From: John Sundquist
To: Positive Change
Sent: Wednesday, May 02, 2007 5:14 PM
Subject: FYI 4-28-07 Food Panel summary--Relocalization Conference
Hello, here's a summary of what went on in our panel. It's rough and repetitive...
[NEXT MEETING, MAY 13, INFO AT BOTTOM]
I was moderating the panel, and started out the introductions by talking about the Head Start Gardens programs, and how we were trying to teach pre-schoolers to care about plants, along with learning about nature. Key concepts for young gardeners: "People need plants but plants don't need people. People and plants are differents kinds of organisms, and both need microorganisms (microbes) to digest food. People need plants because they produce the oxygen, food and fiber we need to survive. People can help plants by providing them with the "5 M"s plants need: microbes, moisture, minerals, mulch and mycelium."
Kelly Hoell, a panelist, from the Good Company, mentioned she was there to present on the work her organization was doing with EWEB to clean up the McKenzie watershed.
Tiersa, a participant, mentioned she was interested in food security issues.
Judy, a participant, was also interested in food security and worked with Head Start of Lane County as a Family Advocate, where she got to see many people with little food.
Megan, a panelist, said she was to present on School Garden Progject and Willamette Farm and Food Coalition.
Christian, a participant, was interested in food and was leaving soon for a couple years in Taiwan, where traditional subsistance farming is now very rare.
Mary Ann, a participant, had recently moved from Michigan.
Kevin, a panelist, represented Full Circle Community Farm, and estimated the food he ate originated 85-90% from their own farm or close neighbors.
Natasha, a participant, worked for Organically Grown Company, was concerned about the large amounts of energy used for producing and transporting food.
Krishna, a panelist, said he was an eater, and had worked for Golden Temple. He was interested in looking below the surface at the assumptions people have about food, subsistance growing, cooperation and meetings.
Harry, a panelist, of Sunbow Farms, mentioned he had helped start many organizations, such as Tilth, which had grown to become monsters of economic scale. He works hard, for no pay, now organizing the Ten Rivers Food Web serving Lincoln, Benton and Linn counties. TRFW assessment showed 1.3 % of people in Benton county eating mostly local organic food. TRFW was interested in community contracts for growing staples such as grain and pulses (legumes). A grass seed-growing corporation, American Grass Seed, with 8000 acres, was considering going into organic food production, starting with 11 acres of red wheat for the First Alternative Coops. Problems included no local processing or storage for large commodity crops of grain and pulses. Harry said he was already seeing a lot of farmers starting to grow corn for ethanol production, and predicted this fuel production would cut into food that should be produced. He mentioned the 8000 acre grass seed farm currently spends $2 million a year on pesticides.
Amber, a participant, had an Urban Farm class at the UO. She was working on a peace conference in the future, and emphasized the need for interactions with nature to stress non-violence.
Doug B. helped organize the Relocalization Conference, was interested in the Corvallis food inventory. He urged everyone to read the Portland Peak Oil Task Force Final Report-resource depletion collection available.
Sherab, a participant and doing filming of the panel, worked with the Relief Nursery, and was interested in feeding children better.
Natalie, a late participant, worked with Kelly Hoell, another Kelly, and Jude Hobbes at the UO landscape architecture department.
1---Kelly gave a power-point presentation on The Good Company's consulting work with EWEB's projects in the McKenzie watershed to protect the source of Eugene's drinking water supply. She compared the McKenzie to the two forested and protected areas (2000 sq miles) that supply New York city with drinking water. She mentioned Karl Morgenstern as EWEB's water protection coordinator, and the development of Emergency Response Plans to deal with accidental water contamination. She also mentioned the agricultural chemical removal projects sponsored by EWEB to locate and dispose of properly potential threats to the watershed from old and unused farm stockpiles of pesticides and ag chemicals (15,000 pounds removed last year)
Kelly said EWEB supported low-impact farming in the watershed to reduce pollution. Contacts with farmers indicated the farmers felt the following barriers kept them from reducing ag chemicals-- 1- the economics of farming were poor, and the next generation were unwilling to farm. 2- labor costs were high with chemicals. 3- farmers felt they didn't have the time to learn low-impact practices. 4-farmers resented the loss of control they felt when their practices were criticized by environmentalists.
