I love food and I really love people. Growing up in a Foreign Service family, I spent my childhood in the sun, sands, soils, and trees of the tropics. We had avocados, bananas, mangoes, and coconuts readily accessible in many of the backyards I was lucky enough to call my own, if only for a few years.
In moving back to the U.S., the fruits and vegetables in the stores just didn’t look the same. I had been used to funky colors, imperfect shapes, occasional bruises and bumps, and strong yet sweet smells. So, I purchased what seemed closest to what I had been used to – organic produce. It wasn’t as uniform in appearance, and they just smelled and looked a bit better. Though I had a sense they were different and somewhat “better”, I didn’t know much at all about the meaning behind the “USDA Certified Organic” label.
In an effort to gain some clarity, I spent the summer of 2014 WWOOFing on a permaculture farm in Andover, New Hampshire. I learned not only what the organic standard required, but also the difficulties that arise in meeting these requirements – in terms of inputs, infrastructure, the effects of scaling, and the many associated economic, physical, and social costs. I also learned that there are many farms in our country practicing sustainable and regenerative forms of agriculture. They are mostly small to midsize operations, that focus on providing sustainable and justly produced foods for their communities. They too face many social, political and fiscal barriers and obstacles.
Throughout that summer I met many young farmers who inspired me to this life of farming, though hard it is. I knew I enjoyed being in the soil and growing things for self and others, but I felt a deeper calling to support those toiling from before sunrise to well beyond sunset – for the benefit of community, for the benefit of local sustainable agriculture, for the benefit of creation.
I received my B.A. in anthropology from Sewanee: The University of the South in the Cumberland Region of Tennessee. My research there focused on intentional communities and local food systems. Since then, I’ve worked with various local and regionally-focused food organizations in North Carolina, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Vermont, who are working to develop and sustain vibrant local food economies. I am now pursuing a Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy at Vermont Law School. My hope is to continue this journey in support of our farmers, local agricultural wisdom, and the connection that comes from communities formed around food, stewardship, and faith in creation and each other.
I’d love to hear from you!
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