Local Harmony creates public space

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Owen Wormser designed this public space near the Hungry Ghost in Northampton, MA

Creating vibrant public spaces is no easy matter. Parks and other such places require a serendipitous combination of scale, public access and visual appeal to make them come alive.

As Jane Jacobs, the 20th-century journalist and urban theorist who championed city street life, wrote in her highly acclaimed “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” (1961), “The more successfully a city mingles everyday diversity of uses and users in its everyday streets, the more successfully, casually (and economically) its people thereby enliven and support well-located parks.”

Local Harmony, a Pioneer Valley-based non-profit organization, is creating an intimate stone amphitheater and medicinal garden on the small, grassy hillside owned by Smith College that runs from the Hungry Ghost Bakery to State Street in Northampton. Jacobs would undoubtedly give Local Harmony two thumbs up.

Local Harmony is the collaborative creation of Owen Wormser, owner of the Leverett-based landscape design company Abound Design, and Chris Marano, an herbalist who owns Clearpath Herbals in Montague (and teaches at the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture). Wormser said the organization’s goal is “to harness the skills of professional landscape designers, horticulturalists and gardeners to join forces with volunteers to create beautiful and accessible public spaces.”

Wormser, a landscape designer who is trained in architecture, said the idea for Local Harmony originated in a project he undertook several years ago. After launching his landscape design firm, Abound, he created the public fountain space at Cooper’s Corner store in Florence as a promotion for his fledgling business.

“I found it was really meaningful for people,” he said. “Cooper’s Corner was very successful in terms of people wanting to use the space. People are very appreciative of it. They take pride in their surroundings.”

After Cooper’s Corner, Wormser kept his eye out for other spaces.

“You need to have sympathetic property owners, and I figured that Smith College and the Hungry Ghost Bakery would be supportive,” he said.

A multi-use space

Local Harmony’s garden will have a variety of uses. It will be a place for educational activities and performances as well as a pleasant space for the public, including patrons of the bakery, which overlooks the garden.

“We want this to resonate with the public so they feel it’s theirs and that they want to be part of it,”Wormser said.

Among its functions will be that of a teaching garden; it will be composed only of medicinal plants. Marano called it a “sister garden” to a similar one at Clearpath Herbals in Montague. But the plants also have been chosen for their aesthetic appeal.

“People who don’t know anything about medicinal plants will still find it beautiful,” Wormser said. The herbal plants include commonly known varieties such as catmint (Nepeta) and coneflower (Echinacea) and others including Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorus) and Yarrow (Achillea millefolium). Taller perennials will be placed along the border to create a sense of seclusion for the garden.

In addition to the medicinal perennials, the garden will include a border of serviceberry trees (Amelanchier) along the edge where Bedford Terrace curves into State Street. Serviceberry, also known as shadbush or shadblow, is a small tree that’s well-suited to the garden. It has delicate white blossoms in spring and colorful fall foliage, it’s drought tolerant and attracts birds.

Generous hosts

According to Wormser, Smith College, which owns the property, has provided generous funding for the project.

“Smith and Roger Mosier, the college’s associate vice president of facilities management, understand that this was an extremely valuable offer and that Smith, the Hungry Ghost and the entire community will gain from it, Wormser said. “The project wouldn’t happen without Smith’s level of support.”

The Hungry Ghost Bakery also has donated to the project, and will take on a major role in maintaining the garden.

In his role as owner of Abound Design, Wormser provided the professional landscape design, while Marano of Clearpath Herbals has provided expertise and advice about suitable medicinal plants for the garden beds. Ashfield Stone donated the Goshen stone for the amphitheater and pathways. Local Harmony will provide plants and materials at cost. Wormser estimates that $40,000 has been contributed to the project in terms of materials, time and labor. He noted that this is less than half what such a project would cost on the open market.

Another cost-cutting feature of the project is that, with the exception of some of the stonework, volunteers will install it. Wormser projects that between 400 and 600 hours of work will be donated in total.

“We have a large population of younger people in the Valley who want to work, grow food and gardens,” he said.