Kelly mentioned the potential problems associated with the thousands of acres of Measure 37 claims so far in the watershed. I mentioned immediate problems that Weyerhauser created, dumping a half-million pounds of pesticide active ingredients in the watershed last year.
2--Megan said she worked for organizations including NCAP, the School Garden Project and the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition. The SGP was six years old, and integrated with school's science curriculum. SGP had two part-time staff and had an office downtown.
Megan said WFFC helped low-income and WIC participants with access to local food. WFFC's initiatives included a pilot farm-to-school project in conjunction with the Crow-Applegate-Lorane School District. Children were involved with growing gardens, visiting farms, and harvesting, processing and cooking food. Chad Williams, food service director for 4-J, was determined to get more local organic food into the school menus. Megan mentioned some legislative bills that could be passed this session--one would reimburse school districts for local food, one supported farm to school connections, and one supported gardens at schools.
3-- Krishna said the keys to an abundant future would involve anticipating future events, especially the loss of fossil fuels and the consequent increased labor needs in food production. He felt it was important to emphasize that food should not be about commerce. The "I and Thou (Nature)" approach concerned the sacred nature of sharing food. He suggested the glut of large expensive RV s could be converted to mobil food processing facilities. The needs to grass-roots organize communities of cooperative activity necessary for future food production could be achieved through the internet and websites.
4-- Harry spoke of how the Corvallis city wards were organized by Ten Rivers Food Web into food centers. Equally important with nutrition is where food originates. In the work to organize and assess neighborhood food needs,TRFW considered smaller communities like Sweet Home to function as neighborhoods. In the community assesssments of need and supply, neighbors were linked by computers. Disaster preparedness was critical. People were directed to the Mormon food site to find out how much of a particular grain or staple their size family would need over a 2-year period.
Harry said farm production needed standards that went beyond USDA Organic, and that for TRFW this meant Biobalance Testing for farms that wished to supply contract commodities:
--soil pesticide residue testing by ANTECH Labs of Corbett.
--soil chemistry (& fungal) testing by American ?? Labs
--soil food web testing by Soil Foodweb, Inc.
--water and irrigation water testing for chemical residues
--nutritional testing, especially Brix testing for sugars and saccharides.
Contracted commodity staples needed processing plants for community members. Harry mentioned the $34,000 community kitchen developed by the Methodist church in Sweet Home as an example. The community of Corvallis was assessed as needing 600,000 pounds of food each day. TRFW's goal was to have 30% of food be produced locally by 2012.
5--Kevin offered the group samples of local food examples that he has brought with him, including buckskin dried beans ( he gave me a good seed stash), cayenne pepper seeds to plant ( ground black pepper substitute) and apples that had been stored without refrigeration (and that were quite tasty).
Kevin talked about the problems of people living in cities vs. the country. His family has been kept from moving to the land they've farmed for the last 11 years by zoning codes that insist $80,000 per year income be derived from the property before a house can be built on it. He spoke of the skills-building needed for self-sufficiency as practiced by his family, and of the many time-consuming tasks involved in farming, food preparation and pre-preparation. He liked doing yoga, and spoke of how correct breathing helped with tedious chores. He mentioned the problems with Measure 37 claims in his neighborhood, and the prime farm land being lost to urbanization. Kevin said his land taxes seemed quite low. He was concerned with the amount of labor needed to produce food, and with how little money selling food brought in.
