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The Greenhouse Project (VIDEO)

It’s hard times right now. Looking around, from city to small town, there are empty buildings everywhere. For lease signs loom in windows, brand new office buildings stand deserted and never used. It all seems like such a waste of resources and energy and a sad reminder of the pace our economy has slowed to. In the face of this hardship,  ideas such as The Greenhouse Project in Central Wisconsin offer respite. A group of passionate people, working on a volunteer basis towards providing “opportunities for participation, education, cooperation, and action to support a local food economy in Central Wisconsin” have banded together and successfully started renovations on a dilapidated 38,000 square foot property in downtown Stevens Point. The vision is to create a self-sustaining, multi-faceted production and education center, where rural farming techniques can coalesce with a thriving urban community ready to learn about them. Read more

Food Justice and Building a Movement in Arizona

The food justice movement is alive–and growing–in Arizona. This, despite, or perhaps even due to, a political climate that, at least at this moment, is chilling.

For example, just last Thursday, when I was returning back to L.A., less than two months after Gabrielle Giffords was shot and nine people were killed in Tucson, the Arizona State Senate debated legislation that would allow students to bring guns into the classroom. When the measure was finally passed, the legislators decided to modify the bill to allow students to bring guns onto campus on the sidewalks and into the common areas but not yet into the classroom. “Sometimes you have to take baby steps,” Read more

The 2012 Farm Bill: It’s Not Too Late to Think Big

Mention the 2012 Farm Bill these days, which I do as often as I can, and you’re likely to be met with uncomfortable silence, head shaking, eye rolling, or worse. Legislators who are thinking about the next Farm Bill are already talking about it in terms of untouchable commodity programs, compromises they’re ready to make, and scraps they’re desperate to hold on to. Average Americans who are interested in these sorts of things–the ones who don’t stare blankly–are overwhelmed by the size of the bill, its complexity, and the various special interests at play. It’s not pretty.

Understanding the Farm Bill: A Citizen’s Guide to a Better Food System, a Facebook page launched last month by Mark Muller from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and myself aims to take a first, small step towards demystifying the Farm Bill. Our goal is to empower concerned citizens across the United States by communicating what’s at stake in the 2012 Farm Bill in terms that we can all understand. Read more

Community Organizing: Addressing Food Access and Security in Bayview Hunters Point

Kitchen Table Talks announced its third installment of its new conversation series about the American food system. Community Organizing: Addressing Food Access and Security in Bayview Hunters Point will be held on Tuesday, July 28 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at the architecture offices of Sagan-Piechota in San Francisco.

Guest speakers Jeffrey Betcher, Bayview Hunters Point resident, community organizer and co-founder of the Quesada Gardens Initiative and Gina Fromer, Executive Director of Bayview YMCA and food security activist, will discuss the importance of community organizing in addressing food access and security needs in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. Read more

Brooklyn Food Conference Takes to the Streets

On Saturday, 3,000 people gathered at John Jay public high school for the Brooklyn Food Conference, a grassroots, volunteer-organized discussion around the state of our food system, featuring keynote talks by Dan Barber, Anna Lappé, Raj Patel, and LaDonna Redmond.  Along with these talks were 70 workshops throughout the classrooms of the school, on subjects as varied as growing your own food, starting a co-op and the value of breastfeeding.

According to the accompanying bright yellow guide, one of the goals of this event was to “bring Brooklynites together to demand — and participate in creating — a vital, healthy, and just food system available to everyone.” By my assessment, that is just what’s begun to happen. Read more