I was 5.) picking green beans at the Stewart’s tonight about 8–after 1.) collecting apple trees and grape vines from my neighbors and apple guru Lee Calhoun’s, 2.) picking up my CSA and chatting with Jason and Haruka at the co-op farm, 3.) a stop at Chatham Marketplace Co-op for Big Fat Gap and Zulayka’s Liberacion Juice Station (my favorite new entrepreneur) and much appreciated chatter with, my inspiration, Lyle and, newest friends, Carol and Mark, 4.)  and a third stop at the City Tap for Beth Turner’s Girls Rock (my favorite non-profitwomder woman) and a few more hugs from Kim and Michael and Rachel and Beth and . . . –and I realized it is time to blog again.

In the next weeks I’m making a move to a farm.  Keenan McDonald and I are moving onto the beautiful land owned by Carol and Mark Hewitt–right on the edge of Pittsboro proper.  Out buildings, big huge farmhouse, pond, rolling fields and woods.  Magic.  Keenan is moving her duck herd and we will be building her Duck Run Farm at this new site.  I can’t help thinking/wondering: letting my chickens and ducks out and in come morning and evening tops my days’ events–everyday–and so is this routine going to be as much fun when it involves 10x the number for feathered creatures?  10x the fun?  🙂

I look forward to learning from Keenan, having a housemate again, having new cats in my home, the prospect of goats, planting an orchard, getting a pet guinea hog (haven’t convinced Keenan of that one yet . . .), certifying the kitchen, digging a root cellar, making cheese again . . .  Mark and Carol have been fabulous; we are all excited, and with friends already offering to jump in to help, whoohoo, here we go!

For those who missed it:

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Governor Bev Perdue pledged her full support today for building a sustainable local food economy for North Carolina during remarks at the Farm to Fork Summit in Raleigh.

“I’m on your team. Tell me what you need to grow this whole new industry,” she said to a large gathering of sustainable farmers and agricultural officials, activists, chefs, entrepreneurs and community advocates from across the state. . “If you need a Sustainable Agriculture Council, you tell me… I understand..I will join with you.”

“We are a diverse agricultural community and I want to let everyone know it’s important to have consumers like me make it a priority to buy locally and buy sustainably,” Perdue said at the McKimmon Conference and Training Center on the N.C. State University campus. “You are beginning to change the tide, directing the links between local agriculture and jobs and the economy. You all are red hot. Finally people across the state and the country are beginning to realize you are red hot.”

Many thanks to former US Rep. Eva Clayton, a strong advocate of sustainable farming and food, who attended and supported the two-day summit and surely helped the Governor’s thinking on this. More details, including a summary of “game changers” at: http://sustainablegrub.wordpress.com

from Dee Reid, Sustainable Grub
http://sustainablegrub.wordpress.com

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full SUMMIT site at http://www.cefsfarmtofork.com

feedthefarm music for the soilOff to Abundance’s Feed the Farm fundraiser in Pittsboro on what I hope will be a beautiful, sunny day; it should be good.

Monday and Tuesday we’ll be hosting the statewide Farm to Fork Summit, the cap gathering of last year’s work at CEFS . . . It has been deeply good.

Two things to offer before I go feed my neighbor’s chickens, and neighbors feeding neighbor’s chicken, very good:

IMG_31381.) my first CSA pick-up from Jason and Haruka Oatis at Edible EarthScapes (09 is the first year since I’ve been in Chatham County, 2000, that Doug Jones hasn’t been my CSA farmer . . .).  Jason and Haruka are new and doing an amazing job of getting the incubator at the Biofuels Co-op going: what good participation in an incubator means?  They have a better farm plan this year than last, are making a great name for themselves at market, they are experimenting in marketing and production (csa this year and they are growing rice!), AND they already are work with a landowner to buy five acres that will be  THeiR farm when they pass on this space and hoop house to the next new farmer at the co-op inc.  Plus they smile and play and love thier world.

AND

2.) Will Allen‘s manifesto, if you haven’t caught it via email yet

A Good Food Manifesto for America, By Will Allen

I am a farmer. While I find that this has come to mean many other things to other people – that I have become also a trainer and teacher, and to some a sort of food philosopher – I do like nothing better than to get my hands into good rich soil and sow the seeds of hope.
So, spring always enlivens me and gives me the energy to make haste, to feel confidence, to take full advantage of another all-too-short Wisconsin summer.

