Louisiana Update #9: A post-flood visit with a market farmer

Spent Wednesday morning tagging along with Copper Alvarez on her BREADA Small Farm Fund site visit to Lucy Capdeboscq’s home and farm near Amite. Copper has been crisscrossing the state seeing farmers who are reporting losses from this month’s floods. It’s important to note that BREADA is not focused only on their market farmers needs, but doing their best to get funds to any market farmer across the state.  Although one of Lucy’s daughters had been one of Red Stick market vendors in the past, Lucy sells only at the Saturday Crescent City Farmers Markets down in New Orleans. As a result, she was surprised when Copper contacted her by phone, asked if she had damage and then offered an evaluation visit in case BREADA’s fund might be able to help.

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Of course, no decisions or promises are made during the visits about any support, but as Lucy commented, the contact and visit were very welcome. Crescent City Farmers Market is also reactivating their Crescent Fund and has already had Lucy fill out their short form to receive assistance. The Crescent Fund is hoping to raise enough money to handle the 8 or so CCFM market farmers who have indicated losses, by quickly offering up to $1,500 for their farm needs.

To get to Lucy’s place, one turns off the main road at the permanent sign indicating it is also the direction to the legendary Liuzza strawberry farm. Although their famous berries are still a few weeks from being planted, other products like cucumbers could be seen in some of their fields. When you know that Lucy is a Liuzza by birth , it is clear why she lives amid those fields, (just off Jack Liuzza Lane) on the land deeded her by her parents. She and her late husband Allen raised their children here and kept their land productive even when they took on other professional occupations.

Allen and Lucy joined the Crescent City Farmers Market shortly after it opened. The Caps (as their farm name is known) were a huge hit immediately due to  Lucy’s charming customer service and Allen’s practical sense for growing their traditional yet innovative items. Lucy’s arrangements of zinnias and lilies with her decorative okra, hibiscus buds and her legendary sunflowers have remained market favorites since those early days.  As Poppy Tooker wrote in the 2009 Crescent City Farmers Market cookbook: “Lucy and Al have built a reputation for forward thinking innovation. They were the first to try early harvested rapini and green garlic made so popular in California.”

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Lucy’s okra, used for her bouquets.

To me, the Caps are a quintessential market vendor type: growing traditional and newer South Louisiana products on a small piece of land behind their home within sight of other family members also still farming. As a matter of fact, on one of my visits to the farm years ago, Lucy told me how much she was looking forward to letting a shopper know that next Saturday that their favorite item had been planted that week and would soon be back at market. That deep awareness of specific customer likes seemed to me then (and still) to be the best illustration of the personal touch of direct marketing farming that I have come across in my site visits.

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Louisiana Update # 8: The natural cost

 

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The flood leaves a watermark stain on the tree’s leaves as U.S. Geological Survey surveyor Scott Hedgecock works to survey the water levels along the Tangipahoa River along Highway 190 just west of Robert, Louisiana. (Photo by Ted Jackson NOLA.com )

Climate change is not entirely accepted, even by those for whom it should be obvious possibly because it is not entirely understood.  People don’t feel its effects as they move in comfort from their air-conditioned personal vehicle to living amid a span of concrete around their glass-enclosed home away from coasts or forests, getting most of their information through a thumbnail headline or from friends who work and live in the very same setting. In other words, industrialized countries.

Another culprit may be the environmental work done in the 1970s and 1980s, which often used unfamiliar phrases that lacked relevancy such as global warming (or even the term used at the beginning of this post, climate change) and focused mostly on national policy changes or in shaming users of resources without compelling evidence of the effect of that reduction. Environmentalists were seen as “do-gooders” who meant well but lacked realistic goals (this was actual feedback from focus groups at an organization I worked at in the 1980s.)

The strong pushback showed the fallacy of engaging ordinary citizens using lofty or scientific terms and  led to many turning to food as an organizing tool. After all, what could be better as an impetus to understanding and sharing the repair of the natural world but food?

Yet in the roll call of environmentalists circa 2016, food system organizers are usually in the middle of the pack. Most can certainly outline the issues involved with food production that both imperil and reboot Mother Nature, but are rarely working directly on those issues in concert with environmental organizations. Farmers markets have done an admirable job on promoting entrepreneurial activity and improving access, but efforts to highlight the stewardship of the natural world by market farmers has fallen a little behind.

