by Rebecca Cecere Seward
You are all enlightened eaters. You may not realize this, or consider the contribution you make as CSA members anything earth-shattering, but you are one of the comparatively few Americans supporting local organic agriculture. According to the Organic Consumers’ Association, only two percent of the food industry is organic, and, of that, small organic farms make up a much smaller percentage. While the trend is increasing: organic food is the fastest growing segment of the food industry according the OCA, organic eaters are in the minority.
Training farmers to fill this increasing demand is at the core of the current mission of the Ecosystem Farm, but over the last year we have been steadily increasing the consumer education element of our mission. Whether visitors come to the on-farm market, volunteer with us for one of our volunteer days, or come to us as schoolchildren for a tour, we have been spreading the good word about organic farming and eating. Increasing this audience is on the menu for next year’s programs around the Ecosystem Farm, with a targeted plan in the works currently, and below are some of the reasons why…
Food is a great unifier. We all have memories, stories, emotions around food. And yet how many times do we eat junk food or food low in nutrients because we need to “fill up.” As if we are putting gasoline in our engines! Food is so much more than something to just shovel in, and if we continue to demonstrate the “behind the scenes” value of food through growing vegetables, maybe we can show people the work and intention at the heart of good food.
Getting dirty is good for us. It seems that the American legacy is to get further and further from outdoor work. I personally am a bit in awe of my friends who can work on the computer all day, as I get antsy in an office for too long. Balancing our indoor and outdoor lives can be easily done with a good day on the farm, volunteering to get dirty doing farmwork! Being in a place through its seasonal changes increases our connection to that place, which is good for our hearts.
Increasing people’s awareness and familiarity of organic food creates a market for future farmers. While we have done some good and important work towards educating our future sustainable growers, by continuing to demonstrate on the farm we can provide them with a customer base!
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