Our vision for a better future food system involves solving both the issue of food insecurity for disenfranchised communities, & financial insolvency plaguing many small farms. We will feed those in need, and provide an economic safety net for the farming families that are restoring the Rockwellian image of regenerative agriculture to our landscape.
We want to address BOTH the adequacy of the food supply, AND the means of community co-created change involving food acquisition, equitable distribution, & production. Other activists, and NGOs have led efforts in one direction or the other without tying both together. The symbiosis of the elements in the long term goal of our vision system is key. Supporting verdant & responsible farming, and encouraging growing food in small unused personal & community spaces will act in concert w/ our education program, & seed bank to empower our community to make some for these positive changes for themselves. This is an essential for 2050.
Our vision for 2050 is one that understands that there is an essential inter-connectedness between economy, diet, tech,culture, & environment. It is OUR responsibility to move the bar forward in order to create a better world for those to come, & one that is better suited to meet our needs in a practical way without doing further damage to our most precious commodity, the Earth. We are strategically poised to be able to effect great preservation of culture & at the same time benefit the land & diets of those in our community by celebrating the deep collective history we have as Virginians & the richness of the individuals from all over the globe that weave together to intricately form the bright fabric of our unique multi-cultural society. Food is a major actor in transmission of cultural traditions & history. It tells a story, & by preserving it, we can use the way people think about food & culture to sing those stories to future generations. By creating new ways & reviving old ways we relate to food we will impact thinking about food & culture through education. Education about each others culture leads to greater understanding & respect. A community informed about diet & the environment can lead to greater innovation in technology, & can influence greater policy changes. All are interlocking & related.
When this is addressed, the population is appropriately feed, & the land cared, for the symbiotic human-environment circle is complete. This would have a huge impact on all aspects of life from arts to economics. Removing the threats to health & environment & healing both our community’s soul, and the land will allow people who otherwise many not have had time, education, or resources to do so, to be more inspired, creative & innovative. We can impact the pace of innovation by making sure the most basic of needs are met in a better way, & at the same time nurturing their sense of identity. This will lead to a better self actualization in 2050 for the general population & a better future we can only imagine.
Here’s what we want to do
Let’s tackle feeding the 9-13% of people going hungry at any given time. It’s completely unnecessary given we throw away SO MUCH unsold food. We use the unsold products from small family farms, education, and seed banks to do it. We will compensate sustainable farms for products which will be a safety net for them, & empower those who are willing & able to garden for themselves with free seeds and information. Utilizing spare green space in this way will provide the therapeutic benefits of gardening to food insecure neighborhoods, & encourage food sovereignty. Being able to provide for one’s self is Incredibly empowering & will encourage connections like learning about one’s own traditions & cultures through food & sharing it with others.
Economic Impact on Poverty
We have built relationships with local food pantries, NGOs that serve target demographics (homeless, single mothers,battered women) those that prepare community meals in public parks for the hungry, Meals on Wheels, etc, and have successfully created a network of pick up locations & delivery drivers & scaleable. By bringing in more farms we will be able to reach a wider audience & benefit the farms @ the same time thereby encouraging responsible agriculture. Many times our clients have a set of circumstances which temporarily leave them in precarious situations. Some fail to qualify for SNAP by only a few dollars and are left having to choose between gas to get to work & food or medications. They may have no transportation to get to the food bank & for one reason or another don’t have the emotional or mental capacity to reach out to social services for help. Some are intimidated by the process, some are homeless. We are able to fill the gap with quality food that supports the diverse family farms in the state.
Changing how those with food insecurity think about & relate to healthy food, the lack thereof, or what is available to them can have profound effects on the areas health. This will intrinsically also change the economic outlook for these communities, & have a butterfly effect on the wider region. Food that was formerly a kind of conspicuous consumption commodity reserved for the wealthy & upper middle class enjoying leisurely weekends at the farmer’s market will be purchased en mass from local farms with donations we receive through charitable giving from corporations and community members. Food insecure households often times rely on food pantries that don’t always have the most healthful items made available to them such as week old cupcakes or butter drenched garlic bread from large retailers. I by no means want it to go to waste but I think that by making a source of excellent quality food we can reaffirm their dignity by asserting that they too are worthy of quality food. Sometimes the worst part of poverty is the shame that goes with it. When you give the best you have to someone in this situation it can convey to them something so much deeper. It can reinforce their worth and change their whole mindset.
We with local government committees to inform our local farmers about preserving farmland & development rights & helping them overall blend technology w/ responsible stewardship. We work to help network the farms which are the keystone of the operation to garner more access & higher visibility to the public and boost their retail sales.
To improve these situations will include integrating more broadband access to those affected (both farmers and those who need good quality food). The area is incredibly diverse in demographics & is also diverse in who has access to technology & information to help start to formulate plans to solve these problems. Currently in Virginia much of the state is without even basic internet service. The dearth of tech infrastructure happens to be the area in with the most fertile arable land in Virginia. There are high priced solutions to this not everyone can afford. This complicates access both for impoverished, AND the farmers who live in these areas attempting to cultivate pockets of regenerative land management in areas where previously cash crops were king. It is a massive disadvantage to both the people impacted by this and the state’s economy as a whole. Currently the infrastructure is not in place to support development of this, & local governments are struggling with how best to remedy the situation in concert with utility cooperatives, & private businesses. If we can change this in the coming years we can make great strides in changing the lives of those affected by food insecurity, subsequent generations as well as farmers, and aspiring farmers.
This is especially important given the current situation that has diminished exports to China. Many family farms who previously relied on export are being bankrupt by the fallout from policies that have been enacted. The death of “the yeoman farmer” is upon us. Bailouts, do not reach the farmer in time to save them from becoming bankrupt. Historically the trend to larger and larger farms does not reverse itself. We must end the “agricultural apartheid” that puts all the power in huge vertically integrated conglomerates and restore the opportunities in agriculture that once existed for families in the United States. Industrialized ag is swooping in to consolidate bankrupt farms & in doing so pushing us farther from food sovereignty & towards environmental disaster. This is troubling because when you analyze smaller farm vs. larger farm output per acre is massively increased with the smaller farm. This economic verity is more so true in farms under 20 acres with diversification of products. W/ diversification also comes the restoration of the traditional farmer from what today is little more than a technician to a true artisan that really knows the land & works as an essential part of the ecosystem. Save the farms, Save the environment, Feed the people.
Instead of standing on the sidelines watching it implode we must find a way to dismantle it down & build a new system that does. If we can embrace the narrative of “clean energy” that allows us to obviate the inconvenience of “less energy” by trending towards renewable sources we certainly can trend towards clean agriculture because our survival is dependent upon it. Doing the work of implementing this has the potential to change many lives for the better.
To take it one step further we could include local restaurants & grocers that specialize in local farms products to curtail losses for them as well. This plan in motion will be a societal ablution for our malfeasance, & end hunger in our area & enable nonprofits that are in the trenches directly feeding people to focus more energy on delivery of services & less on perpetual tiresome fundraising. It would change the health & economic outlook for a huge percentage of people currently suffering and in turn benefit our society as a whole.