I hear our great writer Wendell Berry exhorting us to remember the farmers:

“Good farmers, who take seriously their duties as stewards of Creation and of their land’s inheritors, contribute to the welfare of society in more ways than society usually acknowledges, or even knows. These farmers produce valuable goods, of course; but they also conserve soil, they conserve water, they conserve wildlife, they conserve open space, they conserve scenery.”

The  “eyes to acres” ratio suggested by Berry and Wes Jackson needs to be included in regional planning theory and in the metrics that assess our work. Within the framework of disaster, the acknowledgment of the need for that ratio could mean”deputizing” farmers to supply immediate indicators of the level of destruction.

Disasters point out the fragility of a place and at the same time remind us of the strength of human ties and the resolve of communities. Following that line of thinking, deeper knowledge of local and regional systems would help knit everyone more closely together, allow for rescue and recovery to happen faster even as it is offering a narrative with more relevancy to those in far-off but similarly sized food systems.  If the watershed or the regional system for food production were one such way to describe the need among those participating in food initiatives, assistance could be met one farm, one family or even one small town at a time.

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Louisiana Update #5: Flood victims encouraged to preregister for DSNAP benefits 

DSNAP is being activated for the August 2016 Louisiana Flood and means that rural markets should be prepared to see a influx of folks new to SNAP benefits. Unfortunately, many of our smaller, volunteer-led markets are still deciding whether to become SNAP authorized.
Here are the markets in Louisiana currently authorized as SNAP retailers (of course, some farm stands may also be authorized and are not included in this list):
Abita Springs Farmer’s Market Abita Springs
Cane River Green Market Natchitoches
Capstone Farmers Market 5007 New Orleans
Common Ground Health Clinic-Farmers Market New Orleans
Creole Market New Iberia
Crescent City Farmers Market New Orleans (4 locations)
Inglewood Harvest Barn Alexandria
Lafayette Farmers And Artisans Market Lafayette
Leesville Main Street Market Leesville
Market On LaSalle New Orleans
Marketplace at Armstrong Park New Orleans
Ruston Farmers Market Ruston
Oberlin Farmers’ Market Oberlin
Pearl River Farmers Market Pearl River
Red Stick Farmers Market Baton Rouge (2 locations plus mobile market)
Sankofa Farmers Market New Orleans
Shreveport Farmers’ Market Shreveport
Winn Farmers Market Winnfield

This list contains a few that my information indicates are not currently active and a few of these (9 of the 22) are in New Orleans which is  not near enough to the flooded zone to help most folks.
Since the state has about 80 farmers markets listed in various places, the above list shows how ill-prepared the state’s markets are to absorb these new shoppers.

Of course, some of the markets in Mississippi can also serve this clientele as many of the parishes hit hard are close to the state line; that is, if the benefit users are aware of the rules and where the markets are in MS and if those markets are prepared to accept those temporary SNAP users.

My experience as Deputy Director of Market Umbrella before and after Hurricanes Katrina/Rita (and on staff still during the BP oil spill) showed how much markets can do during disasters to offer solace, community and healthy choices to people under enormous stress. We were one of the few places in New Orleans up and running in 2005 (we reopened November 22) with EBT access, working with our fellow markets* across the area to help producers recover and doing our best to help other outlets open in our city.

From the very beginning in 1995, the founders of our markets had hoped to attract a significant number of at-risk shoppers, but as they opened in the era of EBT, the market was on the wrong side of technology for many years. As a result though, our 2004/2005 SNAP pilot strategy was relatively well thought out and predicated on the reality that our markets had not yet attracted their share of low-income shoppers but had the potential to serve that group as well as the cash shoppers we had attracted. Our token pilot led to the visit in the summer of 2005 of Bill Ludwig and the Southwest Regional FNS staff with then Under Secretary of Agriculture Eric Bost in tow to see and celebrate our early SNAP token and incentive work. Interestingly, Ludwig remarked during the visit on how helpful a token system might be during disasters. As we wrote a few years later, we remembered that comment later in 2005 and reflected on prescient he had been.
That long preparation meant we had outreach and materials to use when the levee breaks and oil spills and floods came (yeah we’re getting used to it) and the staff trained to make it happen.
So what we now know is the ability to support the citizens of towns and cities to recover from a major disaster requires organizational sophistication and preparation, which most of our newly emerging markets across the state are still working to achieve.