Enclosed in color, texture

Kevin Potter, 27, was one of the volunteers who helped excavate the site when the project broke ground Oct. 17. He has worked for Abound and studies herbalism with Marano at Clearpath Herbals.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to create a high-visibility community garden,” he said. “It’s huge to have a place to plant herbs and learn about them. It’s a great resource for people. And it’s accessible by foot and by public transportation.”

Wormser and Marano say they plan to have 70 percent of the plants in place this fall, with the remainder to be planted next spring.

“Once it’s completed and the plants are growing, it will feel enclosed with color and texture,” Wormser said. “It will feel like a sanctuary.”

Wormser said he is pleased with the garden’s size and location.

“It’s just manageable. We are able to do most of the work by hand,” he said. It’s not exactly in the middle of the city; it’s a little quieter here. It’s a good spot to watch the city go by.”

Sustainable inspiration

The State Street garden is one of several Local Harmony initiatives. The non-profit recently renovated five large concrete planters in downtown Turners Falls, with help from students at the Franklin County Technical School. Local Harmony is also working with the Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst to create an extensive teaching garden that will be installed next spring at the center’s new site on the Hampshire College campus.

“We went through a great design process with Local Harmony that involved thorough thinking about all aspects of the project, including community collaboration, accessibility and the teaching function,” said Casey Beebe, community programs and special projects manager at the Hitchcock Center.

Wormser said he hopes the State Street amphitheater and garden will inspire people to launch similar projects.

“I want people to come here and say, ‘I could do that,’ because anyone can do this,” he said. “I want this to be a model that’s sustainable over time and that can work in any community.”

Inspiration is an important part of the work, he added.

“Our long-term goal is to remind people that our planet is a garden and we’ve wrecked it. But that we can rejuvenate it, make it beautiful and productive again for all living things.”

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Adam Barnard (the creator of the “Yes Farms Yes Food” slogan for the Sustainable Food and Farming program volunteered to help install the new herb garden.

Mickey Rathbun can be reached at foxglover8@gmail.com

Original Article

Care Farming in the UK – Report

If you think the Stockbridge School of Agriculture should investigate Care Farming as a possible program of study for undergraduates, please join us to discuss this question on:

Monday, December 5, 2016 at 3:30pm – 5:00pm

210 Stockbridge Hall

All are welcome!

===============================================================

By Rachel Bragg;  University of Essex    rebragg@essex.ac.uk

  1. Care farming – key facts and figures at a glance

  • How many care farms are there in the UK and where are they? 115 care farms took part in a survey in 2012, representing 66% of the 180 care farms that are currently operating in the UK. Care farms are located mainly in England but also in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; at the present time the South West, East Anglia and the West Midlands contain the largest number of care
  • What sort of farms are care farms? The majority of care farmers (78%) describe their care farm sites as farms or smallholdings and the organisational type as a farm, charity and/or company. Care farms have a mix of field enterprises and livestock, typically grazing, vegetables and woodland with chickens, sheep, pigs and cattle. Care farm size ranges from 0.4 to 648 ha – average care farm size 49

Continue reading Care Farming in the UK – Report

New Stockbridge Course on Food Waste/Recovery – STOCKSCH 197 W

STOCKSCH 197 W:  How to Recover a Truly Sustainable Food System:
A Look at Food Waste and Recovery

 Instructors:

  • Mary Bell, B.S., Local Food Waste researcher, educator, advocate
  • Angela Roell, M.Ed.

Class Meeting:  Tuesday 4:00-5:15 pm

Location:  Paige Lab Conference Room (202)

Office Hours:  By appointment

Contact Information:

Course Description:

wasteThis course is an introduction to food waste, and the impact waste has on our food system.  We will introduces the current food recovery hierarchy, and examines how consumers, producers and distributors waste food.  We will explore the environmental and social impact of food waste in our food system, and introduce social and policy initiatives employed to recover food.  Students will read, reflect and discuss the actionable steps being taken to shift our local food system’s food waste into food recovery.