This spring, however, much more so than in past springs, I feel my hope and confidence mixed with a sense of greater urgency. This spring, I know that my work will be all the more important, for the simple but profound reason that more people are hungry.

For years I have argued that our food system is broken, and I have tried to teach what I believe must be done to fix it. This year, and last, we have begun seeing the unfortunate results of systemic breakdown. We have seen it in higher prices for those who can less afford to pay, in lines at local food pantries, churches and missions, and in the anxious eyes of people who have suddenly become unemployed. We have seen it, too, in nationwide outbreaks of food-borne illness in products as unlikely as spinach and peanuts.

Severe economic recession certainly has not helped matters, but the current economy is not alone to blame. This situation has been spinning toward this day for decades. And while many of my acquaintances tend to point the finger at the big agro-chemical conglomerates as villains, the fault really is with all of us who casually, willingly, even happily surrendered our rights to safe, wholesome, affordable and plentiful food in exchange for over-processed and pre-packaged convenience.

Over the past century, we allowed our agriculture to become more and more industrialized, more and more reliant on unsustainable practices, and much more distant from the source to the consumer. We have allowed corn and soybeans, grown on the finest farmland in the world, to become industrial commodities rather than foodstuffs. We have encouraged a system by which most of the green vegetables we eat come from a few hundred square miles of irrigated semi-desert in California.

When fuel prices skyrocket, as they did last year, things go awry. When a bubble like ethanol builds and then bursts, things go haywire. When drought strikes that valley in California, as is happening right now, things start to topple. And when the whole economy shatters, the security of a nation’s food supply teeters on the brink of failure.

To many people, this might sound a bit hysterical. There is still food in the suburban supermarket aisles, yes. The shelves are not empty; there are no bread lines. We haven’t read of any number of Americans actually starving to death.

No, and were any of those things to happen, you can rest assured that there would be swift and vigorous action. What is happening is that many vulnerable people, especially in the large cities where most of us live, in vast urban tracts where there are in fact no supermarkets, are being forced to buy cheaper and lower-quality foods, to forgo fresh fruits and vegetables, or are relying on food programs – including our children’s school food programs – that by necessity are obliged to distribute any kind of food they can afford, good for you or not. And this is coming to haunt us in health care and social costs. No, we are not suddenly starving to death; we are slowly but surely malnourishing ourselves to death. And this fate is falling ever more heavily on those who were already stressed: the poor. Yet there is little action.

Many astute and well-informed people beside myself, most notably Michael Pollan, in a highly persuasive treatise last fall in the New York Times, have issued these same warnings and laid out the case for reform of our national food policy. I need not go on repeating what Pollan and others have already said so well, and I do not wish merely to add my voice to a chorus.
I am writing to demand action.

It is time and past time for this nation, this government, to react to the dangers inherent in its flawed farm and food policies and to reverse course from subsidizing wealth to subsidizing health.

We have to stop paying the largest farm subsidies to large growers of unsustainable and inedible crops like cotton. We have to stop paying huge subsidies to Big Corn, Big Soy and Big Chem to use prime farmland to grow fuel, plastics and fructose. We have to stop using federal and state agencies and institutions as taxpayer-funded research arms for the very practices that got us into this mess.

We have to start subsidizing health and well-being by rewarding sustainable practices in agriculture and assuring a safe, adequate and wholesome food supply to all our citizens. And we need to start this reform process now, as part of the national stimulus toward economic recovery.

In my organization, Growing Power Inc. of Milwaukee, we have always before tried to be as self-sustaining as possible and to rely on the market for our success. Typically, I would not want to lean on government support, because part of the lesson we teach is to be self-reliant.
But these are not typical times, as we are now all too well aware.

As soon as it became clear that Congress would pass the National Recovery Act, I and members of my staff brainstormed ideas for a meaningful stimulus package aimed at creating green jobs, shoring up the security of our urban food systems, and promoting sound food policies of national scope. The outcome needed to be both “shovel-ready” for immediate impact and sustainable for future growth.