It is time for the national market field to create a toolkit for disaster planning, both for its vendors but also for its market organizers in order to be prepared when (not if) a situation like the one unfolding in Louisiana hits their area. USDA and FNS can be very helpful in this planning with needed policy changes such as lifting the requirement of location-specific SNAP licensing/transactions, loosening the ban on on-site hot food again (as was done in past disasters). It would also be helpful for funders like the innovative Wholesome Wave to increase their incentive work for disaster-hit areas along the lines of the incentive we created together for the Gulf Coast fishers in 2010.

Let’s get ready, folks.

How DSNAP works:
If you already receive SNAP benefits and are eligible for disaster benefits, you do not need to pre-register, as benefits will be added to your benefit card automatically.

Pre-registering does not guarantee benefits. DSNAP is only administered after a federally declared disaster and after the state receives approval from the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services to activate DSNAP services.After a disaster is declared, residents who have pre-registered only need to visit a DSNAP issuance site to verify their information and identity, determine final eligibility and receive their benefit cards. Eligibility requirements and DSNAP locations will be announced at the time of a disaster.

You may name an Authorized Representative to go to a DSNAP site on your behalf. Accommodations will be made for the elderly and those with disabilities to reduce on-site wait times.The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services  is encouraging those who have experienced loss or damage in the severe storms and flooding to preregister for benefits under the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (DSNAP).

DSNAP benefits are issued for one month, but they can be used for up to 365 days.  You will get your card when you go to the site, they will be loaded on the card within 3 days.
What amount will I receive in DSNAP benefits?

Household Size DSNAP Allotment
1 $194
2 $357
3 $511
4 $649
5 $771
6 $925
7 $1022
8 $1169
Each Additional Member  +$146

Source: Flood victims in Louisiana encouraged to preregister for DSNAP benefits | New Orleans – WDSU Home

http://www.katc.com/story/32814032/what-you-need-to-know-about-dsnap-food-stamps-benefits

 

 

 

*Deep appreciation for our colleagues at the Red Stick, Covington and Gretna farmers markets who, in 2005, were incredibly helpful to Market Umbrella and offered temporary spots to our vendors and help to our staff as needed.

The Seasons on Henry’s Farm

The first full morning back in town after my trip to the IFMA conference was satisfyingly spent on actual labor: helping my pals at Crescent City Books get the store moved to the new location by shelving their cooking and gardening sections. Afterwards, I came back to the Quarter to make a pizza with as many farmers market ingredients as could be crammed on, sided by local ale and all to be enjoyed in the sunny and warm courtyard. As background music from the drums and horns of the pickup band always working for tourists dollars in Jackson Square wafted over the wall, I continued to read a wonderful farming book authored by Terra Brockman, founder of The Land Connection, Illinois family farmhand, and clearly, top-notch writer.

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I met Terra a few years back at the first IFMA-led Illinois farmers market conference and found her to be one of those doers who think with absolute clarity about the ecological and human impacts of the industrial agricultural age. That type of intellect,  paired with that determined pioneer spirit for building logical new systems, is always encouraging to find in one’s colleagues. I knew that since that conference she had put TLC in other capable hands (as I saw through their presentations and available materials at this year’s conference) and had herself gone back to working with her family farm and written this highly regarded book. So, I was pleased to see it available for purchase at the TLC table this year.

If you want to know what it it means for a direct-marketing family farm in a commodity state to live and work in service to their land and its seasons, as well as to their ancestors and their present community, I suggest you pick up her book, “The Seasons on Henry’s Farm.” It is absorbing, beautifully written and organized to give you a snapshot of the life of a farm, season by season, plant by plant, decision by decision. Like any good farmer, any talk of the food being grown also includes recipes and the ones in the book are so good that I dogeared almost every page with one. I think it should be required reading for every grower, marketgoer, market manager and every municipal and regional leader. In other words, everyone interested in food sovereignty and those influencing its future.

http://www.brockmanfamilyfarming.com/terras-writings

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

Self-administered survey-New Orleans Market Match user

This is (basically) the same system that Crescent City Farmers Market (CCFM) in New Orleans has used to gather data from incentive users (incentiv-ers?) since they began doing them some years back. They call their incentive Market Match.

