No secret that we can’t be exactly unbiased talking about the latest Our Land episode, but as a blogger who has essentially no film-making skills and had no part in the making of this video, I have to say that it’s kind of the bomb-diggity. Episode Six, “Building a Regional Food System,” which follows the Cook family of Maine. The Cooks are responsible for the first large organic potato operation in Aroostiuck County, the phenomenally innovative and inspiring Crown of Maine Co-op, and Northern Girl— a value added processing plant that provides rural farmers with access to institutional buyers across New England. The story and its footage is as poignant and hopeful as you’d like to start off your day, but the video goes so far beyond your typical feel-good foodie youtube piece and into the nitty-gritty challenges of what it actually takes to create resilient regional food systems.
by Sophie Mendelson
My grandfather likes to tell a story about a family gathering during my early childhood. It’s somebody’s birthday, and my extended family is gathered around a long table in the dim mid-afternoon light of a Baltimore tavern. The waitress comes to the table to take our orders. The adults ask for straightforward fare: hamburgers, club sandwiches, caesar salads. Then the waitress turns to four-year-old me and asks what I’d like. “And you, in your piping voice, say: the rack of lamb, please!” He chortles. “That waitress could hardly believe her ears!”
Growing up, I thought people ate beef because they couldn’t find any lamb. Why else, I figured, would someone choose a boring steak over the heat-crisped exterior, rosy interior—tender and juicy and with a flavor actually particular—of a lamb chop?
My parents weren’t from Greece or Lebanon or anywhere else known for its affinity for sheep meat, but somehow they had discovered lamb, and so we ate lamb. We ordered it at restaurants. We served it to guests. It wasn’t a mundane meal for us, still a treat, but not an unusual one.
As it turns out, this is not the typical American relationship with lamb. Continue reading
Real Food Films is calling for filmmakers to submit projects by April 1st that correspond to the themes of:
- Crafting Public Policies for Public Health: Taking on Big Soda
- Building Power with Food Workers
- Tackling Climate Change Through Food
Selected films will be included in their 2017 Organizing Toolkits, which will be jam-packed with educational materials for groups and individuals interested in working in food system reform.
Or, well, almost. As you may remember, two summers ago, the Greenhorns loaded a schooner with 10 tons– $70,000 worth of cargo– and sailed it from Maine to Boston to sell at markets in the city. And then, the NEWSAG conference held a “FoodBarge Hack” lunch at their annual conference. The Portland Press Herald said of the project, “It’s art. It’s protest. It’s celebration. And, who knows? It may even be a practical way to get cargo to market.”
It looks like Maine’s Department of Transportation might actually agree. As BDN Maine reports, “The National Governor’s Association submitted its members’ wish lists to the Trump administration last week. The overall list isn’t being made public, but the Maine Department of Transportation is releasing its proposal: almost half a billion dollars for improving the state’s roads and bridges and to jump-start a project that would revive a long-dormant coastal barge route, from Maine to New York City.” They’re calling it the “New England Marine Highway.”
Though the Greenhorns would like to see a less fossil-fuel dependent model than tug-boat-pulled barges, we’re glad to see people thinking more creatively about viable ways to move goods from agricultural areas to regional markets. Put a sail on that barge— or, oh we don’t know, a solar panel, a hydrokinetic turbine, or some draft power— and we’re all for it!
Missed Maine Sail Freight, read more here!
“But for my entire life, my own country has apathetically accepted an American model of farming and food retailing, mostly through a belief that it was the way of progress and the natural course of economic development. As a result, America’s future is the default for us all.
It is a future in which farming and food have changed and are changing radically — in my view, for the worse. Thus I look at the future with a skeptical eye. We have all become such suckers for a bargain that we take the low prices of our foodstuffs for granted and are somehow unable to connect these bargain-basement prices to our children’s inability to find meaningful work at a decently paid job.”
– James Rebanks in the New York Times op-eds last week explaining why the stakes are so high, but missing all the reasons to hope… (This is the part where we say, YOU, Greenhorns! From your draft-powered farms to your new resilient corporative models, there are a lot of new energy in rural America. And, thank you!)
Growing Food, Building Community
AMI Fellowship Program: 2017 Applications Available
Allegheny Mountain Institute (AMI) is seeking inspiring individuals to participate in the sixth cohort of our AMI Fellowship program. The 18-month Fellowship prepares and empowers individuals to become teachers and ambassadors for a more vibrant and accessible local food system. The Fellowship is a program of AMI, an educational non-profit organization with the mission to cultivate healthy communities through food and education.
Phase I (April 30-November 1, 2017)
In the first phase of the program, Fellows connect with the food system as they live, work and study on the mountain farm campus in rural Highland County, Virginia. Fellows gain a full season of experience in sustainable growing methods, small animal husbandry, and rotational livestock grazing on a diversified farm. In addition, Fellows study topics such as permaculture design, whole foods preparation and preservation, wellness and nutrition, land stewardship, leadership, and community development through hands-on experience on the farm, expert guest instructors, field trips and daily educational sessions. Upon successful completion of their Phase I training, AMI Fellows receive a $1,000 stipend.
Phase II (January 1- December 31, 2018)
AMI Fellows apply their Phase I training as they work on community projects focused on building healthy communities through food and education. Working with AMI and other Partner Organizations, Senior Fellows build organizational capacity and launch new programs such as: building community gardens, developing school gardens and site-based curriculum, advocating for sustainable land use, and teaching nutrition and cooking for a healthy lifestyle. Supported by the AMI network, Senior Fellows continue to meet regularly for leadership and professional development. Fellows receive a monthly stipend of $1,500 (subject to payroll taxes) and a Permaculture Design Certificate upon successful completion of the year.
Applicants must be physically fit, able to lift 50 pounds, walk distances up and down steep hills, work outdoors for extended periods of the day, and be comfortable living and working communally as a team in a remote, mountain setting.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis (Deadline: February 19) and are available at: www.alleghenymountaininstitute.org