We produced a proposal for the creation of a public-private enabling institution called the Centers for Urban Agriculture. It would incorporate a national training and outreach center, a large working urban farmstead, a research and development center, a policy institute, and a state-of-the-future urban agriculture demonstration center into which all of these elements would be combined in a functioning community food system scaled to the needs of a large city.
We proposed that this working institution – not a “think tank” but a “do tank” – be based in Milwaukee, where Growing Power has already created an operating model on just two acres. But ultimately, satellite centers would become established in urban areas across the nation. Each would be the hub of a local or regional farm-to-market community food system that would provide sustainable jobs, job training, food production and food distribution to those most in need of nutritional support and security.

This proposal was forwarded in February to our highest officials at the city, state and federal level, and it was greeted with considerable approval. Unfortunately, however, it soon became clear that the way Congress had structured the stimulus package, with funds earmarked for only particular sectors of the economy, chiefly infrastructure, afforded neither our Congressional representatives nor our local leaders with the discretion to direct any significant funds to this innovative plan. It simply had not occurred to anyone that immediate and lasting job creation was plausible in a field such as community-based agriculture.
I am asking Congress today to rectify that oversight, whether by modifying the current guidelines of the Recovery Act or by designating new and dedicated funds to the development of community food systems through the creation of this national Centers for Urban Agriculture.
Our proposal budgeted the initial creation of this CUA at a minimum of $63 million over two years – a droplet compared to the billions being invested in other programs both in the stimulus plan and from year-to-year in the federal budget.

Consider that the government will fund the Centers for Disease Control at about $8.8 billion this year, and that is above the hundreds of millions more in research grants to other bio-medical institutions, public and private. This is money well spent for important work to ensure Americans the best knowledge in protecting health by fighting disease; but surely by now we ought to recognize that the best offense against many diseases is the defense provided by a healthy and adequate diet. Yet barely a pittance of CDC money goes for any kind of preventive care research.

In 2008, the Department of Homeland Security approved spending $450 million for a new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility at Kansas State University, in addition to the existing Biosecurity Research Institute already there. Again, money well spent to protect our food supply from the potential of a terrorist attack. But note that these hundreds of millions are being spent to protect us from a threat that may never materialize, while we seem to trivialize the very real and material threat that is upon us right now: the threat of malnourishment and undernourishment of very significant number of our citizens.

Government programs under the overwhelmed and overburdened departments of Agriculture and of Health and Human Services do their best to serve their many masters, but in the end, government farm and food policies are most often at odds between the needs of the young, the old, the sick and the poor versus the wants of the super-industry that agriculture has become.
By and large, the government’s funding of nutritional health comes down to spending millions on studies to tell us what we ought to eat without in any way guaranteeing that many people will be able to find or afford the foods they recommend. For instance, food stamps ensure only that poor people can buy food; they cannot ensure that, in the food deserts that America’s inner cities have become, there will be any good food to buy.

We need a national nutrition plan that is not just another entitlement, that is not a matter of shipping surplus calories to schools, senior centers, and veterans’ homes. We need a plan that encourages a return to the best practices of both farming and marketing, that rewards the grower who protects the environment and his customers by nourishing his soil with compost instead of chemicals and who ships his goods the shortest distance, not the longest.
If the main purpose of government is to provide for the common security of its citizens, surely ensuring the security of their food system must be among its paramount duties. And if among our rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we are denied all those rights if our cities become prisons of poverty and malnutrition.

As an African-American farmer, I am calling on the first African-American president of the United States to lead us quickly away from this deepening crisis. Demand, President Obama, that Congress and your own Administration begin without delay the process of reforming our farm and food policies. Start now by correcting the omission in your economic stimulus and recovery act that prevented significant spending on creating new and sustainable jobs for the poor in our urban centers as well as rural farm communities.
It will be an irony, certainly, but a sweet one, if millions of African-Americans whose grandparents left the farms of the South for the factories of the North, only to see those factories close, should now find fulfillment in learning once again to live close to the soil and to the food it gives to all of us.
I would hope that we can move along a continuum to make sure that all of citizens have access to the same fresh, safe, affordable good food regardless of their cultural, social or economic situation.
Will Allen

5500 W. Silver Spring Dr.
Milwaukee WI 53218
Phone: (414) 527-1546
Fax: (414) 527-1908
http://www.growingpower.org <http://www.growingpower.org/&gt;
will@growingpower.org

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September 21st-24th I spent in Raleigh at the ELP’s national conference on the Politics of Food. There were numerous good workshops, but mostly the people I met, from literally near and far, will impact my life–that’s “it” right?

