Greenhorns: 50 dispatches from the New Farmers’ Movement
Edited by Zoë Ida Bradbury, Severine von Tscharner Fleming and Paula Manalo
Published by Storey Publishing
A few years ago, a young graduate and aspiring farmer with the spectacular name of Severine von Tscharner Fleming began profiling new American farmers. What began as a documentary film project has, in the ensuing years, grown into a thriving network with the mission of recruiting, promoting and supporting a new generation of agrarians. Drawing on the diversity of their members, the Greenhorns network utilises “avant-garde programming, video, audio, web content, publications, events, and art projects that increase the odds for success and enhance the profile and social lives of America’s young farmers.”
North America, like Australia, has an aging farming population. As a majority of farmers drift into their late 50s and early 60s, the absence of a new generation of aspiring farmers taking on the responsibility of food production has furrowed brows in farmers’ organisations for some years. The recruitment of “millions of rough and ready protagonists of place to care for our ecosystems and serve our country healthy food”, a “critical meeting of minds, bodies, and land”, forms the foundation for the Greenhorns work, it is not just a new crop of farmers they seek. Rather, it is the transformation of the food system into one that nourishes communities through a model of farming that is ecologically sound, locally-focussed and small(er)-scale.
Newly planted seedlings in the salvaged vegie bed.
Living in a rented house, we’ve been slowly, subtly expanding the reach of our potted garden over the under-utilised spaces of the strata. Sophie recently spotted a broken produce crate in hard rubbish, and we thought it was time to set-up a herb and leafies bed in a sunny corner.
In the inner southern suburbs of Adelaide, a small group of permaculturalists have been gathering to experiment with artisanal food skills. From cheese-making to sourdough, they’ve been exploring and sharing the skills that make good food. To herald the end of summer, we sourced 180kg of tomatoes from local farmer’s markets and had a go at making passata. A 15-hour food preservation epic, our kitchens are now lined with long-necks filled with crushed tomatoes. This film is a little something I shot amid the spraying tomatoes and bubbling barrels.
An experiment in marking time: the year of two houses, two bikes and four pumpkins, illustration by Joel.
Ever since reading Jay Griffith’s book Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time, I’ve been fascinated by the extent to which our relationship and understanding of time is culturally constructed. Our system of numbering off the days and years and months and weeks, and splitting the year into four neat quarters bears little relationship to the reality of their origins: the cycles of the moon, the changing of the seasons.
This is an edited version of a presentation Joel gave at the City of Unley’s Sustainable Garden Design seminar in late 2010.
New and creative approaches to growing food are germinating in communities all over the world. These approaches demonstrate that the benefits of sustainable food growing can reach far beyond the act of gardening. Some build community or aim to improve health, while others address issues of food security or offer strategies for building sustainable local economies, and some are a combination of all of these. In many cities, grassroots food projects are strengthened by the support of visionary local governments.
Many important community food initiatives, like food co-ops, farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture and school and community gardens are now familiar and are established as important components of the movement for local, community-based food. However in backyards and street-corners other, sometimes less visible, strategies are also contributing to the transformation of our cities.
With the coldest Adelaide winter in years, now is the time to get quilting. Friends of the Earth is making a quilt to illustrate and celebrate the many visions of a just and sustainable food system, and we would love your contribution!
Like a landscape that feeds its community from a patchwork of farms and wild places, the quilt highlights the diversity of ideas, strategies and projects that make up a sustainable food system, and when completed will be exhibited, used to teach about the food system we need, and may even be entered in the Royal Adelaide Show!
Wherever you are, we invite you to embroider, print, patch, appliqué, sew, stitch your vision for a just and sustainable food system. It might be:
- something specific (like worm farms, or compost bins, or fruit trees planted in the streets, or rooftop gardens, or farmers’ markets, or heirloom seeds);
- or general (like stronger communities, or thriving local economies, or diverse polycultural farms, or food sovereignty, or fair trade);
- or a project you’re already involved with.
Use pictures, use words, use whatever you like (provided it can all be sewn together in the end!
Squares should be 30cm x 30 cm, with a 3 cm border all the way around (so the area for your image is 24 x 24 cm). Feel free to use your own fabric, or contact us if you would like to be sent fabric to get you started.
Submissions are due Friday 20 January 2011, but sooner is always welcome. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a message at (08) 8211 6872 to register your interest.