Prerequisites: Limited to students in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.  Others may be added with the permission of instructors after December 1.

Required Course Materials:

A blank notebook should be brought to every class.  This notebook will be used for notes, reflections and homework assignments.  It is a vital part of your grade.  Laptops will be permitted as a note taking tool ONLY if students elect to create a digital journal.

There will be no formal text book for this course, readings will be distributed via .pdf

Grading:

Project Percentage
Pre-Course Self Assessment 10.00%
Reflection Journal:

·       Interview Project

·       Case Study Notes

·       Weekly Homework

·       Technology Tools

40.00%
Case Study Presentation 40.00%
Post-Course Self Reflection 10.00%

Course Schedule:

Week 1, 1/24/17, Course Introduction

In Class:

Review Syllabus

Based on current knowledge and assumptions students will build EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy in small groups

Self-Assessment Survey & Learning Styles Quiz

  • Students will complete initial self-assessment survey
  • Students will complete a learning style quiz:

http://www.learning-styles-online.com/inventory/

Homework:

Read:

  • American Wasteland, by Jonathan Bloom: Chapter 4, A Culture of Waste:  Our Fall from Thrift and Our Imminent Return (pg 59-66)
  • Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill, by Dana Gunders, Natural Resources Defense Council (pg 1-6)

Do:

  • Use your phone’s camera to document your own food waste. In one week take one photograph per day the food that you throw out, discard, spoilage, compost, etc.  Share photos via UMass UDRIVE

Week 2, 1/31/17, How Does Food Waste Impact the Food System

In Class:

A definition and discussion of the EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy

  • EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy and Three Reasons for a Growing Interest in Food Loss, Economic Research Service, USDA

Review and discuss our class’s cumulative weekly food waste

Homework:

Read:

  • American Wasteland, by Jonathan Bloom: Chapter 5, American Farms:  Growing Waste, Selling Perfection
  • Causes of Food Loss and Waste at the Farm, Farm-to-Retail, Retail, and Consumer Levels, Economic Research Service, USDA

Do:

  • Reflect on the Food Recovery Hierarchy, how is it different than you assumed? How is it similar?   

Week 3, 2/7/17, Why is there Food Waste?

In Class:

Discuss readings from American Wasteland and the Economic Research Service

Think/Pair/Share Activity

Homework:

Read/Do:

  • Review the website: http://www.leanpath.com/
  • Read one case study from the “case study” tab
    • How is Lean Path using technology to address food waste and recovery?
      • Record your thoughts in reflection journal

 

Week 4, 2/14/17, The Gap- Expiration Dates and Labeling

In Class:

Facilitated discussion with student questions

Experiential Activity

Case Study Overview and Distribution

Homework:

Review assigned Case Study, record brainstorm and any actionable steps in your journal

Week 5, 2/21, The Value of Food vs. The Cost of Waste

In Class:

Interview Questions Brainstorm

Discussion about Farm-Based Food Waste

Homework:

Read:

  • Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty by Mark Winne: Chapter 7:  Growing Obese and Diabetic; Going Organic and Local

Do:

  • Interview Questions Project published/shared to begin

Week 6, 2/28, Food Insecurity and Nutrition

In Class:

An introduction to food insecurity with facilitated discussion and student questions

Homework:

Read:

  • How Food Made History by BW Higman: Chapter Seven: Cooking, Class, and Consumption

Do:

Week 7, 3/7, Gleaning as a Food Recovery Tool

In Class:

Facilitated discussion with student questions

In-Class reading: Farmers Help Fight Food Waste by Donating Wholesome Food

http://blogs.usda.gov/2015/04/03/farmers-help-fight-food-waste_by-donating-wholesome-food/

Homework:

Read:

Do:

  • Meet with your Case Study team, record brainstorm and actionable steps in your reflection journal

Week 8, Spring Break

 

Week 9, 3/21, Redirecting Food Waste: Farm-Based Food Recovery

In Class:

Panel Discussion, guests TBD

Homework:

Read:

Do:

  • How is Food Donation Connection using technology to address food waste? How could they do better?
    • Record your thoughts in reflection journal, 1-2 pages

Week 10, 3/28, Creative Community Initiatives Addressing Food Insecurity

In Class:

How is food insecurity being addressed in our community?

