Laura Ahrens and Myra Goodman
Our journey Wednesday afternoon began at Earthbound Farms. Myra Goodman, one of the founders, shared her story with us. The farm began in 1984 when Drew and Myra Goodman were “drawn to living closer to nature (http://www.earthboundfarm.com/).” Living and working on a farm, they learned various farming techniques. They became more aware of the different types of fertilizers and they began to explore organic farming options. As the Goodman’s journey unfolded before them, their eyes were opened to issues of food justice and the positive health impacts of eat organically. Now Earthbound Farms collaborates with local partners to expand their organic food production and their impact.
I think it is important here to pause and ask, “What is Food Justice?” When one scans the internet, one can find a variety of definitions. I have decided to use a framework drawing on the work of Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi in their book Food Justice. “A food justice framework ensures that the benefits and risks of how food is grown and processed, transported, distributed and consumed are shared equitably (https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/food-justice).”
In Myra Goodman’s story about Earthbound Farms, I heard several specific points which I would like to highlight. The first is that they had a desire to grow and eat fresh food. Their garden made it possible for them to “live local.”
As they learned about farming, they became aware of the negative impact some pesticides have on the environment. They decided they wanted to grow organic food. Their food is “grown with cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that promote ecological balance, conserve biodiversity and avoid the use of toxic and persistent chemicals and synthetic fertilizers, GMOs and irradiation (Earthbound Farm website, http://www.earthboundfarm.com/faq/).” Believing in food justice, they and their customers became part of the solution seeking to address certain aspects of food injustice.
As Earthbound Farm grew, they expanded their farm to include new collaborative partners. Some of those partners include local farmers who enable them to expand their local production. Other partners include educators helping Earthbound Farms teach visitors to the farm about organic farming and food justice.
In learning about organic farming and teaching others about what they do and how they do it, they are not only empowering themselves and building their own capacity to make a difference, they are also empowering others.
Earthbound Farms is a business. Their values include four key values that I share: Live local, build awareness about food injustice, collaborate with many diverse partners and empower self and others toward justice. These four categories easily translate into countless ways for people to have a positive impact in the areas of food and environmental justice. These tools that can help people to engage in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peace building.
I have seen these four categories make a difference in the area of food justice in Connecticut through the ministry of Community Gardens. I will share the story of Holy Advent in Clinton, Connecticut.
Holy Advent, Clinton, CT started Amazing Grace, a community garden, in order to grow good local food for the Shoreline Food Pantry located at the church. They began by raising the awareness of the local community about the lack of fresh vegetables for the poor in their community. They realized their church was too small to address the need alone so they reached out to the wider community ( other churches, civic organizations, gardens clubs, schools, etc.). They built intergenerational collaborative partners by drawing on the gifts of retirees, scouts, church groups and schools. The church is located between an elementary school and a memory care facility creating some wonderful partnership opportunities.
Access to water was a critical need from the beginning. This reality highlighted the need all people have for water, not only locally, but globally. Accessing an appropriate water supply led to many levels of collaboration and empowerment, including fund raising. Margaret Larom, the garden’s founder, notes that the garden highlights for all those involved that water and food are vital for life!
What we do locally makes a difference locally and globally. Seeking to address food injustice, we can see our global interconnectedness. Living local, building awareness, collaborating with and empowering others, we make a global difference. We are peace builders.