September 26 – Campus Farms and the Women Who Run Them
October 24 – Distribution Solutions for Regional Food Systems
Ecobuddhism: How do you feel about the Sixth Mass Extinction?
Joanna Macy: It’s happening. It’s combined with so much else that promises wholesale collapse. How do we begin to deal with the plastic in the ocean that covers areas the size of countries? What are cell phones and microwaves doing to our biological rhythms? What exactly is in our food? How do we address genetic modification of crops? We are so hooked on all of this, on every level. How do we begin to contain it?
The most immediate level of crisis concerns the Earth’s carrying capacity. Many civilizations prior to ours, starting with Mesopotamia, could no longer support themselves because they exhausted their natural resources. Carrying capacity is the level most people talk about. It’s a defining aspect of the climate crisis. How will we grow the food we need given huge variations and extremities of weather? How will we handle the natural disasters and famines that will result from a chaotic climate?
Join Gardening the Community and Undoing Racism Organizing Collective for a reading from DEEP DENIAL: The Persistence of White Supremacy in United States History and Life by David Billings, Core Trainer with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond.
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 13; 6:30 – 8:00 PM
Scibelli Enterprise Center, 1 Federal Street, Springfield, MA
Come learn, reflect and be inspired!
Now more than ever we need to address the root causes of the racism and racial superiority that permeate our country and institutions.
Refreshments will be served
Copies of the book will be for sale and all proceeds will benefit the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond
Deep Denial focuses primarily on the deeply embedded notion of white supremacy, and tells us why we remain, in the words o the author, a nation hard-wired by race. Each chapter begins with an intimate and unsparingly personal account from the author’s own life. He then lays out the historical facts, while preserving the master storyteller’s connection with the reader.
“No one speaks to racism and its cure better than David Billings, a white Southerner who has seen it all. His is a voice that needs to be heard. It is a voice with a perfect pitch.” . . . .Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Emmy and Peabody Award winning journalist and civil rights pioneer.
Event sponsors: UROC of Western MA, Arise for Social Justice, Gardening the community, PV Grows Racial Equity in the Food System Working Group
As students return to universities around the world and I return to my role as a professor of Sustainable Food and Farming, I am thinking about how to maintain the freedom of thought and action that I experience during the summer months while returning to work within a hierarchical institution of power and control. Students often wonder the same thing…….
I ask each fall – how do we maintain our sense of freedom and hope when we are faced with the sometimes oppressive university hierarchy? In 2003, I addressed this question during a graduation ceremony speech in which I claimed the key was compassion for all and knowledge of the connectedness of all things. I adapted an essay by Joanna Macy for this speech which I renamed “the Shambhala worker” (with the author’s permission of course).
As I begin a year long sabbatical leave from my teaching job at UMass, I’ve been thinking once again about what agriculture means to me. In preparation, I re-read an essay I wrote years ago called “Agriculture is a business and a conversation with the divine.”
If you click on the title, you can find the essay…..
I think when I wrote this essay I was hesitant to use the word “divine”. Today, I find it easier talk about my relationship with the divine, whether that be God, the Buddha, the Tao, some “power greater than ourselves”, or whatever way we choose to think about the non-material. Of course, agriculture has its very important “material” aspects, but it is the spiritual connection that I’m thinking about today.
In the essay I refer to Wendel Berry’s quote “eating is an agricultural act.” Berry presents a few ideas on how we may each connect with the universe or the divine through food and farming.
He suggests that we:
participate in growing food to the extent that we can,
prepare our own food,
learn the origins of the food we buy,
deal directly with a local farmer, and;
learn more about the biology, ecology and sociology of our food.
I would add to the list, composting all usable kitchen and garden “wastes”, as a necessary means of reconnecting with the non-human part of the universe.
I wonder if you agree? Can you think of other ways in which we might renew and sustain our connection with “something bigger than ourselves” through food and farming?
If you are curious…. check it out here and offer our own comments.
The UMass Student Farm provides Sustainable Food and Farming majors a real world experience in farming and marketing. One of the major buyers of our produce is the Big Y World Class Market!
Farming is growing in popularity among recent college graduates, fed by concerns over nutrition and a weak job market.
The 24-year-old new owner of Full Heart Farm in Ledyard is one of them.
Allyson Angelini, who graduated from the UMass Sustainable Food and Farming program, last week took over the 6.25-acre property at 193 Iron St. She plans to get married on the farm in about a year.
“It doesn’t take much to fall in love with farming,” said Angelini, who gave up a desire to be a magazine journalist and instead got an agricultural education degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2009. “And farming is really cool now, and that feeling is growing.”
Erin Pirro, who supervises the Outstanding Young Farmer program in Connecticut, agreed.
“Farming is becoming sexy again,” she said. “Americans have become out of touch with their food supplies. There’s a lot of passion for locally grown food.”
Farming still has a predominately older demographic, according to the U.S. Agriculture Census. For every farmer under 35, there are six over 65, the latest census said.
Angelini’s age enabled her to be considered “disadvantaged” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, making her eligible for the agency’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers loan program.
Angelini has traveled in 5.5 years of researching farming, including working at a Stonington educational facility known as Terra Firma Farm and on a pork farm in Italy. She left her job at Jones Family Farms in Shelton in September to try to secure a farm in New London County.
Encouragement and assistance from elders is encouraging more 20-somethings to go into farming, Angelini said. Bob Burns, owner of Aiki Farms in Ledyard, was recently at Full Heart Farm, using his John Deere tractor to plow and harrow a portion of the land.
“(Angelini) is a delightful person, and Aiki Farms will support them as neighbors and fellow farmers,” said Burns, who is manager of the Ledyard Farmers Market, where Angelini plans to sell some her crops including beans, carrots, potatoes, squash and tomatoes.
Her parents, Greg and Sally Angelini, have been coming to Full Heart to help. Brother Ryan Angelini, who works at Electric Boat Corp., has also been assisting with repair projects. Keith Padin, Allyson Angelini’s fiancé, is a full partner in Full Heart, and his parents recently made their first visit to the farm.
“It’s hard to start a family farm without family around,” Allyson said.
Allyson and Keith are promoting that family feeling by giving names to each of their chickens and pigs.
Locally raised meat and produce strengthens family ties, Angelini said. And — on pure taste alone — local farming competes strongly, she said.
“Once you have farm-fresh eggs and homemade bacon, you never go back,” Angelini said.
Love of animals and land is not enough for a farmer these days, Angelini said.
“Young farmers need a wide skill set,” Angelini said. “There is so much diversity in the farm habitat.”