Facilitated discussion with student questions

Facilitated review of results found in Interview Questions Project

Homework:

Read:

  • Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty by Mark Winne: Chapter 9:  Public Policy; Food for the People

Week 11, 4/4, Bill Emerson Food Donation Act

In Class:

Presentation by Mary Bell

Facilitated discussion with student questions

Homework:

Read:

Do:

  • Write about two new things you learned from the Mass Local Food Action Plan
    • How are these ideas actionable in your local or regional food system?
    • Are any of these ideas being implemented in our local food shed?

Week 12, 4/11, Mass Local Food Action Plan

In Class:

Discuss Mass Local Food Action Plan

Think/Pair/Share Activity  

Homework:

Review:

  • Legal Fact Sheet for Massachusetts Food Donation: Liability Protections, Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, July 2015
  • Federal enhanced – Tax Deduction for Food Donation – a legal guide, Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, April 2016

Week 13, Patriots Day: Monday Schedule

 Week 14, 4/25, Self Assessment and Course Review

In Class:

Students will complete a final self assessment

Students will complete an exit survey  

Homework:

Meet with group to work on final presentations

Week 15 & 16, 5/2-5/9, Final Presentations

In Class:

Final Presentations of Case Studies

Attendance at all presentations is mandatory to receive a passing grade

Assignments

Project Description Due Date
Case Studies in Food Recovery

◦   A Perfect Loop – Food Recovery in San Diego, BioCycle 2013

◦   The Good Food Fight for Good Samaritans: The History of Alleviating Liability and Equalizing Tax Incentives for Food Donors, Stacey H.Van Zuiden- 2012 Drake University

◦   3rd Case Study TBD

1.     Students will review one of three case studies of a food recovery project in our local/regional food system assigned by instructors

2.     Case studies are designed to address our three themes: farm/environmental impact, food security/food justice, and food policy

3.     Students will record main ideas from the reading in their reflection journal

4.     Students will generate a list of 3-5 ideas for addressing the thematic nature of the case study and record them in the reflection journal

5.     Students will work in small groups assigned by instructors

6.     Using case studies students will generate an actionable idea for addressing food waste and recovery at a campus, local or regional level

7.     Students will prepare a presentation of their main ideas and actionable steps to address food waste using Prezi or Power Point

5/2/17

5/9/17

Interview Project 1.     As a class students will compile interview questions

2.     Instructors will generate a survey based on student input and distribute digitally via Google Forms

3.     Students will interview 3 people in their communities about their food system experience: one consumer, one producer, one retailer or distributor

4.     Students will reflect on their findings in reflection journal

5.     Findings will be shared in class and discussed

03/28/17
Reflection Journal 1.     All weekly reflections and writing assignments MUST be kept in one reflection journal

2.     The journal will be collected on the last day of class

04/25/17

Course Policies

  1. The success of this course depends on student participation. Everyone is expected to arrive on time, ready to comment, answer questions, and actively contribute.  Cell phones, iPads, etc should be turned off during class unless you have requested accommodations from the instructor prior to class. Please bring all reading materials to class.  Laptops will be permitted as a note taking tool ONLY if students elect to create a digital journal.
  2. Written work is to be handed in on time. Late work will not be accepted.  We will make exceptions to this rule only in the case of serious emergency, and only if contacted via phone or email within 24 hours of missing the scheduled deadline.
  3. Students are responsible for course information sent to their UMass email accounts. We will respond to your email within 24 hours, please plan accordingly.
  4. Office hours will be by appointment, if a question or concerns arises
  5. Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Use care in written work to avoid the appearance of cheating/plagiarism.  Please discuss questions with us if you have a concern.
  6. If you are in need of learning accommodations, please come speak with one of us at the beginning of the semester so we can guarantee your needs are fully met throughout the course.   

