Growing up in a small town in northern Michigan, I learned that big, important things happen in other places. Sitcoms and movies did not take place near our cornfields or cherry orchards. The news was always about other places, unless it was about people losing their jobs. Being successful meant leaving town.
Rural population in the U.S. has declined for most of my lifetime, for myriad reasons. People and resources are leaving and in agricultural regions, Big Ag just keeps moving in. The truth is, if things keep going this way, ways of life–and whole communities–will collapse.
Throughout the Midwest, a growing movement of young farmers and students want to flip the script. My friends in Elgin, MN and Petoskey, MI and Solon, IA don’t want to leave town, they want to dig in. We want a real food system–one that truly nourishes producers and consumers, communities, and the earth.
It doesn’t look like we’ll be getting a lot of help from Congress or the USDA. Farm Bill programs and food safety rules are poised to further hurt small, beginning growers who want to grow and innovate or are struggling to get their farm operations started in the first place.
So it’s up to you and us!
Real Food Challenge is uniting students and communities to do big things in Big Ag country. We’re harnessing the power of our large, community-anchoring, many-person-feeding universities by shifting their large food purchasing budgets to local, sustainable, fair food businesses.
We can’t do it alone. To launch our real food campaigns on Midwestern campuses, we will criss-cross the region to offer workshops, organize summits, and provide direct technical assistance. We need markers and meeting spaces, flip charts and fuel, and amazing staff people.
In the next 14 days, we’re trying to reach our goal of $10,000 to make this happen. We need $5,000. We’d love 50, 100 or 200 more believers.
Originally published by the Real Food Challenge.