Close to home: Eva Clayton opened as keynote, and hearing her was an inspiration as always. Chris Rumley and Rob Jones–with Good Work and Bountiful Backyards–will be partners on some future project I’m certain, and Chris has already introduced me to Margie Ellison, who is phenomenal and already we are working together to find a grad student fto help her develop a community garden and documentary project at the Pittsboro Fair Grounds here in my own town–the Fair Grounds is one of two African American owned fair grounds in NC, plus she’s helping me with outreach for the Center for Environmental Farming Systems’Statewide Initiative on building a local, sustainable food system in NC. I love that gut knowing when you meet people and just know your paths are going to intertwine.

Since this was in our backyard, two of the conference fieldtrips came to Goldsboro, one to CEFS and one to the Wayne County – Community Food Systems Initiative, more affectionately known as WFI. We had a blast, but I’ll let you read about the conference and our tour in Andrea Gram and Justin Van Kleeck’s elp summary

–but here’s an excerpt cause I’m still teary-eyed over how amazing they were. Will get a video and post it soon!

What came next nearly brought everyone in the room to tears: the children gathered around their music teacher and keyboardist to present two very creative and powerful music ensembles that they had created – not to tote the values of a MTV music culture but to celebrate the joys of fresh vegetables and healthy eating habits! It was the most heart-warming experience I’d had in a long time, all the while munching on the delicious pear preserves and biscuits they had prepared especially for us. The moments of vulnerability, hope, and pride that flickered across their faces as these children strutted their stuff before our teary-eyed audience was a powerfully moving experience. In fact, it left my cheeks sore from permagrin and the incalculable joy of it all. Now that was some real Southern hospitality!

And then there are those friends from afar, I’ll just mention two from MI–Guy Williams, who I met a year or two ago at Iantha Gantt-Wright’s Diverse Partner’s for Environmental Progress Conference and we’ve been keeping touch ever since. He’s working for Fair Food Foundation now and loves it, though I can’t keep up with his travels! I am completely convinced that Guy, workign with FFF, is going to change the world.  And I met Malik Yakini, founder of Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN), who has a packet of stuff he’s going to send me to help us in Wayne with our kids curriculum development . . . and whom I just liked talking with . . . but he’s beyond busy, has just moved his school, plus I suspect does something daily to improve the planet. He did send me a link to a great video on detroit today! Check it out! DBCFSN is doing soil remediation work that is going to be vital to cities all over the country, but the positive energy growing in Detroit is truly an inspiration to us all. watch video on Detroit’s food efforts!

Honestly, couldn’t begin to count the number of folks I’ve crossed paths with in powerful ways in last month or twenty four hours, and really that’s just cause I’m back at work. I sat with Lyle Estill on the sidewalk of my local food co-op, Chatham Marketplace, here in Pittsboro with a big bucket of chalk and talked about the town farm/community garden to be. It is still an idea, but the idea is in the middle of a neighborhood that is right out the back of the mill property on the back side of the food coop, and just a few blocks away from the fairgrounds where Ms. Margie is going to have kids gardening and gathering for music.

Connect a few people together, and ideas come to fruition.

cross-posted on http://waynefoods.wordpress.com/

Well, I’ve entered the world of “too-busy”: it was two days before I learned that the child ofsunflowers.jpg dear friends had a serious accident. She is still in ICU but she is going to make it. please send prayers to Kaitlin Estill, one of the most beautiful of Lyle Estill’s energy creations.

And all else seems small in face of it . . .
but in my sequestered life, the “too busy” seems to have taken over–between the draught and my dissertation, I let my garden go about a month ago, and it is gone. I’ve no fall garden in sight, other than seeds on the counter that should have gone in the ground weeks ago. There are about five pounds of jalapenos in my frige that I’ve yet to pickle, and all I’ve put up so far this Septemeber is about forty frozen fried green tomato patties and my latest crop of shiitake mushrooms. The last of my sunflowers–grown on Lyle’s land in fact–are cut and on my kitchen table. Wish I could send them to kaitlin. Mmm . . . haven’t blogged in ages either.