Food Systems Work by UMass Students

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While it is true that the Stockbridge School of Agriculture has been offering courses in food production and marketing since the beginning, our students today are engaged in many learning activities that include farming but also focus on necessary changes to the larger food system.

Here are a few of the things Stockbridge and other UMass students have been up to in October….

  • UMass Permaculture gleaned 900 lbs. of butternut squash from Plainville Farm in Hadley.  Thanks to Stockbridge Alum Xochi Salazar and her team for providing food to a  local shelter, the Student Farmer’s Market, and “Pledge” a program supporting sustainability, the use of “ugly” vegetables, and less food waste!

squash

  • Our Stockbridge Community Food Systems and our Food Justice and Policy classes collaborated with Nuestras Raices to provide high school students with the tools to conduct a school food survey at Paulo Freire Social Justice High School, as well as a community visioning session about a new community garden;  and designed production tracking systems with urban farmers.  Here are a few of the high school students during a visioning session.  Thanks so much to Stockbridge instructor Catherine Sands for connecting our UMass students to students in Holyoke!

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  • The SERSI student RSO is interested in helping with the Food Recovery Network and will focus future efforts in this direction.  Here are some of the SERSI members from last year. We look forward to see what 2016-17 will bring!

sersi

eatit

  • The UMass School of Public Policy and the Amherst Survival Centter is sponsoring an event with Congressman McGovern on  Oct. 26 Food Insecurity Event.    Stockbridge students plan to attend. 
  • The Food for All Garden at the Agricultural Learning Center is having a FALL HARVEST CELEBRATION preceded by GARLIC PLANTING on Friday, October 28th @ 4:30pm (garlic plant) and 5:30 is our Community Potluck.  Bring a food or non-alcoholic drink to share or just come hungry.  Hope you can join us!

foodforall

AND… ANNOUNCING:

  • Stockbridge will offer a one credit seminar in the spring titled How to Recover a Truly Sustainable Food System – A Look at Food Waste and Recovery, on Tuesday afternoons at 4:00-5:15pm.  Thanks to Mary Bell and Angela Roell who will be the instructors!

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Think U.S. Agriculture Will End World Hunger? Think Again.

By Anne Weir Schechinger, Senior Analyst, Economics and Craig Cox, Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources

The United Nations has forecast that world food production must double to feed 9 billion people by 2050. That assertion has become a relentless talking point in the growing debate over the environmental, health and social consequences of American agriculture.

America’s farmers, we are told, must double their production of meat products and grains to “feed the world.” Otherwise, people will go hungry.

Agribusinesses such as Monsanto sometimes cite the so-called “moral imperative” to feed a hungry world in order to defend the status-quo farm policy and deflect attention from the destruction that “modern” agriculture is inflicting on the environment and human health.

The real experts know better. Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization argues instead that the current conditions of “modern” agriculture are “no longer acceptable.”

The key to ending world hunger while protecting the environment is to help small farmers in the developing world increase their productivity and income, and to promote “agro-ecology” everywhere, including in the U.S.

Poverty is the root cause of hunger, not too few exports of U.S. wheat, corn, soybeans and meat. American exports go to people who can afford to buy them.

 

 

American farmers are helping meet growing demand from millions of people in developed and developing nations who can afford better, or at least more diversified diets. This is a welcome business opportunity for our farmers, but those exports aren’t going to the countries where hunger is chronic.

  • 86 percent of the value of U.S. agricultural exports last year went to 20 destinations with low numbers of hungry citizens and human development scores that are medium, high or very high, according to the U.N. Development Program.
  • Only half of one percent of U.S. agricultural exports, calculated according to their value, went to a group of 19 countries that includes Haiti, Yemen and Ethiopia. These are nations with high or very high levels of undernourishment, measured by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

Even the hungriest countries produce most of their own food. Overall, in 2013, American farmers contributed only 2.3 percent of the food supply for the 19 most undernourished countries through food exports and aid.

We won’t end world hunger by doubling production in the United States while putting our nation’s environment and health at risk. We can and must help end world hunger by helping people in the hungriest countries do a better job of feeding themselves and ensuring that their farmers make a good living.