As one of the staff who was responsible for doing it when it began and was part of the discussion about it, I really liked it. It is on a pad that is pulled off to have the person fill out and then each slip is added to the clipboard (or put in a container) to be entered into spreadsheets at a later time. The darker grey is filled out by the market staff person after the other part is completed by the shopper. What I know is that the system was designed with both the shopper and the market staff needs in minds, which as we all know is important and yet not always done. I’d like them to be numbered chronologically so as to know that none were lost. Maybe they are numbered, I’ll check to see.

Sorry for the wrinkles- it ended up in my market bag under the citrus. I’ll get some more pics of their system-including a better version of this and maybe the other collection forms if they will allow me to continue to peek over their shoulder.

MMtracking form_CCFM

It was 20 years ago today…

…that Crescent City Farmers Market began to have it’s say. September 30, 1995 is remembered by many as the first day of the food and market movement in New Orleans and really, the entire region. And it all began with a market of 12 vendors (about half rural farmers and the rest urban growers), most of whom sold out in an hour or two.

Founded by three local activists of varied interests and backgrounds, John Abajian, Sharon Litwin and Richard McCarthy, CCFM has grown into a four-day per week, year-round anchor for regional food and public health activism with an impact in the tens of millions.

To get a sense of the evolution here are some of the most significant moments captured among the many past press releases and some of my own memories:

circa 2000 (the second location at Uptown Square had opened only a few months earlier):

The Saturday and Tuesday Markets’ combined now average over 65 small-scale farmers, fishermen, community gardeners, food producers and over 2,000 shoppers each week. The farmers are now coming from three states and fishing families from all over southeast Louisiana. In a June 1999 economic impact study conducted by students at the A.B Freeman School of Business at Tulane University, it reveals that the Saturday morning market generates over $1 million in direct economic impact benefiting market vendors and downtown businesses, thus creating a new vision of regional cooperation.”

circa 2006 (the original plan to celebrate the 10th anniversary in 2005 was lost in the aftermath of the levee breaks of Hurricane Katrina, so the “Re10th” was held in 2006):

“On Saturday, August 27, 2005, market staffers Richard McCarthy and Darlene Wolnik were at the Saturday Market mapping out plans for autumn 2005: Saturday Market’s tenth anniversary… Plans were interrupted by the anxious talk of a little known storm that had just entered the Gulf of Mexico — Katrina. …On this anniversary date, the Saturday Market invites members of the culinary diaspora to return home to the mother of all markets in the region. While the family of Crescent City Farmers Markets is half of its pre-storm size of four, co-founder Richard McCarthy explains, “Give it time; we now have twice the verve.

circa 2010 (The market had reopened its third market earlier in the year, the first in a previously flooded neighborhood and created the first of its kind, a market incentive program for fishing community families undone by the April BP oil spill, funded by Wholesome Wave.

Interestingly, at this anniversary Market Umbrella was just a baby, as it had finally became its own 501(c) organization in 2008 after spending the first 14 years at Loyola University as the ECOnomics Institute, housed at the Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice):

As it celebrates its 15th anniversary, Crescent City Farmers Market (CCFM) hosts a four-course dinner at Emeril’s Delmonico  Wednesday, Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m. Chef Spencer Minch will use seasonal ingredients from CCFM farmers to prepare the meal.

circa 2015 (market organizers gave buttons to the vendors noting how long each had been a vendor of the market to wear on the 20th anniversary. A few of those):

“Can you believe it’s been 20 years since we first opened our umbrellas at the muraled Reily parking lot at Magazine and Girod? When Richard McCarthy, Sharon Litwin and John Abajian co-founded the Crescent City Farmers Market in 1995, they aimed to create a public space where New Orleanians could meet, greet, and make groceries that were fresh and produced locally…Join us this Saturday as we raise a toast to 20 years of the Crescent City Farmers Market. We’ll have music from the Roamin’ Jasmine starting at 9 a.m. and cake from Rivista and beet lemonade from Amanda to pass around at 10 a.m. You may even see some old faces coming out to make an appearance.”

Raise your glass to another 20 years.

