Bob Dylan and Contract Theory

As excited as many are about an American folk/rock singer composer winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, the economic prize is also worthy of mention here. First though, my favorite song lyrics of Mr. Dylan:

I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
No, I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
Well, I wake in the morning
Fold my hands and pray for rain
I got a head full of ideas
That are drivin’ me insane
It’s a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor
I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more

I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s brother no more
No, I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s brother no more
Well, he hands you a nickel
He hands you a dime
He asks you with a grin
If you’re havin’ a good time
Then he fines you every time you slam the door
I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s brother no more

I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s pa no more
No, I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s pa no more
Well, he puts his cigar
Out in your face just for kicks
His bedroom window
It is made out of bricks
The National Guard stands around his door
Ah, I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s pa no more

I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s ma no more
No, I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s ma no more
Well, she talks to all the servants
About man and God and law
Everybody says
She’s the brains behind Pa
She’s sixty eight, but she says she’s fifty four
I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s ma no more

Many of Dylan’s interpreters suggest this is a criticism of capitalism or of the military industrial complex. That actually leads us to a chat about the economic prize this year, given to Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström for their contributions to contract theory. (Disclaimer: not only am I not an economist or a lawyer, my understanding of these theories is very casual and centered on my community organizing work. I may over or understate many of these theories and will always edit when better information comes my way. Feel free to add to my knowledge via email as needed.)

Contract theory focuses on the relationship between the parties in a contract, especially those which are asymmetrical in terms of how much information each side has access. The world contains scads of examples of information asymmetry: citizens and media, citizens and police or the military, employees-employers, consumers and technology providers etc. When one party has access to more information than the other, the fairness of the contract should be questioned. The other contract issue relevant to markets and farmers is what are called incomplete contracts. This covers the likelihood that a contract in present time cannot always cover every possible outcome and so often must be renegotiated at some time; in th, t case it is possible that renegotiation can go off the rails because of lack of trust.

In many ways, these scenarios describe much of what drove farmers and their advocates to the creation of the alternative food and farming movement.  The desire for fairness and trust for both producers and for eaters led to transparency being one our chief indicators of success and in keeping the heart of our movement in direct marketing channels which offer simple ways to create fairness. But even within those models, there can be an information asymmetry. For example, some farmers markets have created systems where information only flows from vendor to market and not the other way around. In others, vendors cling to systems that ask little of them as far as information sharing with the market. One way to gauge whether this is an unequal contract is at the time that the agreement is being changed.

Still, the very nature of the mutual dependency and face to face nature of farmers markets and their vendors can usually correct these small imbalances. Same goes for other type of direct marketing contracts, especially CSAs which began as simple contractual relationships between producers and eaters for a single season and a single farm. More recently, some CSA relationships have become imbalanced: like when a farmer offers a member a credit for a bad season, even though the contract in a CSA explicitly states that the shopper loses their investment if the crop fails. Or, when a CSA farmer begins to morph into an aggregator of goods from nearby farms and cottage industry producers without creating a updated contract with their shoppers that outlines the new rules of bringing those goods to the shopper.

However, the concern over unfair contracts really “scales up”  when systems move into intermediate (back door or bin sales) and wholesale (middle-man or pallet sales) contracts. Here, I’ll focus on intermediate sales, as wholesale sales are a whole other kettle of fish and in most cases, are beyond the capacity or interest of small family farms. (The reason for that is that few of those systems have really changed anything about their purchasing policies or their regulations for small farms, and so the costs and risk are all on the side of the farmer still.)

The hope is still that restaurant owners and wholesale buyers will build contracts with producers with the same transparency and information sharing as those in the direct marketing sector, but often that has not been the case. The key to mutually beneficial agreements on all levels of our food work relies on building contextual contracts and incentivizing them for all  involved. What are the main benefits for a producer to sell at a  lower cost to a chef? Well, two might be consecutive, consistent sales and the ease in delivery (meaning the farmer can deliver when most convenient to him or her and get quick payment), and yet rarely are these benefits described in agreements for most of our producers when they sell at these levels. What is the main benefit for the buyer? Often it is the quality of the product or the name recognition of the producer attached to the goods and yet rarely are those benefits understood and outlined in these agreements.

