Together we stand, Divided we fall

Campl Hill Farm, Rockland Farm Alliance

It’s not often that I’m struck with inspiration – unsuspecting and immediate.

Family farming and farming’s way of life has always felt sacred to me, even though I’m not a farmer. There have been so many statistics that demonstrate independent family farms have been declining like an endangered species. I personally experienced this growing up in what was then rural New Jersey. It would seem to me that if we can see to it as a society to care for the sustainability of endangered wildlife, we should certainly approach the epidemic of declining family farms in a more aggressive action-oriented way.

I happened across an inspiring blog post story this AM, Rockland Farm Alliance: A New Paradigm for Suburban Community Farms. What makes the story so impactful for me is the essence exists in the future, unlike many which report on the past. A Farm Alliance in the New York Metro area has taken roots, is digging in, and is establishing a progressive approach to making their land more valuable than the preceding developers and sprawl that nearly wiped out all 900 farms that existed in that region. These folks are designing the blueprint for bringing quality foods to their community and preserving a more sustainable way of fresh food accessibility. The cool thing is this mobilization of people and resources are moving mountains to succeed. So the groundwork and foundation are being laid and farmers and the community are documenting their progress so other suburban farmers can pay attention to their business model. Right on!

I consider myself very lucky to live where I do here in the state capital of Vermont. I’m surrounded by a number of progressive communities that have developed quite inter-connected networks that value community supported family farming; the type of value that places a premium on local harvests. I’ve also seen extraordinary efforts by grass roots style organizations and people working to secure a community approach to regional farming. Organizations such as the Northeast Organic Farming Association, Vermont Fresh Network, Community Involved in Sustainable Agriculture, Farm to Table and Farm to School, to name a few, are facilitating sustainable markets for local foods.

To me this is the difference between a sustainable regional farm approach and the approach being touted by Wal Mart pledging to buy more locally sourced farm foods. If our communities acknowledge the need to preserve what would otherwise be on an ‘endangered species’ list, namely sustainable family and generational farming, by placing a greater value on local foods by voting with our wallets and exercising conscious capitalism, Wal Mart’s effort to source cheap food in an unsustainable way will hopefully be the local exception and not the mainstream rule.

A quote from the article goes like this, ““This is the paradigm that people have to start accepting. If we want food to be grown sustainably in a healthy, natural way locally, if we want to remove fossil fuels from the equation as much as possible, then we cannot expect this old model of the family farmer to continue because they just can’t afford it.”, Naomi Camilleri, Rockland Farm Alliance.

Rock on Rockland!