As oyster season revs up, new type of Gulf oyster turning heads in New Orleans 

When ecological concerns force new ideas, direct relationships make those ideas able to be introduced and tested in a simple and effective way:

Local awareness of off-bottom oysters got a boost in July when the Crescent City Farmers Market hosted a special event with a new producer, Grand Isle Sea Farm, which dished out sample crates of its harvest to local chefs.

Source: As oyster season revs up, new type of Gulf oyster turning heads in New Orleans

A bittersweet thanks from a market vendor

One of the great market bakers over the last many years in New Orleans wrote the letter below telling of his decision to leave the Tuesday market in New Orleans to his customers via Facebook and his website. (He remains at their Saturday market still.) This vendor is an extremely creative and dedicated artisan and one with diversified marketing and product ideas. Unfortunately in his estimation, the potential for sales are diminishing, especially at the weekday markets. That view is not his alone; it is shared by some other vendors. This is the first comment after his Facebook post and happened to be from another past market baker: “This is sad to hear for me because this is why I had to stop being a farmer’s market baker full time 5 years ago. I miss my CCFM family and wish everyone the best.”

When markets go through this, it can be a painful and messy break up or it can be a mature parting with lessons learned for all. Everyone has to agree to be careful with their language (spoken, written and body) and to be intentionally fair as the weeks and months go on.

I think this letter does a great job not to assign any blame and offers some good starting points for talking this through with shoppers, other vendors and the staff of the market organization. This is a volatile time for markets in New Orleans and the small businesses contained within feel the brunt of that ebb and flow.  I also well remember the pressure of being a market organizer, remembering every minute that good men and women and their families and employees rely on your estimations of the numbers of happy return shoppers, where to find inquisitive new shoppers, devising events that work and don’t detract from sales, outreach and marketing dollars spent well, locations remaining stable, partnerships adding value and so on while trying to calm fears and add excitement among the vendors while you do it.

As a market advocate and a member of this community, I worry along with all of them and show up at every market and event that I can and share information freely to help everyone move forward. Because our purpose in building a community food system is to offer new opportunities that offer sustained value and multiple types of benefits along every step of the chain, and honor the producers who are building this on their backs and with their many talents, supported by the hard work and talent of market and other food system organizers. Let’s all keep momentum moving forward to reduce the quantity of these type of letters.

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25 November 2014

Dear Farmers Market Customers:

It is with a heavy heart that we are announcing our departure from Tuesday’s Crescent City Farmers Market (CCFM). Due to a sustained erosion of sales over the course of the past eights months, and to the unpredictably of future markets, we are forced to withdraw our booth from this cherished market. Our last TUESDAY market will be the 25th of November.

Although Bellegarde Bakery, in its original gestation as “Babcia Kubiak’s Breads”, began at CCFM five years ago, we have found that the current status of public markets in New Orleans is extremely volatile. There is an overwhelming consensus among vendors at CCFM that “business is not what it used to be”: due to the nature of Bellegarde’s craft, and our commitment to quality, we do not have a “product” which we can freeze, store, or transfer once market is over. We make fresh bread, day in and day out, in heat and in cold, on weekends and on holidays, so that our customers can understand the integrity of fresh food.

We are extremely vulnerable—physically and financially—to capricious weather, shopping habits, and other food ‘trends’ that degrade the quality and consistency of farmers markets. Vendors at farmers markets are at the bottom of the proverbial food chain: we do all the sowing and receive little of the harvest. The current food economy of America is such that money, respect, and stability trickle down from celebrity chefs, supermarkets, and restaurants to the bottom of the pool—fishermen, beekeepers, bakers, farmers: the people that actually make food have trouble making a living at their primary venue of sales: the farmers market. Without any institutional or municipal support through grants, press, mentorship, or subsidy, we vendors suffer the modern whims of that most basic human gesture: the eating and sharing food.

By the vendors, for the vendors: it’s a motto we still live by. We have an implacable commitment to rebuilding the edible architecture of New Orleans through grains and breads. We will remain at our SATURDAY booth and you can find us in a litany of retail locations—from Rouses and Whole Foods to St James Cheese and Faubourg Wines. Please follow the “retail” tab on our website, bellegardebakery.com, or call the shop with any questions about where to find our bread. Thank you, sincerely, for your continued support and faith.