One way to incentivize the fairness of the contract in these situation may be to create a shared asset owned by all of the parties, such as a mutually owned cold truck or even branding. Another way to make them contextual might be to have an external party monitoring the agreement. Maybe this is where farmers market leaders can grow their influence?

And of course, markets managing transactions through card technology has led  to lopsided contracts with processors. Markets scramble to understand these complex agreements which exist over different eras of management and open markets  to many new layers of liability.  Another issue is that the energy that markets must reserve for reaching and encouraging benefit program shoppers is often wasted by the lack of good information about the client lists from local or federal government authorities. Too many markets I talk to have no idea how and where to reach these shoppers in their area and when you take in the short time that the majority of these shoppers remain on these programs at any one time (also not shared by most government entities), successful outreach becomes even more unlikely. The market vendor in this situation is also underrepresented in a fair contract, as most markets – or the processors working directly with farmers – use boilerplate agreements about card processing with their vendors.

So, one can see from just these few examples that center around direct marketing and intermediate farmers how many contract issues arise. So maybe before the alternative food system becomes another one of Maggie’s farms, let’s spend some time on increasing transparency and incentives for everyone’s benefit.

Wrapping up 2015 with Food First

The third of 3 organizations that I am highlighting today. Of the three, this is the international organization, and one that has created some very thoughtful and provocative positions for food organizers. The democratization of all supporting systems is vital to winning food sovereignty and Food First has done admirable work on that level for 40 years.
The sophistication of their work on environmental issues, social justice, monetary policy, labor policies and much more allows all little markets and gardens to be a integral part of a huge movement. As someone who has seen many movements splinter or become proprietary before they matured enough to have wide impact, I am thankful to those who remember and work so that this rising tide carries all boats.
And way too often, those of us building those fulcrums of local food systems-farmers markets- focus only on doing and spend too little reflecting or analyzing on what has worked and what hasn’t. Lucky for us, Food First is on top of that too.
Through Food First, I have learned about dozens of inspiring campaigns across the globe and had access to some of our most influential thinkers. Spending a little time at the vision level and checking out what is happening at the global level is what makes working locally entirely satisfying. I hope that you find Food First as useful as I have.

Source: World Hunger: Ten Myths : Food First

Slow Food Int’l Food Sovereignty Tour with Eddie Mukiibi

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Where & When

will visit five American cities where disparities in power and wealth trigger an inspired use of food to grow leadership, self-reliance and cooperation. Stops on the tour include universities, schools and school gardens, and urban farms.

November 5-18, 2015: New York City, Detroit, New Orleans, Petal, and Sacramento. Learn more about the public events listed below on theNational Slow Food Calendar:

  • November 5-7 in New York City
    • Thursday, November 5: Kelso Beer Tap Takeover at the Berg’n Beer Hall (6-8pm)
    • Friday, November 6: A global discussion at NYU followed by light refreshments and Ferrari sparkling wines (5-7pm)
  • November 7-10 in Detroit, MI
    • Sunday, November 8: A discussion at the Spirit of Hope Church about youth and food with Detroit youth activist Kadiri Sennefer followed by soup and bread (6-8pm)
  • November 11-14 in New Orleans, LA
    • Wednesday, November 11: Slow Food New Orleans Happy Hour at Café Carmo (6-8pm) featuring under-utilized seafood species
    • Saturday, November 14: Ring the opening bell at the Crescent City Farmers Market (8am-12pm)
  • November 13 in Petal (Hattiesburg), MS: Invitation-only event
  • November 15-18 in Sacramento, CA
    • Monday, November 16: A Slow Food Fall Mixer to draw solidarity between African and American garden projects (6-8pm)
      More information here

Expo Milano 2015

US food rocks the Expo
Visitors enter the 42,000-square-foot barn-like structure on a wide ramp built from the reclaimed Coney Island boardwalk, which was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. One side of the building is a living vertical farm the length of a football field which is harvested daily. Inside, a self-guided tour of interactive kiosks features videos of farmers, chef activists, research scientists and policy makers all speaking to the Expo’s theme of how it’s going to be possible to safely feed a population of 9 billion in the year 2050.

