Posted on April 22, 2015
Kellogg Foundation Conference on Creating Food Hubs: Day 1
This week, Scott is out in Kentucky for the Kellogg Foundation Conference on Creating Food Hubs. He will be sharing tidbits he learns from each of the 3 days of this conference.
Today was jam-packed with information. First off, let’s go over what a food hub is by definition. “A regional food hub is a business or org that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.”
I’ll go more in detail about the facts of food hubs at whatnot in another post. Today a key thing to me was the people I had the opportunity to meet and talk with *both blurrily featured in this panel picture below.
At breakfast, I spoke with a Native American man named Ken from New Mexico who shared about the plight of the people on the reservation he lives on. 400 acres of farm-able land, only 35 or so used. Of those 35, only 6 are used for traditional growing. The other 29 are used to grow alfalfa, which will then be sold for cattle feed. Ken shared that obesity, diabetes, and other diseases are just so common in his people. He also shared that for the past few generations, his people have not been able to produce their own foods to survive; many survive off the fast food nearby, or unhealthy options that they are stuck with because the closest markets with healthy foods are an hour or so drive away. He shared, “I remember when I was younger, my mother told me about how she had to take the wagon to the nearest city, and it would take her two days to get there and buy healthy supplies, and two days to get back.”
Ken is doing great work trying t reconnect his people with their land. A speaker the night before had said, “We need to stop trying to become part of nature…we ARE nature.” This quote stuck out for Ken and I felt it echo in many of the conversations I have heard this entire day.
Another person I met that had a profound impact on me was Alejandro. Alejandro is Guatemalan, and helps run a nonprofit for Latino farmers in Oregon. Of all the new people I have met at this conference, I feel like I have connected the most with Alejandro. Partly because we both have similar beliefs in social justice and food justice, but also partly because on the first day, we both looked around and called it as it is; Latino and Asian farmers were not really represented at this conference.
Alejandro told me something that really stuck. He said “we need to stop calling our farmers ‘small farmers’…they are simply farmers like everyone else, just with smaller plots of land.” I really appreciated this because it’s such a simple point that means so much more. Why do we call the farmers we work with in Fresno, small farmers? Do they not work the land the same, or maybe even better, than other farmers with larger acres of land? I think to our CSA farmers, and it fills me with great pride that we are able to work with folks who care so much about the land, the produce, and the community.