In his book Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners, and Smart-Cookin’ Mamas: Fighting Back in an Age of Industrial Agriculture, Mark Winne introduces us to innovative "local doers" leading the charge to bring nutritious, sustainable, and affordable food to all. Heeding Emerson's call to embrace that great American virtue of self-reliance, these leaders in communities all across the country are defying the authority of the food conglomerates and taking matters into their own hands.
Today we profile two groups of "Food Rebels": the Working Lands Alliance and the National Farm to School Network.
Working Lands Alliance at their "No Farms, No Food" rally at the Connecticut State Capitol in spring 2009.
The Working Lands Alliance was formed in 1999 with the sole purpose of preserving Connecticut’s most precious natural resource – its farmland. WLA is a coalition whose supporters include more than 600 individuals and 200 businesses and organizations that include farmers, conservationists, anti-hunger groups, planners and local food enthusiasts. This coalition has joined together in an effort to halt the loss of Connecticut’s remaining farmland.
This week, the Working Lands Alliance and the CT Trustees of the Eastern States Exposition announced the winners of the 2010 Farmland Preservation Pathfinder Awards. The town of Pomfret, a community of 4,100 residents, won the Pathfinder Group Award for their preservation efforts, including a bonding resolution of $4 million for land preservation and a one-time preservation of 17 parcels totaling over 700 acres in 2009 (unprecedented in the State of Connecticut). WNPR radio host Faith Middleton is the winner of the Pathfinder Individual Award for outstanding achievement in advancing farmland preservation in the State of Connecticut. And for their determination and success in restoring an agricultural asset to their community and founding a community farm that features educational programs about farming, raises vegetables for a CSA, and makes weekly donations of product to local families in need, the Woodbridge Conservation Commission & the Board of Directors of Massaro Community Farm is the winner of the Pathfinder Education Leader Award for significant contributions in the area of educating the public about the importance of farmland preservation.
The National Farm to School Network increases access to local food and nutrition education to improve children's health, strengthen family farms, and cultivate vibrant communities. Founded in 2007, the National Farm to School Network provides training and technical assistance, information services, networking, support for policy advocacy, and media and marketing activities in all 50 states with national staff and eight Regional Lead Agencies. The National Farm to School Network envisions a nation in which Farm to School programs are an essential component of strong and just local and regional food systems, ensuring the health of all school children, farms, environment, economy and communities.
Photo by Emily Hart Roth
In May 2010, the White House Childhood Obesity Taskforce Report recommended both Farm to School and school gardens as a community based solution to childhood obesity. Specifically, recommendation 3.6 of this report states: "USDA should work to connect school meal programs to local growers and use farm to school programs, where possible, to incorporate fresher, appealing food in school meals." Michelle Obama’s Let's Move campaign website also specifically promotes community gardens, school gardens and Farm to School programs.
Farm to School is involved with Root 4 Kids, a campaign from Annie’s that calls on parents and teachers nationwide to help one million kids dig and plant new veggies harvest 2010 through harvest 2011. Annie’s will award the school with the most people who join Root 4 Kids by December 31, 2010, with their choice of a garden, a new Farm to School program or gardening supplies for one year. In addition, for every 1,000 people who join, Annie’s will contribute funds toward a garden or Farm to School program in an underprivileged school.
Read about Farm to School's social media campaign to put Child Nutrition Reauthorization back on Congress’s radar and build momentum to pass the child nutrition bill. Join the Twitter campaign to pass the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, or share the following video on Facebook, Twitter, or through email.