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Milan Southern Agricultural Park

During the Milan Expo 2015 the attention will be mainly focused on the Milan Southern Agricultural Park (Parco Agricolo Sud Milano), the “park of Expo 2015”, featuring 47 thousand hectares and representing one of the biggest areas aimed at feeding itself and the planet. An amazing space that coverss almost fifty per cent of the provincial area around Milan where historical farms, agricultural productions, natural, cultural and environmental resources are gathered and they might become the Biosphere’s Reserve. That means being awarded with the International praise from UNESCO for the keeping and protection of the environment within the program “Man and Biosphere”.

USA rocks Expo Milano 2015.

Keeping Agricultural Land Prices Affordable for Farmers in the UK

“The idea goes back to 2005, when members of various groups involved in ecological land management and cooperative development got to talking. Inspired by a vision for what would become the Ecological Land Cooperative (ELC), they sketched out a plan to buy degraded agricultural land and lease it to people with the desire and skill—but not enough cash—to start small-scale farms with regenerative practices (think permaculture and agro-forestry).”

Keeping Agricultural Land Prices Affordable for Farmers – Economy – Utne Reader.

The MOON magazine | The Future of Food

This month we gather around the topic of food—a subject everyone loves. Food is the great convenor, the global common denominator, the alchemical substance that pulls parties into the kitchen, makes friends out of strangers, puts flesh on our bones and smiles on our faces.

But all is not well in food land, despite the colorful array of products on U.S. grocery store shelves. One third of Americans are overweight; diet-related diseases are skyrocketing; our food is being designed to addict, rather than nourish; bees are dying; biodiversity is being lost; and modern agriculture is based on massive inputs of petroleum—a finite resource.

The MOON magazine | The Future of Food.

40 organizations

Food TankFood Tank, one of my favorite new think tanks, is highlighting organizations worldwide doing good work. It’s a good list, although a bit of a surprise what is here and what is not…

http://foodtank.org/news/2013/05/forty-organizations-that-are-shaking-up-the-food-system

International Day of Peasant’s Struggle, April 17

The peasant movement, La Via Campesina is a bright light in the darkness that is spreading with global corporations controlling more and more of the natural resources across the world. This loose confederation of actions and organizations has its feet solidly in the food sovereignty movement, which I think U.S. activists should identify as our chief food system goal, rather than food security. Food security (availability of good food for all) is important, but more important is when it happens where the local community decides how, when and where to feed itself which is what food sovereignty encompasses.

“The international peasants’ movement La Via Campesina has been defending and expanding the practice and policies of food sovereignty around the world for 20 years. To launch another 20 years of struggle, we are calling for a massive mobilisation day on 17 April, the International Day of Peasants’ Struggles, to reclaim our food system which is being increasingly occupied by transnational capital. We invite everyone to organise activities, protests, art exhibitions, direct actions, discussions, film screenings, farmers markets etc., in your village, school, office, neighbourhood, organisation, community…”

Wherever you are, join this collective celebration on 17 April!

At the World Food Summit in 1996, La Via Campesina (LVC) launched a concept that both challenged the corporate dominated, market driven model of globalised food production and distribution, as well as offering a new paradigm to fight hunger and poverty by developing and strengthening local economies. Since then, food sovereignty has captured the imagination of people the world over – including many governments and multilateral institutions – and has become a global rallying cry for those committed to social, environmental, economic and political justice. Food sovereignty is different from food security in both approach and politics. Food security does not distinguish where food comes from, or the conditions under which it is produced and distributed. National food security targets are often met by sourcing food produced under environmentally destructive and exploitative conditions, and supported by subsidies and policies that destroy local food producers but benefit agribusiness corporations. Food sovereignty emphasizes ecologically appropriate production, distribution and consumption, social-economic justice and local food systems as ways to tackle hunger and poverty and guarantee sustainable food security for all peoples. It advocates trade and investment that serve the collective aspirations of society. It promotes community control of productive resources; agrarian reform and tenure security for small-scale producers; agro-ecology; biodiversity; local knowledge; the rights of peasants, women, indigenous peoples and workers; social protection and climate justice.

Markets in Bogotá

As farmers market organizers, we get busy with our logistical work and our market aches and pains that come from growing too fast. As important as it is to remember what we have in front of us in the U.S., it is as important for us to remember what the rest of the world struggles with and how they see farmers markets as a solution too.
This piece from the Nyéléni newsletter (the Food Sovereignty newsletter for the international movement) tells an inspiring story about market organizers in Columbia that should be read by all North American organizers too.

www.nyeleni.org/DOWNLOADS/newsletters/Nyeleni_Newsletter_Num_13_EN.pdf.