All is and will be ok. I am writing, I am buying more from the farmers market than I usually need to this time of year, I am still eating local daily (at least 90% on average), and have an awesome new housemate who I’m fast converting into a (paranoid, I’m afraid) locovore (the crash course being necessary though, as she’s the new marketing director for our Chatham Marketplace food co-op!).

cameron

That said, I also have made what feels like an active transgression. We’re making Kombucha. Primary ingredients: black tea and sugar–two things not normally on my motherkombucha.jpgpurchase list, and yet here I am with pots of fermenting liquid and burgeoning mushrooms popping up on every spare shelf. Bound and determined not to turn to coffee in this dissertation madness, and not interested in spending $3.50 daily for storebought . . . And the cool piece in the story? The mother came from Cameron, my new housemate, via Alan at CM. (Alan also deemed my Rejuvelac a disaster, not that the smell didn’t give that away . . .)

I’ve co-opted it, with my typical “yea! moments-away-from-my-computer” passion. Today I branched into decaf mango tea . . . so not local . . . but I do have some dehydrated peaches somewhere, so next batch . . . I won’t linger long enough to write the recipe; they are everywhere on the web. But we do have a growing supply of babies/potential mothers, and a growing number of pages to send to my printer.

If you want an update on Kaitlin, check Lyle’s energy blog at piedmont biofuels, or the page jess made.

keeping things in perspective . . .

growth whoohoo–ok, another photo collection cause I’m busy dissertating when I’m not working on the annual SSAWG conference (Southern Sustainable Ag Working Group) with Jean Mills. But here we are The Soutestern Regional Network

of the

Environmental Leadership Program

SERN ELP

That’s us, the inaugural Southern collective . . .

And below is the ELP staff: Errol, Maria, Cerise, and Edward McNally (Edward is one of the regional advisory board members and he hung with us all weekend, and Frank Peterman, another board member, not pictured, was there the first day–fabulous humans!)

elp staff

elp retreat conference roomgloriously goofyworkdays

workdays in session

sarah–peapod1adam peapod4my (pea)pod: Sarah (TN), Adam (AL), Omar (SC), Billie (NC), and me (NC)omar peapod2billie peapod3

Iantha, Barb, and me me with Iantha and Barb, our diversity facilitators

market pea shllerbirmingham farmers marketfarmers market

A few of us popped off to the Birmingham PepperPlace farmers market sat am before our 9am start-time. It was fabulous: we got some real food/not cafeteria food (notice I took no pictures of our meals, which is unlike me, yes?), coffee, and a taste (literally, weak pun sorry) of the locale. Notice the Dr. Pepper sign in background of last photo–old plant is the site of this growers only market, which is quite large, full of great variety, had live music, multiple coffee stands, and crafts as well as produce and cut flowers. Really, was a blissful outting for me, Sarah Bellos (we’ve two Sarah’s), Davina, Edward, Ben, Errol, Billie. And we were only five minutes late getting back on site.

 

just for those paying attention to personal details: seeing my family in the Catskills was wonderful (though missing my little brother), my new boss at SSAWG is fabulous, and the date was seriously sweet too. And I came home to multiple birthday celebrations with friends. life is good te

Busy dissertating and trying to get out of town for a week: 4 days with family in Catskills in NY, 4 days in Birmingham with Southeastern Environmental Leadership folks, a meeting with Jean Mills in Birmingham about SSAWG conference in Kty in Jan, and a very promising blind date in Birmingham. I’ll let you know . . .

Here’s the post I wanted to write anyway from eat local.

And here are picutures from CIRA conference and working meeting a couple weeks ago:

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excerpt from a campus admiinistrator write up:

The CIRA Collaboration on Re-Localizing Food provides an example of the engagement the Center fosters. An interdisciplinary team of UNC-CH faculty and graduate students work with three different regions in North Carolina. Two of the regions (the NE and the SE) are lead by grassroots organizations with over 25 years of experience each. The third region (the NW) is headed by the founder of the Sustainable Development Program at ASU working closely with the Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture and other Appalachian groups. At UNC-CH, the CIRA Collaboration team is composed of 9 faculty and 7 graduate students from the Anthropology, City and Regional Planning, Communications Studies, the Ecology Curriculum, Epidemiology and Nutrition. The discussion at our July 2007 conference and planning meeting on re-localizing food was aided by representatives from the Heifer Project, Rural Advancement Foundation International, Center for Environmental Farming Systems (at NCSU) and many other non-profit organizations and institutions working on local food systems in the state. Our main goals for this year are to undertake participatory food systems assessments across the regions in order to identify interests, desires, opportunities and potential for strengtthening localized food and to organize a statewide youth summit on sustainable food systems.