The Crunchy Cities Index – Support Farmers Markets

This is an exciting piece on the explosion of farmers markets, but I must confess that based on my own knowledge, I find the data to be less than precise. The USDA list of markets is not checked for accuracy and as it is up to market organizers to list and to de-list their own markets, most estimations believe that the list is far from accurate, even though the USDA does everything within its (limited) time to make it right. Even the definition of what can be listed as a market is loose; this may seem like nitpicking (after all more “markets” is good news isn’t it?) but since we know how the capacity of markets remains low partly because of low support among funders and policy makers, the lack of clarity may hurt chances to expand well-managed farmers markets or public markets that support local entrepreneurs.
What is also true is that many retail operations masquerade as farmers markets without directly supporting farmers or managing those involved in direct sales; regular operation, transparent governance and some direct sales for regional producers should at least be the minimum to being listed on this list. Don’t get me wrong; I like the idea of auxiliary and ancillary food initiatives that get regional food into more communities being listed somewhere and to be tied to efforts at flagship or sister market organizations, but we should get better at describing each of them with their own type so we can allow more to flourish.

The Crunchy Cities Index – Buy Local by I Support Farmers Markets.

Advertisement

Resentful? Overworked? Face These Painful Facts about Shared Work. « The Happiness Project

Seven hard facts about shared work
I excerpted this because of the many times that I hear market or food system organizers tell me they don’t have time to teach volunteers or to share work – that should be a red flag to anyone who wants to build their market or project past a lifespan of a few years. When a market is managed and governed entirely by one person and has not figured out how to welcome others into decision-making – or has yet to plan for the future – crisis begins to climb exponentially.

When I hear people complain about the fact that other people aren’t doing their share–about a spouse who isn’t pulling weight at home, or a colleague at work, or a sibling in a family–I want to launch into a disquisition about shared work.
From what I’ve observed, people have a very incorrect understanding about how shared work actually gets divvied up. Take note of these somewhat-painful facts:

Fact 1: Work done by other people sounds easy. How hard can it be to take care of a newborn who sleeps twenty hours a day? How hard can it be to keep track of your billable hours? To travel for one night for business? To get a four-year-old ready for school? To return a few phone calls? To fill out some forms?
Of course, something like “perform open-heart surgery” sounds difficult, but to a very great degree, daily work by other people sounds easy—certainly easier that what we have to do.
This fact leads us to under-estimate how onerous a particular task is, when someone else does it, and that makes it easy to assume that we don’t need to help or provide support. Or even be grateful. For that reason, we don’t feel very obligated to share the burden. After all, how hard is it to change a light-bulb?

Fact 2: When you’re doing a job that benefits other people, it’s easy to assume that they feel conscious of the fact that you’re doing this work—that they should feel grateful, and that they should and do feel guilty about not helping you.
But no! Often, the more reliably you perform a task, the less likely it is for someone to notice that you’re doing it, and to feel grateful, and to feel any impulse to help or to take a turn.
You think, “I’ve been making the first pot of coffee for this office for three months! When is someone going to do it?” In fact, the longer you make that coffee, the less likely it is that someone will do it.
If one person on a tandem bike is pedaling hard, the other person can take it easy. If you’re reliably doing a task, others will relax. They aren’t silently feeling more and more guilty for letting you shoulder the burden; they probably don’t even think about it. And after all, how hard is it to make a pot of coffee? (see Fact #1). Also, they begin to view this as your job (after all, you’ve been doing it reliably for all this time, in fact, you probably enjoy this job!), it’s not their job, so they don’t feel any burden to help.
Being taken for granted is an unpleasant but sincere form of praise. Ironically, the more reliable you are, and the less you complain, the more likely you are to be taken for granted.

Fact 3: It’s hard to avoid “unconscious overclaiming.” In unconscious overclaiming, we unconsciously overestimate our contributions relative to others. This makes sense, because we’re far more aware of what we do than what other people do. Also, we tend to do the work that we value. I think holiday cards are important; my husband thinks that keeping the air-conditioning working is important.
Studies showed that when spouses estimated what percentage of housework each performed, the percentages added up to more than 120 percent. When business-school students estimated how much they’d contributed to a team effort, the total was 139 percent.
It’s easy to think “I’m the only one around here who bothers to…” or “Why do I always have to be the one who…?” but ignore all the tasks you don’t do. And maybe others don’t think that task is as important as you do (See Fact #5).

Fact 4: Taking turns is easier than sharing. I read somewhere that young children have a lot of trouble “sharing” but find it easier to “take turns.” Sharing is pretty ambiguous; taking turns is clearer and serves the value of justice, which is very important to children.
I think this is just as true for adults. I have to admit, shared tasks often give me the urge to try to shirk. Maybe if I pretend not to notice that the dishwasher is ready to be emptied, my husband will do it! And often he does. Which bring us t0…
THE THREE MOST IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT SHARED WORK:

Fact 5: The person who cares the most will often end up doing a task. If you care more about a task being done, you’re more likely to end up doing it–and don’t expect other people to care as much as you do, just because something is important to you. It’s easy to make this mistake in marriage. You think it’s important to get the basement organized, and you expect your spouse to share the work, but your spouse thinks, “We never use the basement anyway, so why bother?” Just because something’s important to you doesn’t make it important to someone else, and people are less likely to share work they deem unimportant. At least not without a lot of nagging.

Fact 6. If you want someone else to do a task, DON’T DO IT YOURSELF. This sounds so obvious, but think about it. Really. Let it go. If you think you shouldn’t have to do it, don’t do it. Wait. Someone else is a lot more likely to do it if you don’t do it first. Note: this means that a task is most likely to be done by the person who cares most (see Fact #5). To repeat this point in other words, if you persist in doing particular work, it becomes more and more unlikely that someone else will do it.
Of course, you can’t always choose not to do something. Someone must get the kids ready for school. But many tasks are optional.

