Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)


"If there is to be a movement to restore economic values, it will have to cut across the current taxonomies. Its goal will be to make the U.S. again a producer economy, not a consumer economy. It will champion a return to financial self-restraint, large and small."

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Comment by Heather Flansworth on December 4, 2009 at 1:07pm
I found this article really interesting, especially the part about returning to a "producer economy." I don't know if you have an answer to this question or not, but do you have any thoughts on what the "ordinary person's" part in this should be? I feel like one of the reasons I've become so disengaged from politics over the past few years is that more than ever, it seems like I have no power over what happens in Washington (I mean, even when I could vote for the first time, that didn't turn out anything like what I'd hoped [2004]). I know that on a personal level I can produce more myself, and support local producers, and practice personal financial restraint, but what else? You start to feel pretty impotent, you know? Even if you know some people in politics, and heck, even if you are in politics, you don't seem to be able to put your ideas and values into action.

The one thought I have is that we can enter our voices into the public debate-that's about all I've come up with (though the debate seems pretty clogged with people shouting and Glenn Beck crying). When I was younger I used to think that through public education I could foster a concern for social and economic justice, but the system in its current incarnation is broken in so many ways that I still get upset whenever I talk about it, and the craziness of the adults involved (administrators, parents, teachers who are drunk while grading standardized tests) meant any successes seemed horribly small in comparison to the amount of time I spent in my classroom banging my head against a wall.

What do you think we should do?
Comment by Cornelia on December 7, 2009 at 5:42pm
Hi Heather,
Thanks for chiming in. I loved this article because of how it challenges us as individuals to take BACK our power by participating in a "producer economy" and a "moral recalibration". The US is built on individual ingenuity and the ability to return to the founding tenets: thoughtful financial restraint, frugality, independent vision, humility rather than entitlement.
There are so many examples of cultural shifts affecting policy - that is partly the reason that this web site exists. Organic farmers turned to those methods for cultural - as well as financial, moral and ideological - reasons. There is community to be found in culture. Validation for being a part of a larger culture...By you using your awareness about climate change, concentration of power in food and agriculture, socioeconomic disparity, etc. to live YOUR life differently, you are part of a building movement for change. It is maybe not as dramatically satisfying as marching through the streets or organizing boycotts (both of which are still sometimes effective), but you are an agent for change.
I'll give you an example of how I reconcile my disgust for the state of the world with a feeling of impotence: I just finished reviewing some grant proposals that Farm Aid received (much of what we do is grant $$ to food and farm organizations) and there are groups that - for years - have been changing the food system on a very very local level - either by teaching children about gardening and growing fresh produce, or creating markets for farmers to sell directly to consumers and institutions, or by empowering farmers with useful research, knowledge and connections to other farmers. The work of these small groups form a patchwork of change agents that we are now seeing further strengthened by changes at the policy level. Without the humble, thoughtful, hard work of these small groups, there wouldn't be a foundation upon which we now can implement policies. Does that make sense?
You're in Brooklyn - what can you do? Sounds like you had a bad experience at that school, but...Keep doing the things that you do: support your local economy, get your hands dirty, create community around meaningfu thins and, if you have time and particular interests - Work with a group. Lend a hand - as a volunteer, board member, donor, ambassador - and you are part of the solution.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.


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