If we want to change our diets, maybe we need to think about why the food we buy at the store has so much sugar and so few vegetables. The committee recommended we eat more meals at home, but while that will get us more fruit and less sodium, it’s not going to increase our vegetable intake unless we change our habits.
Early bird registration for the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group is still open for a little bit longer (2 more days) through December 21st. Register online, or download a registration form and get it postmarked no later than Dec 21st for the lowest conference rates. They accept, via mail, checks made payable to Southern SAWG. They accept, via mail and online, VISA, Master Card, American Express and Discover credit cards. Pre-registration continues through midnight on January 7th. After that, registration will be on location in Mobile.
I will be leading two workshops and also moderating an open discussion (information exchange) this year. Find me here:
Friday, 10:45 a.m. – Noon
Using EBT, “Double Coupon” and Other Programs at Farmers Markets – Does your market employ the EBT, FMNP, Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program (FINIP) or WIC programs? Do you have a double coupon incentive program for SNAP, WIC or SFNMP? Discuss technology issues and share best practices for implementing these programs at markets.
Saturday, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Why Farmers Markets? Learn to Communicate Their Value to Your Community – Making the case for farmers markets to farmers, shoppers and community leaders is crucial for continued community support, yet most markets struggle with this task. Learn how to capture and communicate meaningful measures of your market’s success. Using exercises and worksheets from the Farmers Market Metrics project, this session will give you practical examples of simple and effective data collection techniques that you can use for your market. Darlene Wolnik, Helping Public Markets Grow (LA) and Sarah Blacklin, NC Choices (NC).
Saturday 3:30-5:00 pm
Farmers Markets as Business Incubators: How Market Managers Can Help Improve Their Vendors’ Businesses – Increasingly competitive market outlets for local food means that the top farmers often jump from market to market. This session will offer practical strategies for market managers and board members on identifying and understanding their anchor vendors and their needs, as well as addressing the challenges of retaining new vendors. Darlene Wolnik, Helping Public Markets Grow (LA) and Sarah Blacklin, NC Choices (NC).
A well-designed database that every market and food system needs to bookmark and credit in their research.
General Search – Policy Database | Growing Food Connections.
As some may know, I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio and follow the food systems and community organizing work there with great interest. I grew up in one of the inner ring west side suburbs, often visiting the West Side Market and various small butchers and bakeries but the only “farms” I saw were the historical sites around Akron or when spotting an Amish farmer as we headed south on vacation at 65 mph. Farming was clearly the past for most modern Buckeyes, and we thought huge factories and transportation hubs were our only possible future. Or so it seemed for most of my early life since, like many Cleveland children, any trip through the Flats would include open car windows allowing in the soot and smoke of the factories and a proclamation: “smell that, kids? That smell is JOBS.”
However, the decline of manufacturing along Lake Erie in my lifetime has sent its great cities in search of other answers, and I am very proud of Cleveland’s new dedication to sustainable infrastructure and value-based employment for its citizens. A powerful example is the city’s Sustainability 2019 plan that was born from one of our most shameful moments-the fire on the Cuyahoga River in 1969, caused by the chemicals and pollution we allowed to be dumped into it.
Since the global media descends on Cleveland every decade or so to revisit that fire, it is likely they will come at the half century anniversary with renewed gusto. In preparation, the Sustainability 2019 initiative was born to reply with evidence of Cleveland as “one of the greenest cities in North America” as the city’s Director of Sustainability put it at one of their conferences. Because of that focus, I believe that Cleveland is moving faster to a hybrid model of creating post-industrial sectors that can thrive with the vestiges of whatever manufacturing that it claims (wind power anyone?).