21 and up

Below, we showcase just 21 of the many recent policies and laws enacted by governments worldwide that are helping change the food system, promote sustainable agriculture, and eradicate hunger.

All the best,

Danielle Nierenberg
Nourishing the Planet Project Director
Worldwatch Institute
http://www.nourishingtheplanet.org

P.S. Remember to connect with Nourishing the Planet on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Flickr, where you will find infographics, quotes, original video, articles, and news that can’t be found anywhere else.

1. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act was passed in 2010 with a focus on improving the nutrition of children across the United States. Authorizing funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs, this legislation allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to make real reforms to school lunch and breakfast programs and promote healthy eating habits among the nation’s youth. Read more about the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act and 15 innovations making school meals healthier and more sustainable on the Nourishing the Planet blog.

2. The Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) was founded in 2011 to help improve the provision of services to farmers in the country. It focuses on adapting its policies to local needs, developing sustainable production systems, and providing farmers and consumers with education, techniques, and services to help supply Rwandans with better foods. The RAB has received praise for its efforts from organizations like the Executive Board of the Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa.

3. Beginning in 2008, the Australian government committed $12.8 million for 190 primary schools across Australia to participate in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program. Hoping to encourage healthy and nutritious eating habits in young Australians, the program works with primary schools to teach students how to grow, harvest, prepare, and share fresh food.

4. In 2007, the Love Food, Hate Waste campaign was launched in the U.K. by the government-funded Waste and Resources Action Programme. The organization helps reduce food waste by providing tips and encouragement to households across the U.K. and prevented 137,000 tons of food waste by 2009 alone. Find out five simple things you can do prevent food waste on our blog.

5. Argentina made legislative efforts in 2011 to limit foreign land ownership and protect domestic farmers. This regulation, which restricts foreign investors to a 1,000 hectare limit, prevents the establishment of massive, foreign-owned industrial farms and helps to create a domestic community of land owners and farmers with Argentine needs and interests, rather than profits, in mind.

6. The Liberian Ministry of Agriculture and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization are working together to support rural Liberian poultry farmers—most of whom are women. The project includes training and materials for rural farmers about raising and producing poultry, as well as for harvesting cow peas as a sustainable source of poultry feed. These policies have helped rural farmers earn higher incomes and increase their access to protein-rich foods.

7. In recent years, European countries including Italy, Germany, Slovenia, and France have all passed regulations banning pesticides known as neonicotinoids, which have been linked to declining bee populations. Bees pollinate a variety of crops and their decline could have disastrous impacts on food security. Learn more about how neonicotinoids are contributing to declining bee populations on our blog.

8. In 2011, the city of San Francisco passed the Urban Agriculture Ordinance, amending the zoning code to allow food production for personal and public use, provide guidelines and requirements for urban farms, and regulate sales of harvested products and value-added goods. This law has helped San Francisco become a national example of urban agriculture and a promoter of healthy, sustainable diets and communities.

9. Beginning in 2011, the state government of Bihar in India made a major initiative to subsidize farmers practicing organic vegetable farming and to curtail rampant use of agrochemicals on vegetable farms. By providing a subsidy of up to 75 percent to farmers, the Bihar government hopes that organic farmers will be able to get higher prices for their products as well as provide consumers with healthier, local foods.

10. As of August 2012, the USDA awarded $85,000 to the state of Minnesota to expand the number of farmers markets that accept food stamps. With this funding, they hope that low-income consumers, who usually lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables, will have better access to fresh produce and more nutritious diets.

11. The Carbon Farming Initiative, passed by the Australian government in 2011, awards carbon credit to farmers who store carbon or reduce greenhouse gas emissions on their plots. This credit can then be sold to people and businesses wishing to offset their emissions, which rewards farmers who utilize techniques that minimize or absorb greenhouse gas emissions.

12. U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White ruled in 2010 that 256 acres of genetically modified (GM) sugar beets be pulled from the ground and barred them from being grown in Arizona and Oregon. Agreeing with advocates opposed to GM crops, Judge White ruled that the USDA did not properly review the ecological impacts of GM sugar beets before deregulating them in 2005. With the concern that GM beets would contaminate organic varieties, this case was a success in the protection of organic vegetables against GM varieties. Find out more about court rulings concerning GM vegetables on our blog.

