GLASGOW — It was while Brandi Button was recovering from an auto accident in which she broke her neck that she realized she wanted to live close to her family.
During her recovery, she was surrounded by her family and community, people who loved her and cared about her.
“This is where I know people and this where I grew up and this where I have a place,” she said. “I feel like that is what has kept me here.”
Prior to the crash, she didn’t feel that way. She was like most young people who have a desire to leave home and explore the world. She lived in Nashville and then moved out West to work at Yellowstone National Park, but experiencing that love and support during her recovery caused her to re-evaluate life in general and what she wanted for her own family.
“More than anything I want my children to be able to experience what it feels like to be a part of a family whether that is biological or the community as whole,” she said.
Button and her husband, Josh Johnson, have been together for 12 years. They met when they were both working at Mammoth Cave National Park.
They share a desire to not only be near family, but to be sustainable and socially responsible.
Button grew up on a tobacco farm in the Park City area. Her grandparents were very sustainable in the way they lived mostly out of necessity.
“I decided that’s how I wanted to live,” she said. “It seemed like a lifestyle that not only aligned with that but also was very socially responsible and helped me to see what was valuable in life.
“I knew if we started a family I wanted my children to be able to do that. Like you don’t need a huge house and five cars and a lot of material things to be happy.”
Johnson had a desire to have the same type of lifestyle.
He was working on an organic farm in the Park City area and selling produce at the farmers market that used to set up at Saint Andrews Episcopal Church along Columbia Avenue when he decided to go to a Sustainable Glasgow informational meeting.
The farmers market at Saint Andrews eventually became the Bounty of the Barrens farmers market, which sets up on Saturdays around Glasgow’s public square in the summer and at the Barren County Cooperative Extension Office in the winter.
Johnson, a musician, was eventually invited to perform, along with his friend, Ty Bowles, at the farmers market when it was in the parking lot behind BB&T bank. It was the last farmers market of the season.
The following summer Johnson was asked by Sustainable Glasgow officials to coordinate the music for the farmers market.
The farmers market has live musical performances when it sets up around Glasgow’s public square in the summer. It is Johnson’s job to call various musicians to see if they would like to perform.
That responsibility eventually led to him becoming the market manager.
It was about the time that he became the market manager that Button began work on a master’s degree in social responsibility and sustainable communities.
She attended Sustainable Glasgow’s informational meeting with Johnson. She started out as a farmers market customer and then wound up doing an internship with the organization.
“I wanted to … do something in my actual community I was from. It seemed like the perfect place to do that,” she said.
It was how she was raised that sparked her interest in the organization.
Button eventually became the executive director of Sustainable Glasgow and is now involved with efforts to establish a year-round location for the farmers market with the possible development of a new park in downtown Glasgow.
She also sings with her husband, even though they have never performed at the farmers market, or at least not yet.
They began singing together when they first started dating and have performed together for several years.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Johnson said.
He writes all of the original music they perform and Button says it is reflective of their interests.
“He has one (song) called ‘Grandaddy’ that’s really personal as far as his values of family. There’s one called ‘Farm Song’ that kind of reflects on being raised here and what that means,” she said.
The name of their band is The Jenny Roads and they have appeared on “Lost River Sessions,” a television concert series launched by Western Kentucky University’s Public Broadcasting Station and Public Radio in Bowling Green, in 2019.
“Of all the things we’ve done, besides the thing we did at the Plaza (Theatre) when we did ‘The Last Waltz’ at the Plaza for the first time, … I think the thing we did at the Capitol (Theatre) in Bowling Green with ‘Lost River Sessions’ was probably the neatest thing because we had a couple of friends to join us,” Johnson said. “It was great. I was very proud of that night.”
While the couple believes in being self-sustaining and socially responsible, they do not farm. But they have raised a garden over the years.
“We have had a big garden and very productive gardens, but since the kids have been born, our gardens have struggled,” Johnson said, adding what better place to come to each week than the farmers market where they can support local producers and still eat fresh.
The couple still performs about once or twice a month. Johnson still works at Mammoth Cave and Button is a teacher at the Montessori Academy of Glasgow.
They do it all while raising two children — Zinnia, who will be 2 in March, and Hickory, who is 5.
“We stay really busy. That’s for sure, but I think part of it is we have so much variety that none of it ever seems overwhelming or dull,” Johnson said.