From 0 to 35 in MS

I have worked with markets and farmers in Mississippi for a dozen years and have found more barriers to getting regional food accepted than in most other areas of the US, yet also have met some of the most optimistic and capable people  working on it there.
What’s interesting is that in going from a deeply (still) entrenched commodity/plantation culture of farming directly to a new economy of small family farming for markets and restaurants can mean that some of the middle steps can be skipped, which is beneficial to innovative growers.

In other words, the situations is similar to what has happened in many non-industrialized or colonized countries in regards to technology; having skipped the landline era, the new users adapt much more quickly to the technology of mobility*.
I can see this leapfrogging in play for sustainable farming in the Gulf States with new farmers pushing the envelope with pesticide-free and heirloom varieties at markets and in CSAs, rather than  being influenced by the less inspiring midcentury distribution system that hardened growers’ experience into growing the hardiest and tasteless products to ship.
The area around Oxford MS is one that is ready for takeoff. The small farmer markets offer organic products at a higher rate than the New Orleans farmers markets for example, and the average age of the vendors seems markedly less than the US average, to my unscientific eye. The chef quoted in the article below is a pal of mine and had been the Board President of the New Orleans-based Market Umbrella before Katrina, and now is a leader in the regional food movement in Oxford. He offers his knowledge to the markets and farmers around the area as well supporting the leading agricultural advocates, Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network (MSAN), which was founded with Wallace Center support a few years back. Corbin and MSAN are good example of the quiet revolution happening up there.

Additionally, the folks in Hernando MS (north of Oxford, closer to Memphis TN) are leading the state in innovative healthy living strategies and thinking deeply about how to expand regional farming to support those strategies. Their weekly market is large enough to attract serious attention from regional funders and even policy makers, and I have hopes that they might soon attempt to create a year round market.

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2015 Growing Food and Justice for All Chicago 9/25-9/27

Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative

Friday, September 25, 2015 at 1:00 PM – Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 4:00 PM (CDT)

Chicago, IL

The Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative is excited to announce that registration is now open for the 2015 Gathering:
They have a limited number of scholarships available this year that are available on a first come first serve basis. Please see the eventbrite page for more details.
See you in Chicago!

Michel Nischan

Great interview with Michel Nischan, founder of Wholesome Wave and long time Farm To Table chef. He tells Louisiana Eats host Poppy Tooker about how and why he created his public role.
http://wwno.org/post/tradition-begs-evolution-changing-federal-policy-reviving-local-customs” title=”Interview withMichel Nischan by Poppy Tooker”

Economic Opportunity Is Lowest In the Republican Bible Belt, Major Study Finds | Alternet

I suspected as much, based on the struggle that our community food systems here still have in front of them to reach any decent economic plateau. And, of course, this is another easy way to track where large swaths of institutional racism are still at work.

Economic Opportunity Is Lowest In the Republican Bible Belt, Major Study Finds | Alternet.