Diana Pinckley remembered

The event listed below is to happen this week and was excerpted from my home Crescent City Farmers Market “morsel” as they call their weekly email:
Diana Pinckley passed away in 2012; she was an irreplaceable member of our community and one sorely missed for her leadership and her friendship, both always given easily to so many.
The regard for her found on any market day in New Orleans can and should be multiplied in the thousands to stand in for all of the many initiatives or events that she supported across our region. The people I know through her represent her well: willing to give their time and talent and always remembering to be joyful.
Thanks, Pinckley. I’m honored to raise a glass for you this weekend and pleased to represent farmers markets where we remember and honor our people.

Raise a Glass to Pinckley with CCFM! |
FRESH & LOCAL
Each year we choose one of our local food heroes – a farmer, chef, culinary educator, devoted farmers market shopper or local food system champion – to be the face of our market tokens. This Saturday, we’ll unveil our 2014 market token and celebrate the life of long-time CCFM shopper and supporter, community activist and mentor to so many working to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, Diana Pinckley. “Pinckley”, as she was known to close friends, loved mystery novels, bluegrass and the color purple. In addition to her work as a public relations executive, communications strategist and book reviewer, Pinckley shared her time and talent with many New Orleans civic organizations. She was a member of “Women of the Storm” and one of CityBusiness‘s Women of the Year in 2006. She served on the New Orleans Council for Young Children, the Committee of 21, the board of the Foundation for Science and Mathematics Education, the Edible Schoolyard New Orleans task force and was chairwoman of the board of the CCFM. She raised money for WWNO-FM and was an active volunteer at WWOZ-FM. She passed away in September 2012. New Orleans is a better place because of Diana Pinckley. Please join us, her husband John Pope and friends to raise a glass at 10am, tap your toes to the music of Lost in the Holler and celebrate the life of one of the CCFM’s most cherished friends. Purple attire encouraged.

How the Bitcoin protocol actually works and what that means for us

Complementary currencies fascinate me and recently, the crypto currency bitcoin especially. Its an example of a decentralized example designed to reduce  inflation (although maybe not deflation) and the need to have a central authority. I agree with many that the bitcoin seems unlikely to be a replacement for fiat currency (government-decreed legal currency) and I also agree with the concern over the ultimate role of this currency that has a limit to how much can be “mined.” Still, important to remember that gold has very close to the same values and limits and has flourished as a protection against only using a national currency.

The reason why this should be so important to food system organizers-especially to direct marketing outlets-is that many of these outlets are operating what is essentially a debiting system with tokens,  yet doing it without the robust and transparent nature of a currency system, or without a fair and openly discussed exchange rate that asks everyone possible to share the costs. In other words, we have built systems that allow people to begin to depend on the market to supply a debiting system so as not to have to stop and get cash before coming to market, or from vendors from having their own machine and costs, yet are not extending the reach of that system to find ways to pay and find support for it. What seems to be the goal for most involved is to dream of the day that we can hand these systems off to the farmers to run themselves. I would say that for many reasons this is unlikely in any near future as these systems will remain unwieldy to manage.
Those reasons for the delay or impossibility of the vendor hand off happening include (but are not limited to):
-the lack of easy-to-manage back office systems
-the wide variations of card fees and systems needed to swipe cards
-the costs for each vendor to purchase and maintain these systems. Add to that the very nature of pop up markets without access to good wifi or mobile phone signals, the low number of transactions per vendor and complication of a high number of customer transactions on any one day with many small businesses that will confuse and alert card processors.
To me, what comes first is solving these problems and extending this system’s reach to savings and loans pilots. What about allowing restaurants that source locally to accept the tokens during slow months? Or working with banks to help provide some accounting or backing? What about establishing micro loans to encourage more people to use this as a sticky currency working through a local food system? The Berkshares system in Great Barrington area is an uniquely designed currency that is experimenting with these ideas and more and has added hundreds of outlets at which their currency can be used; it is surely one that should be studied closely by our field, if nothing else.
There are examples of different token pilots at markets, such as MarketUmbrella’s Crescent Fund and Massachusetts’ pilot of electronic wallet (an example here of an electronic wallet) but these pilots are still so limited and information is not widely available. I would love to see some deep analysis of the impact of these systems and some prototyping of entire systems, especially with the emergence of these popular electronic currency such as bitcoins and vibrant complementary currencies such as the Berkshares.

How the Bitcoin protocol actually works | DDI.

Overstock says they’ll take Bitcoin