The Wheatsfield Community
Wheatsfield Board Member
This summer, as Wheatsfield continues to struggle with the increasing competitive market place, I have been reminded of the community that is Wheatsfield.
While each fall we have an influx of students and new faculty to Ames, the summer is unique with many short-term visitors. The enthusiasm of the short-term visitors can tell us quite a bit about our community. The summer is also a time that I enjoy the bounty of foods from many local producers, who are a central part of the Wheatsfield community.
A summer intern that I happen to know from two communities in Ames, has been coming to Wheatsfield three to four times a week. One of the challenges of a summer internship is to adapt to an 8-hour work day, by filling the rest of the week with something other than studying and activities from their home institution. This summer intern spoke of how much she loved the community at Wheatsfield. She would stop by to shop and during bike rides as she filled her weeks with something other than around the clock classes and studying. Every time we would talk about Wheatsfield, she would get a gleam in her eye of how much she loved it.
For my partner and I, we experience the Wheatsfield community a bit differently. Suzanne finds at least one person in every aisle to talk to. As they are talking, I keep wandering the aisles visiting my friends. If you look above the shelves, there are many posters with the friendly faces of the local producers. While the posters don’t talk much, the pictures and products speak of the passion that each of those producers put into their food and products. When eating the vegetables, milk, cheese, and eggs, I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to be fed by the fruits of their efforts.
Every now and then, I get to shop while these local producers are there giving out samples. The glow I see in their faces as they tell me about their products and my joy from tasting something that the person produced is one of the reasons that I shop at Wheatsfield. If I am going to consume food and enjoy it, a connection to the source of the food makes is that much more wonderful.
The relationships at Wheatsfield, whether with the staff, food producers, other shoppers, or the posters and products, defines the community. If you are one who loves to socialize like my partner and the summer intern, it is the place to enjoy shopping and hanging out. If you are like me, (yup – I am one of those introverted engineers) there are the posters and the food itself to be in community with.
While the community of Wheatsfield is healthy and wonderful, the Wheatsfield business needs to be nourished by more people shopping there. The competition for the products sold at Wheatsfield has increased over the past several years, lowering the percentage of the market that Wheatsfield gathers. The community at Wheatsfield is a clear differentiator from the competitors, not as a gimmick, but who we are. If you consider Wheatsfield part of your community, please help with increasing the presence of others.