I recently received the following email from my CSA farmer, Sarahlee Lawrence, who was attending the Slow Food international conference in Italy. It was such a beautiful email filled with fascinating information, I asked her if I could share it on the blog, and she graciously agreed!
Dear Friends of Rainshadow,
Tall and I have been at an incredible event in Italy called Terre Madre and Salone del Gusto. This is an international conference of Slow Food with 2000 farmers from 120 countries plus many chefs, educators, and food activists. We were delegates for the United States and our work was to share with others from around the world to find our common ground, but to also share in similar troubles and solutions. For more information please visit: http://www.slowfood.com/ Please check out some pictures on the Rainshadow Organics Facebook page.
We are now on a small diverse farm in the foothills of the Italian Alps with a farmer who visited our farm three years ago. Today Tall put new shoes on one of their horses, and I weeded, spread compost, harvested for CSA, and planted garlic. Its all very familiar. I now find myself reflecting on the past week at the conference…
To get a feel for it, you have to imagine the biggest farmer’s market in four olympic stadiums with thousands of people selling and tasting all kinds of meats, and oils, and spices, and breads, and nuts, and fruits, and liquors, and cheeses, and salts, and candies, and gelatos, and coffees, and fish, and vegetables…. People from every continent, and so many countries, the features in their faces so true to their places. Its hot and its loud and it tastes good.
At the same time there are talks going on in big conference halls… translated into many languages, everyone wearing headphones. The issues are many… food security, seed saving, GMO, food waste, networking, soil degredation
, small farmer support, urban farming, land grabbing, global empowerment of rural populations and youth education around local food. People like Carlo Patrini, the founder of Slow Food, spoke with Alice Waters and Vandana Shiva as well as the U.N. Ambasador of Agriculture. The United Nations has decided that 2014 will be the international year of family agriculture… to officially assess its role in feeding the growing world. Genetic modification continues to be a horror in places like India, where 270,000 cotton farmers have committed suicide due to debt to Monsanto. Vandana Shiva responds with Gardens of Hope for widows and orphans. On a lighter note, in Australia, the government supports the Kitchen Garden Foundation to bring school garden education to 10% of the public schools in the country.
Slow Food stands for the good, clean, fair, food for all: foods that change the world. As we approach the brink of life as we know it on this earth, Carlo Patrini says that it will be the old people, the women, the indiginous, and the farmers, who will show us the way back. Tall and I reflect on how we help you all in Central Oregon, with our commitment to farming and the stewardship of our land.
We continue to be commited to heriloom and heritage varieties of vegetables and animals. We save our seeds and breed our own. We tend to our bees and our native desert habitat as an important element of our farm. We continue to feed 75 families and are shooting for 100 next year. We have launched our first year-round, full-diet CSA where 10 brave families have committed to eating local food through the winter, including meats, fresh flour, winter greens from the greenhouse as well as stored roots from the cellar. We support COIC and the Central Oregon Buy Fresh Buy Local Campaign and Locavore in the building of a food hub where we, and our fellow farmers, can reach more people with good, local, organic, foods. We are incredibly inspired and brainstorming about how to better manage our farm and our relationship with all of you.
As we talked to farmers from around the world, the same joys, needs, and struggles resound. No matter if you are from Venezuela or India or Australia or Italy, proccessed foods push for the plate through unrelenting media campaigns and the loss of food culture. Fewer and fewer people know how to cook or have time to. No one knows what is seasonal or how to put food by for winter. Every farmer wants families to commit to the farm, to try to eat locally and seasonally. I want all of you who commit to Rainshadow to know that your willingness to take the adventure, with your kids, is saving the world one bite at a time. You are my rocket fuel to become a better farmer and to provide more diverse and better food for our community every day of the year.