13. The Safe Food for Canadians Act was passed in June 2012, consolidating the powers of several previous food safety acts, including the Canada Agricultural Products Act and Meat Inspection Act, into one comprehensive piece of legislation. With the combined authority of these acts, the Safe Food for Canadians Act will implement tougher penalties for putting consumer health and safety at risk, strengthen food traceability, and institute a more consistent inspection regime for all foods in Canada.

14. A law was recently passed by the European Union concerning food information for consumers. The regulation, approved in 2011, amends previous legislation by enforcing nutrition labels on processed foods, origin labeling of fresh meat, highlighting allergens in the list of ingredients, and other protective measures. Through this law, European consumers will be given better information about the food products they consume, allowing them to make safer and healthier choices.

15. In 2011, the Oregon Legislature passed the Farm to School and School Garden Bill, appropriating funds for a competitive grants program in two school districts. These programs will help to stabilize markets for local food growers, increase the availability of healthy products, and teach students about where their food comes from. Check out another great initiative which is feeding and educating our youth on our blog.

16. New York City became the first American city toban the sale of sugared drinks larger than 16 ouncesin 2012. Affecting restaurants, sports arenas, movie theaters, and convenience stores throughout the city, the ban is an attempt to mitigate rising obesitylevels. Because sugary drinks are unhealthy, the ban aims toprevent New Yorkers from consuming an excess of calories and sugar.

17. Bolivian President Evo Morales signed a law in mid-2011 that set up funding for state-run seed and fertilizer production. Looking to end Bolivian dependence on foreign seeds and to protect biodiversity as well as native foodstuffs, the government plans to invest $5 billion by 2021, with generous credits to small farmers in efforts to ensure food security for Bolivians.

18. The government of Ghana is making major strides in regard to food security and sustainable incomes for its citizens. The Savannah Accelerated Development Authority, for example, created under the late John Atta Mills, has fostered sustainable agricultural methods in Ghana’s impoverished north. Under the administration of President John Agyekum Kufuor, Ghana prioritized national agricultural policies and cut hunger from 34 percent in 1990 to 9 percent in 2004, an achievement which earned President Kufuor the World Food Prize in 2011.

19. Starting in 2011, Denmark became the first nation in the world to levy a tax which directly targets saturated fat in foods. At an extra US$2.85 per kilogram of food with more than 2.3 percent saturated fat, the tax is designed to curb the consumption of saturated fat, which is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity. Read more about Denmark’s fat tax on our blog.

20. From 2007 to 2011, 26 African nations, including Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, and the Republic of Congo, signed the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Compact. The aims of the Programme are to boost African productivity in the agricultural sector and provide African nations with greater food security. As part of these goals, the Programme plans to make the continent a net exporter of agricultural products, distribute wealth equitably to rural populations, and employ environmentally sound production strategies to promote a culture of sustainable management of natural resources across Africa.

21. The USDA passed the Access to Pasture Rule in 2010, which contains clear and enforceable regulations concerning access to pasture for organic livestock. Mandating that livestock must be able to actively graze on a daily basis, the Access to Pasture Rule not only ensures that livestock operations are healthy and more sustainable, but holds organic livestock production to pasture-based rather than factory farming-based production standards.

Sail alone, anchor together

A few years ago, I was watching a Charlie Rose interview with the musician, Tori Amos. She was going on tour with Alanis Morrisette and Charlie asked her how that worked, how could they combine their shows. Tori frowned in concentration and said (I’m sort of paraphrasing here):
it’s not really about merging them. Really, I’m… a pirate ship. I have a captain, I have my own mates, my own wenches…..and so does she…
That comment stuck in my mind. When I went to work the next day, I shared it Richard McCarthy,  who was then the Executive Director of Market Umbrella. We were constantly searching for metaphors for farmers market organizing to describe the way it was bending  (or could be) to becoming a true movement rather than a series of random events in towns and cities. We had collected some cool descriptions, still wondered if we had yet found the best way to describe it.
“A pirate ship. Hmmm,” he said. True to his nature as a leader who employs engaging and system-level thinking, he kept at it, coming up with a powerpoint on the pirate ship idea that he continues to refine and use in his global work with civic and food organizers.