I found this out on one of my trips home when noticing that the food system there had a slightly different hue than many others that I regularly visit. Often, when I dig to find the beginnings of citywide or regional food work, I find that it stems primarily from the cultural sector as seen in my other home town of New Orleans, or from a deep need for a new entrepreneurial answer, a la Detroit, or from a public health crisis of lack of healthy food access as in the Bed-Stuy area of NYC, or all of those needs at once, such as many First Nations and too many others. It seemed to me that Cleveland’s food work came from the deep awareness of the destruction heaped upon it from that industrial framework that had now mostly fled to warmer and less regulated places. That strong environmental underpinning was also present because of the first-rate organizing done by many 1960s-present activists including the Ohio Public Interest Campaign, where I was trained as a community organizer and worked for almost a decade.
Maybe because of that industrial vacuum, the need for jobs there seems tempered by the caution for real answers that allow workers stability and skills and not just a paycheck handed to them by a new corporate overlord. The cooperative movement afoot there seems to rise from this and from the professionally run, long-standing community development organizations embedded deep in the neighborhoods, east and west. And of course, credit must also be given to other areas in the region that started cooperative development such as Athens Ohio.
So, because of the hard work done by generations before, the development of the food work seems relatively balanced and quite ambitious. It seems to still lack regional cohesion but it is not ignoring that need either. I found a deeper awareness of the inequities and the need to work with existing both the corporate and informal sectors than in many other places that I visit and work. There is much to do there and mistakes will be made on the road to this new face for my old city, as I mentioned in a piece for Belt Magazine. Still, I am proud of the work being done there and hope you find time to read their new Roadmap and to visit too.
The City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Ohio State University Extension, Cuyahoga County,and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition have developed a sustainable food cluster roadmap in Cuyahoga County, with a core objective to increase regional jobs, revenue and sustainability by supporting local food and beverage businesses.
Hmmm, sounds like a few things that markets could measure and share with their community:
“Another path to well-being is thrift, which means conserving resources as well as money, Tatzel noted. Frugal people are happier with life in general, according to a 2014 study. That may be because avoiding the negative consequences of spending too much and going into debt is one way to avoid unhappiness, she said.
People enjoy doing things more than having things, with other studies finding that people realize more lasting happiness by changing their activities than by changing their material circumstances. “Experiences live on in memory, are incomparable, often shared with others and don’t have to be resource intensive,” said Tatzel.
She described other research that has found that people are more likely to be happy by cultivating personal talents and relationships more than money and fame, and by having an independent sense of self that results in not caring much what others think of their possessions.”
From FoodTank: “On-farm enterprises that focused their business plans on local communities were labeled community-focused agriculture (CFA). This included farms that sell their produce directly to consumers and generate farm income through agritourism. According to the report, only 6.2 percent of all farms deal in direct sales, and around one percent report income from agritourism (all study figures are based on USDA statistics from 2007, the most recent year available).
Studying CFA influence on a national and county-by-county level, researchers found some surprising results. In New England and Mideast counties, regions with well-developed urban centers in proximity to CFA, direct sales increases were associated with increases in total farm sales, as well as personal income growth. Agritourism, on the other hand, was found to have a negative effect on total farm sales.
In the Southeast, increases in direct sales were associated with overall reductions in total farm sales. However, the reverse was true for the effect of agritourism on total farm sales, which was found to be positive in this region and in the Great Lakes.”
“Linkages Between Community-Focused Agriculture, Farm Sales, and Regional Growth”
Economic Development Quarterly 0891242413506610, first published on October 18, 2013
I found as good description as any of governance in the column linked below:
“.. “managing, steering and guiding of public affairs by governing procedures and institutions in a democratic manner’…
And it shows partly why, within markets, the tension between the entrepreneurial activity and the public good role of markets is exactly why collaborative processes are necessary (italics added):
“These include the diverse goals, priorities, and values of the members of the chain, networks across sectors and scales, power relationships among many different players in the chains, and other factors. There also must be flexibility in order to negotiate accommodations to different priorities. In order to enhance their viability, new and established food supply chains need to think about utilizing open governance processes as they start up and scale up.
These are also called reflexive processes, in which people engage to discuss tensions regarding group objectives, recognize contradictions, and deal with differences in a respectful way (see DuPuis &Goodman, 2005; Hassanein…”