose produce she buys, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is doing its best to put her out of business.
The state wants to widen the highway that runs by her bakery, and so her building – and thus her business – will be taken by the state for the highway project. ODOT is talking low-ball money offers and a drop dead date of January 1, 2011 for her to get out of her building. That isn’t enough time to replace the facilities elsewhere and relocate her business, and I don’t think they are offering her enough money either. AFAIK, they are offering nothing to help with business relocation, nor compensation for the down-time of her business while she relocates. They will do nothing for her employees, for the other entrepreneurs who rent her facilities, nor for the farmers who are dependent upon her as a market for their excess and #2 produce.
What’s happening to April Harrington is a terrible crime of social and economic injustice.
A business like April’s just doesn’t happen over night. She has worked smart and hard to create a unique business that fills an important niche in the developing local food scene in Oklahoma. Times are hard enough these days without the State coming in and destroying jobs and businesses for no good reason in rural areas.
This is a political issue, and this is an election year.
Folks, it's time to swarm the barricades in defense of April Harrington, her employees, the entrepreneurs who rent her bakery, her customers, and the farmers whose produce she buys.
I urge everyone to contact their representatives and senators in the state legislature and the governor to demand justice for April Harrington – and her customers, employees, the entrepreneurs who rent her bakery, and the farmers whose produce she buys.