When I’m out in the field, I find that much of what we do in markets and in food systems is duplication of the worst sort, meaning unnecessary and a time waster for overworked markets or networks, or just as bad is the an expectation that all markets or projects should operate and be measured the exact same way. Why is that, I often wondered? Why don’t markets or organizers talk more to each other, sharing more tools peer-to-peer and find the strength to resist being measured and judged by inappropriate metrics?

Well, I do know why it happens. It happens because the work of community organizing is so important to do correctly and yet so unrelenting that it is hard to find time to share. And then what should be shared and how it could be shared is often as complicated.
The Tori Amos interview spoke to that idea.

The idea that innovation and creativity is handmade and often an individual exercise, or coming from a small committed group who are learning as they go.

And that sharing is not necessarily about combining efforts, but more often about connecting when needed and not overemphasizing one set of values over another.

That individuals or small groups need some autonomy and yet, in order to build a movement there are times when building the networks is as important.

So from that Amos interview came this line that Richard and I created while standing outside of a coffeehouse:
Sail Alone, Anchor Together
Like pirate ships or if you prefer, privateer ships, markets have their own flag, their own code and their own mates. Sooner or later though, they may need to join up in order to defend themselves from other forces or come together to succeed on an issue.
How they do that is important. When they do that is important too.

The lack of a national or even a regional convening primarily for farmers markets  may be starting to hamper our efforts for long term policy changes and impair capacity building. In lieu of that, we can (and should) moor our nimble little ships to sides of elegant liner like a re-imagined public markets conference or join a strong armada such as a well-organized school food initiative when we can, but even then, when we don’t know what to share and when, it’s hard to contribute meaningfully.

We also have our own issues to talk about. What about SNAP/EBT? Disaster planning for market farmers? Training for market managers? Food safety issues? Permanent locations? Sustainable funding? Building appropriate networks for policy work? Evaluation? We need to work this stuff out together and decide how it’s appropriate to our scale.

Some market networks are lucky. They have solid food systems that they work in and grow in sustainably. But even the best need to anchor with the odd little markets and share and hear because innovation within a field often comes from unlikely sources.

And sometimes it’s as hard to get the larger, more established markets to take the time and find the right voice in which to share their ideas and plans, to do that even as they are piloting ever more complex projects.

Respect to each pirate ship must be paid by the others. Learn to spot the flags and to find ways to anchor together.

Here at the PPS conference, unexpected relationships can start too

Just like a market, conferences bring people together and from that moment good things can begin. Things like flagship markets meeting up and sharing ideas:

(below) Leslie from the Athens OH market community chats with Chris of the Burlington VT Farmers Market. Both of these markets have existed for decades, are over 80 vendors and are year round. Their markets definitely have plans and issues that the other can truly understand!

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or things like people from the same city meeting and openly sharing ideas across projects:
Toronto Food Policy Chair Helene St. Jacques and Greenbelt Farmers Market organizer Anne Freeman make friends with St. Lawrence Market vendors Odysseas and Sandra Gounalakis of Scheffler’s Deli and Cheese while they are all far from home and waiting on a “rapid” to the evening PPS conference event. Odysseas and Sandra paid their own way to the conference to learn about public markets so that they can be of assistance to the managers.

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Meeting the larger market community can lead to unexpected lessons, ideas and friendships. Take the time to take a “busman’s holiday”!

Still time to join the PPS conference…

About every two years, Projects for Public Spaces hosts a dynamic public market conference that draws a wide selection of market organizers, researchers and municipal officials. This time, this it’s being hosted by my other home town of Cleveland, Ohio. The city worked hard to get the conference to showcase their 100-year-old market West Side Market AND its vibrant alternative food system. If you haven’t been to what USED to be called “the mistake on the lake” ever or recently, you would be amazed at some of the changes around town. Those of us who have done community organizing there shouldn’t be: the long tradition of neighborhood and issue organizing on issues like housing, utility reform and brownfields has been expanded to excellent food campaigns.
I can’t wait to see my colleagues, to hear about what they are up to and to see more of the Northeast Ohio food and farming system. If you haven’t checked out PPS’ website and excellent work to support public space and markets role in them, please take the time.

PPS