While I couldn’t possibly capture the whole of the wonderful energy and information that flew through the air at the PVGrows Fall Forum, I can certainly try to grab some of the highlights and bits that I held onto in order to enlighten those who couldn’t make it.
The first big handy chunk of information was the description of a healthy food system. The elements of this included: vibrant gardens, justice & fairness, healthy people, sustainable ecosystems, thriving local economies, and strong communities.
Food security is a major element of any healthy food system as well and certainly integral to what we are talking about developing for a sustainable Pioneer Valley. Food security can be broken down into household or community/regional. Household food security refers to having enough, good food, that you like to eat, and is healthy. Regional food security includes adequate food production for the area.
The panel then brought up some of what is going on in Western Mass to develop food security. Tasha Moultrie-Phillips, Mason Square Food Justice Task Force, really connected with me when she spoke about the need for a grocery store in Mason Square and the efforts of citizens to bring one in. With an ‘If you build it we will come’ attitude and the effort put in so far I think they just might get what they need. In the meantime the Mason Square farmers market is making a dent by providing vegetables to the community.
Next, Deb Habib, Executive Director of Seeds of Solidarity in Orange, inspired people to think of themselves not as economically impoverished, but as enriched in many other ways. Seeking to build local food resilience and grow food everywhere for health and justice this organization seems to be making a great dent in helping residents develop skills for food self-reliance.
Tory Field, Farmer and Co-Owner of Next Barn Over Farm in Hadley shared some of how the farm has been able to bring food into low-income communities through partnerships. While her information was fascinating what really had me thinking was how Next Barn Over made the decision mid season to change the way they were distributing their shares. While change is often shunned mid-stream Tory gave us a good reminder that flexibility is an important part of resilience.
Glynn Lloyd, Founder and CEO of City Fresh Foods in Boston completed the panel with his perspective on being a value-added food processor. Getting healthy meals to those who need it is important for certain in any food system. His points about creating local models to help sustain the community really hit home. Basically, the small regional business faces challenges when going up against the Goliaths of the food industry (Industrial Ag, China) in keeping costs competitive. At the same time they are developing the systems that will allow for food security in the future, an essential objective for food security. I will want to write a whole post on this concept so check back in the future and I’ll link that here.
*If I missed something you felt was important please feel free to add it with a comment. As always the sharing of information is an important key to a vibrant community.*