Reducing poverty, increasing income for women, providing nutrition education, improving infrastructure like roads and markets to increase access to food, and ceasing wars and conflict could all help undernourished populations better feed themselves.


There is a small farm, community based alternative to the dominant vision of industrial agriculture feeding the world.  Come to learn and grow with us in the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture!

The Food We Don’t Eat

American food writer MFK Fisher once said, “First we eat, then we do everything else.”  Food is central to so much in our lives – family, health and community. But what about the food we don’t eat?

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Eight percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions can be ascribed to food loss and waste. Photo by jbloom/Flickr

More than a billion tons of food is never consumed by people; that’s equivalent to one-third of all food the world produces.  What many people may not know is that one in nine people on earth don’t have enough food to lead an active life, or that food loss and waste costs the global economy $940 billion each year, an amount close to what the entire UK government will spend in 2016.

They may also not know the incredible effect food loss and waste has on the environment.  Eight percent of the greenhouse gases heating the planet are caused by food loss and waste. At the same time, food that’s harvested but lost or wasted uses 25 percent of water used in agriculture and requires cropland the size of China to be grown. What an incredibly inefficient use of precious natural resources.

When you look at the kind of impact food loss and waste has on our environment, economy and society, it’s clear why the United Nations included it among the most urgent global challenges the Sustainable Development Goals would address. Target 12.3 [2] of the goals calls for nations to “halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses” by 2030. It’s certainly an ambitious challenge, but it is also one that’s achievable.

This week is Climate Week, an opportunity to take stock of where we are on critical environmental issues like food loss and waste. A new report [3] on behalf of Champions 12.3 [4] – a unique coalition of leaders across government, business and civil society who are dedicated to achieving Target 12.3 – assesses our progress so far.

The report details a number of notable steps that have happened around the world, including national food loss and waste reduction targets established in the United States and in countries across the European Union and African Union.

It also highlights efforts to help governments and companies measure food loss and waste, such as the FLW Standard [5] announced in June, and new funding like the Danish government’s subsidy program and The Rockefeller Foundation’s Yieldwise [6], a $130 million investment toward practical approaches to reducing food loss and waste in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, the United States and Europe. There have also been advances in policies as well as education efforts like the Save the Food [7] campaign to raise awareness of food loss and waste.

The progress is promising. But the report also notes that the action does not yet match the scale of the problem, and much more work is needed worldwide if we are to successfully meet Target 12.3 in just 14 short years.

Why the “food movement” is unstoppable..

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Excerpted from “Why the food movement is unstoppable.”

The direction of the food movement

…there are profound reasons why the food movement is succeeding and growing.

This analysis suggests that the food movement, compared to other great social movements of the 20th Century (such as the labour, environment, civil rights, climate and feminist movements), has many of their strengths but not their weaknesses.

Further, the food movement is unexpectedly radical on account of having a distinct philosophy. This philosophy is fundamentally unique in human history and is the underlying explanation for the explosion of the food movement.

Like any significant novel philosophy, that of the food movement challenges the dominant thought patterns of its day and threatens the political and economic structures built on them. Specifically, the food movement’s philosophy exposes longstanding weaknesses in the ideas underpinning Western political establishments. In the simplest terms possible, the opposite of neoliberal ideology is not communism or socialism, it is the food movement.

The reason is that, unlike other systems of thought, food movement philosophy is based on a biological understanding of the world. While neoliberalism and socialism are ideologies, the food movement is concerned with erasing (at least so far as is possible) all ideologies because all ideologies are, at bottom, impediments to an accurate understanding of the world and the universe.

By replacing them with an understanding based on pure biology, the food movement is therefore in a position to supply what our society lacks: mechanisms to align human needs with the needs of ecosystems and habitats.

The philosophy of the food movement goes even further, by recognising that our planetary problems and our social problems are really the same problem. The food movement represents the beginnings of a historic ecological and social shift that will transform our relationships with each other and with the natural world.