Fact #7: If, when people do step up, you criticize their performance, you discourage them from doing that work in the future. If you want others to help, don’t carp from the sidelines. If you do, they feel justified in thinking, “Well, I can’t do it right anyway” or “Pat wants this to be done a particular way, and I don’t know how to do that, so Pat should do it.” The more important it is to you that tasks be performed your way, the more likely you are to be doing those tasks yourself. (Of course, some people use deliberate incompetence to shirk, which is so deeply annoying.)

And if you’d like to get this writer’s daily blog post by email, sign up here

New reef rebuilt entirely to help save fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico

The Nature Conservancy is working to restore Half Moon Reef, an underwater oyster colony in the heart of Matagorda Bay, which is one of the most productive fisheries for blue crabs, oysters and shrimp in Texas.
The 45-acre Half Moon Reef will be the Conservancy’s first reef constructed from the ground up.

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association 2013 Conference

The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) is a farmer-driven, membership-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that helps people in the Carolinas grow and eat local, organic foods by advocating for fair farm and food policies, building the systems family farms need to thrive, and educating communities about local, organic agriculture.

Our key program areas are:
Education
Advocacy
Food Systems
Farm Services
Founded in 1979, we are the oldest and largest sustainable agriculture organization in the Southeast. For over three decades, we have successfully united farmers, consumers and businesses to build a just, healthy food and farming future.

Program | Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.

CropMobster™ | How It Works –

Here is an interesting link that came to me through the smart people at Food Tank.

An online site to help farmers sell the produce at “come and get it” prices that is not sold through their marketing outlets.

http://www.cropmobster.com/category/deal/

Waste not

40% of our food is wasted; 25% is wasted by the consumer. Great points to share with your community.

 

 

 

 

Tackling_Food_Waste_Crisis

Sustainable America

National 2013 Food Hub Survey-NFGN

Authored by Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems & The Wallace Center at Winrock International
From the Executive Summary:

Findings from the survey showed that food hubs across the country are growing to broaden the distribution infrastructure for local food. From the survey, 62% of food hubs began operations within the last five years, 31% of food hubs had $1,000,000 or more in annual revenue and the majority of food hubs were supporting their businesses with little or no grant assistance—including food hubs that identified as nonprofits. Financially, the most successful food hubs tended to be for-profit and cooperative in structure, in operation for more than 10 years and working with a relatively large number of producers. The values-based nature of food hubs makes it hard to judge many of them solely on their level of financial success.
The survey also revealed a number of persistent challenges and barriers to growth that even the most financially successful food hubs faced.
For example, many food hubs indicated their needs for assistance in managing growth and identifying appropriate staffing levels for their hubs. They also often pointed to their need for capital and other resources to increase their trucking and warehousing capacity.

NFGN Report

Sustainable Ag Trainings in the Deep South

Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network's trainings-2013

Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network’s trainings-2013

Lifecycle of Emergence

For those organizing networks this theory can be very helpful, to have a strategy that allows for both short and long term. Cooperation and communication must happen at the precise moment(s) that networks are ready to emerge and to grow. For organizers, that means practicing patience and fortitude.

From The Berkana Institute:

…the lifecycle of emergence: how living systems begin as networks, shift to intentional communities of practice, and evolve into powerful systems capable of global influence.

This system of influence possesses qualities and capacities that were unknown in the individuals. It isn’t that they were hidden; they simply don’t exist until the system emerges. They are properties of the system, not the individual, but once there, individuals possess them. And the system that emerges always possesses greater power and influence than is possible through planned, incremental change. Emergence is how Life creates radical change and takes things to scale.

Lifecycle of Emergence.

the two loops visual is one that many of you have probably seen me try to draw (badly); here it is done well:

Theory of Change

111 Low-Cost or Free Online Tools for Nonprofits

This is an excellent list of tools of which many would be quite helpful for markets and other non-profit food system organizations.

I especially like
2, 3, 4, 14, 25, 29, 34, 44, 46, 50, 58, 71, 78, 84, 104, 110

111 Low-Cost or Free Online Tools for Nonprofits.

Maryland Food System Map | Center for a Livable Future

This is one of my favorite food system sites . Wouldn’t it be great if each state and every regional projects collected and shared this type of visual data?

A screen shot of the Maryland Food Map circa July 2013.

A screen shot of the Maryland Food System Map circa July 2013.


Note from the organizers:

Map updates include expanded Nutrition Assistance data and updated points of interest for Maryland.
Nutrition Assistance – new and updated data about federal nutrition assistance programs.
SNAP usage by Zip Code
Schools with 50% or more children who are eligible for free and reduced cost meals
Afterschool Meal Program Sites
WIC office locations
NOTE: The following existing data layers have been moved to this category:
SNAP Participation by County
SNAP Retailers
WIC Retailers
Points of Interest – updated points of interest note changes in addresses and expand lists statewide.
Institutional sites in this list – schools and hospitals – will be expanded further this year, as we gather data and statistics about how these institutions are using local food. Here are the layers currently updated:
Hospitals
Public schools
Recreation centers
Senior centers

Maryland Food System Map | Center for a Livable Future.

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.

Link to data collection slideshow

Gave this presentation recently to the University of Virginia Morven Institute’s “Farmers Markets and Applied Food Systems Research” course. Slideshow

Here is more on this exciting summer course that I am thrilled to be associated:

Morven Institute

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.