AFTERNOON SESSION--PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS; everyone in the room contributed
PROBLEMS--LONG RANGE AND IMMEDIATE
--25% of US oil directed to producing food and fiber (f&f)
--imported natural gas used for synthetic fertilizer production
--inevitable fossil fuel depletion
-- more likely- spasmodic interruptions of fuel occurring soon
--food commonly viewed as a commodity, profane not sacred
--local farmers markets not year-round, 7 days/week
--population growth/urbanization destroys farmland while increasing need for f&f.
--climate change leading to water loss and emerging diseases
--antibiotic resistance in humans caused by overuse in livestock production
--arable soil destruction thlrough urbanization & desertification
--public health problems from widespread pesticide and fertilizer use
--crab bucket society; less fortunate out of luck, ignored
--stigma of farm work
--junk food cheaper than good food
--apathy of population oblivious to problems and consequences
--food needs labor to produce, process
--people live in cities, removed from production & processing f&f
--popular mindsets- assumptions, framing and metaphors
--transportation energy (food miles)
--children eat poorly, especially if poor
--emergency preparedness and response lacking
--lack of f&f = biggest Homeland Security problem
--nutritional content of food poor, declining
--food & fiber production involves violent/hostile interaction with nature
--farm housing inadequate-people kept off land by laws
--economy based on exploitation of nature
--spiritual disconnect - people and nature
--GNP concept fundamentally opposed to sustainability
--industrial model of thinking overwhelms smart advances with bureaucracy
--no commons, no popular understanding of commons concepts
--water quality deteriorating due to f&f production, urban uses
--land use laws favor urbanization, keep ag people off ag land
--gardens in yards, rooftops, ect.
--land ownership changes to bring people to country living
--reframe metaphors, reality-study George Lakoff
--everything doesn't have to be sold-food too important to be a commodity
--reduce useless work in society
--growing food and fiber = meaningful work
--food not lawns
--SF and Portland Peak Oil Resolutions
--economic incentives for learning f&f sustainable production
--organize ourselves on new models-cooperation rather than top-loaded incorporation
--adopt traditonal meeting methods of Quakers for democratic answers
--increase popular awareness of historical, alternative cultural models for f&f production
--disaster preparedness critical (Mayan calendar warns poop hits fan soon)
--must get ready for unknown future
--avoid entrapment of traditional industrial success models (don't create monsters)
--increase nutrition of food products
--support school gardens, community teaching
--excercise kindness, patience working with f&f production
--problems present opportunities
--involve churches, faith communities
--approach problems with love, compassion and education
--give up "dominion over earth" models
--convert wasted and misallocated land to f&f
--reestablish lost town commons
--teach people how to grow f&f
--city planning to include neighborhood markets
--make local leaders aware of Portland task force report and reccommendations
--explore new models of group living and growing food together
--support people already moving in right direction
--embrace sudden change concepts
--understand no technological fix will maintain status quo
--understand no gradual curve of declining fossil fuels probable
--understand fuel decline will be spasmodic
--give up delusions
--moral obligation to weaken global economy model
--live outside system
--work to actualize critical mass, reframe issues and change popular culture
--take responsibilty for personal change
--music, dance, celebration
--everyone stay positive and go within themselves to find what is theirs to do
--dachas- European model-families live in high density in winter in urban areas, in warm months live in country on 1-3 acres, producing own food.
--adopt Gross National Happiness (Bhutan model) vs GNP industrial model
--understand living soil-bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, microarthropods, etc
--put soil protection at top of human priorities
--co-production (Japanese) models of urban groups contracting with farmers
--adopt horticulture therapy as everyone's lifestyle
--understand amino acid content of vegetables(Kapuler and Gurusiddiah) and grow garden crops for complementary protein balance (CPB)
--develop menus and recipes utilizing CPB
SPECIFIC PROPOSALS----to be continued[at next meeting!]
Kevin and Doug set up a Food strategy meeting at Full Circle Farm at 4PM on Sunday, May 13th. 1225 E. Beacon Dr. Eugene 97404(off N. end of River Rd.), where the city meets the country. Timing is at Kevin's request as a busy farm owner/worker. We look forward to seeing you at the meeting!!