“I think the only solution to this is to know the person producing your food. Know your farmer.” – Chuck Currie (speaking about the problem of misleading organic certifications)
“Find a way to get to the farmer, rather than have the farmer come to you.” – Pat Stewart
“I have been a registered lobbyist for about a year, and I am astonished by how receptive senators and representatives are to their constituents. It doesn’t take that many people to move them on an issue […] Learn about and advocate for legislation related to agriculture in Massachusetts.” – Dan Bensonoff
This past Saturday, The Labor Guild hosted a panel as part of the teach-ins for the Boston People’s Climate Mobilization. The topic was Agricultural Justice: From Farm to Table, and was clearly of interest to those who attended—the space was packed, and by the end it was standing room only!
The panel was convened and moderated by Guild board member Lisa Field, Associate Director- Legislative Division, Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA). Lisa has a personal connection to the topic from her experience living on the Soule Homestead, which creates educational opportunities for students in the surrounding areas to learn about farming. The panel featured three awesome farmers: Pat Stewart, from Surfing Goat Soap and Hames & Axle Farm in Ashburnham, MA; Chuck Currie, from Freedom Food Farm in Raynham, MA; and Dan Bensonoff, from the Northeast Organic Farming Association.
The event began with Pat, Chuck, and Dan each speaking about their farms and the work they do (if you want to know more, check out the websites linked above!). After these introductions, they led an engaging conversation about how to address key issues in our society. They fielded questions on organic certification; the most sustainable ways to purchase fresh food; organizations working for agricultural justice in the Commonwealth, and more.
Each panelist shared their own perspective on why it is so important for people to purchase food from local farms and eat produce that is in season. They also discussed the preference for CSAs (community supported agriculture, or farm shares as they’re sometimes called) over Farmer’s Markets because the former places far less strain on farmers and produces less waste. The panel ended with a discussion on the importance of supporting town agricultural commissions and legislation intended to support and encourage local farming.
To learn more about these issues, check out the links above. Also take a look at some photos from the day, below. Many thanks to the Boston People’s Climate Mobilization and SEIU 32 BJ for hosting this teach-in, to Lisa for convening the panel, and to our stellar panelists!