1) The food movement is a leaderless movement

The first important piece of the food puzzle is to note that the food movement has no formal leaders. Its most famous members are individuals. Frances Moore Lappé, Joel Salatin, José Bové, Vandana Shiva, Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan, Jamie Oliver, and many others, are leaders only in the sense of being thought-leaders. Unlike most leaders, including of the environment movement, or the labour movement, or the climate movement, they have all attained visibility through popular acclaim and respect for their personal deeds, their writings, or their insights. Not one of them leads in any of the conventional senses of setting goals, giving orders, deciding tactics, or standing for high office. They are neither bureaucrats nor power-brokers, but leaders in the Confucian sense of being examples and inspirations. It is a remarkable and unprecedented characteristic that the food movement is a social movement that is organic and anarchic. This not to argue it is unstructured, far from it. Rather, the food movement is self-organised. It is a food swarm and absence of formal leadership is not a sign of weakness but of strength.

2) The food movement is a grassroots movement

A second and complementary piece of the puzzle is that the food movement is far more inclusive than other social movements. It is composed of the urban and the rural, the rich and the poor, of amateurs and experts, of home cooks and celebrity chefs, farmers and gardeners, parents and writers, the employed and the unemployed. Essentially anyone, in any walk of life, can contribute, learn or benefit. Most do all three. Importantly too, just about any skill level or contribution can often be accommodated. To take just one example, in how many other social movements can a 14-year-old make an international splash?

This inclusiveness has various aspects that contribute significantly to its success. The first of these is that, unlike many protests, there is no upper limit to membership of the food movement. It is not defined in opposition to anything – it would include the whole world if it could – and so there is no essential sense in which it is exclusive. Exclusivity is often the Achilles heel of social movements, but though its opponents have tried to label it as elitist, for good reasons they have not succeeded. Granted, Prince Charles is a very enthusiastic member, but so too are rappers from Oakland, the landless peasant movement of Brazil, the instigators of the Mexican soda tax and the urban agriculture movements of Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland. Such groups are neither elite nor elitist. A better analysis would conclude that anyone can find space under its broad umbrella because the food movement does not discriminate on any grounds, least of all class. It is beyond grassroots. People see what they want in it because it is for everyone.

The second aspect of its inclusivity is that the food movement has barriers to entry that are low or non-existent. This is an important reason it has grown rapidly. These porous boundaries make the food movement unusually hard to define, however, leading some people to mistakenly conclude it is non-existent.

3) The food movement is international

A third unconventional attribute of the food movement is to be international and multilingual. In each locality it assumes different forms. The Campaign for Real Ale, Via Campesina, the Zapatistas, Slow Food and Europe’s anti-GMO movement are very different, but instead of competing or quarreling, there are remarkable overlaps of purpose and vision between the parts. This was on show at last winter’s British Oxford Real Farming Conference where food producers and good food advocates from all over the world shared stages and perspectives and the effect was to complement and inspire each other.

4) The food movement is low-budget

The fourth distinguishing characteristic of the food movement is that it has little money behind it. It might seem natural for “social movements” to be unfunded but it is in fact very rare. The climate movement has Tom Steyer, the Tea Party has the Koch brothers, Adolf Hitler’s car, chauffeur, private secretary, and of course his blackshirts, were funded by Fritz Thyssen, Henry Ford, and some of the wealthiest people in Germany. Even the labour and environment movements have dues or wealthy backers. The food movement therefore is highly unusual in owing little to philanthropic foundations or billionaire backers. Instead, it consists overwhelmingly of amateurs, individuals and small groups and whatever money they possess has followed and not led them. This is yet another powerful indication that the food movement is spontaneous, vigorous and internally driven.

5) A movement of many values

Most social movements are organised around core values: civil rights, social equality or respect for nature are common ones. What is unique about the food movement is that it has multiple values. They include human health concerns, animal welfare, agricultural sustainability, ecological sustainability, food justice and political empowerment, but even this list does not adequately capture the range of its concerns. It is a movement with many component parts.

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Join the Food Movement and create a career as a Sustainable Food and Farming major in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMass Amherst.