Hello fellow permies. I wasn't sure where to post this.
I recently started a local food movement in Greenwood Lake NY and it really seems to be resonating with the community. I only mention this since I feel Permaculture and Permies will be the leading voices in the coming years.
In my opinion growing food is the most powerful is the most powerful act one can do. As Bill Mollison said, if only 10% of the population grew their own food that would be enough to feed everyone. Just trying to get a feel how many in this community are either involved in local food movements or transition towns?
My community (and a lot of others in BC/Canada) has an heirloom seed swap every year and most of the seeds being exchanged are for food plants. I participated this year to share some of my extra seeds and it was a lot of fun. We also have a Saturday market where people can buy local food (mostly veg but also bread, cheese etc) and I think there's a new stand this year where home gardeners can drop off their excess produce to sell on some sort of consignment type deal. I haven't looked much into that because we don't grow a lot of excess yet but I thought it was a good idea.
I can't say that I'm actively working with a community of people on local food, but one of the things I've been focusing on even more this year is sourcing food from my property first, then the farmers markets second, and grocery stores and restaurants last. I've been trying to share bits of this approach idea more widely via my blog, though I can't say I have a large readership there yet.
I suppose you could say I'm trying to promote the idea via example by doing it. :)
That's great, always lead by example. I always say to myself, first me, then my family, then the community, then the world.
I think many, many people are interested in growing food and local food we just need to connect the dots. When we have enough people a tipping point will occur.
I just set up a table at my village street fair and got 30 names! I don't know where this will go exactly but I feel compelled to move ahead. I feel Permies will be one of the people leading the change.
Chad - I share your passion for this idea. I think education, foraging, and small-scale gardening could go a long way towards this movement, and I keep coming back to the following considerations:
1. Only a small portion of folks have the skills to hunt/fish/forage, and most of them share their bounty, but it’s often spread thin.
2. The local farm produce is not cheap. It’s cheaper to shop at the grocery for low quality, processed foods.
3. Those who do have gardens, have a hard time growing more than potatoes, onions, garlic, and brassicas.
4. While there are bounties of wild berries to be gathered by those who have the time, there are no other sources of fruit on-island - unless you have your own trees - which are grown and sold on island, but can be rather expensive.
Do you have any ideas of how you could kickstart the movement? How do we make gardening and acquiring high quality, local produce more affordable?
One idea I’ve thought of would be assembling a cooperative to nurse landrace annuals, and perennial crops, while the group’s mission is to help on-board and educate several new members each year, arming them with a few fruit and nut trees or shrubs, a small raised bed garden, some small composting infrastructure, seeds and information on caring instructions. People could apply to become a member - you could start with those who have lower income - since theoretically they would have the least access to farmer’s market produce.
This could also be coupled with free foraging talks and classes.
I certainly agree about leading with example. In the spring I've taken nettles to a small pot-luck to serve (Blackened Nettles - basically fried with a little garlic and oil). I go to a friend's for dinner Friday nights and took NettleHoney Cake also earlier this year. I've invited company over for Venison Enchiladas, and Muscovy duck spaghetti.
I also helped a friend build her first raised bed. It was only 4x8 feet, but gradually she built more. Unfortunately she's had health problems and there's only so much I can do to help when I'm already busy in the spring with my own gardens.
I definitely feel at this point, many people would benefit from basic cooking classes which don't involve any prepackaged ingredients. We might find them more willing to forage and grow things that they've successfully cooked. The trick is to find the people who would really benefit, and make it affordable for them. I'm not a church member, but I do know a couple of members who might be open to the idea, and I do know that the church they attend has a decent kitchen.
That is also a point to remember - many of our poorest have at most a hotplate and a single pot to work with. Teaching them to take Ramen soup, cook it in bone broth instead of water, and add chopped dandelion greens, walking onion and commercial carrots would already be a step in the right direction. Taking a step back from perfection may be the way to start.
Simon brings up a great point, there are many problems , mostly a mind set, every bit of marketing is geared towards us not growing our own food. Emphasizing how hard it is, we could never grow enough, etc.
People would rather shop at a super market and are scared of becoming a "farmer". We used to all grow organic, local food 100 years ago. I am focusing on people growing food in their backyards, I'm thinking of running a Victory garden contest, try to bring back memories of the old days. An organization that really impresses me is Fleetfarming.org. They make it very easy to grow food, they give consultations, build the raised beds, bring the compost, plant the plants and set up watering, all for very little or free. They also use some of these plots called Fleetlettes to share surplus and sell that to restaurants and farmers markets. I hope to copy that idea.
I am hoping to really move forward next year and focus on education this year. My main focus is on making it fun and easy. I will keep you posted how it goes. We are called Grow Local Greenwood Lake.
Companion Planting Guide by World Permaculture Association