Know Your Farmer
Location: River Ridge Ranch, Ames, Iowa
Featuring: The Lexicon of Sustainability's First Project Localize class: Will, Paul, Kim, Bryan, Kaydee, Kait, Logan, Michael, Brittany, Drayke, and Elena
When 75 students at Iowa’s Ames High School wanted to see where their food came from, they ended up documenting an entire local food system (with their teacher’s help).
Mike Todd teaches Environmental Science, Physics, and Biology at Ames High School. His innovative teaching methods engage his students in student-driven, community-based Environmental Impact Projects like Project Localize’s “Localizer Toolkit,” which shows students how photography and words can help a community learn more about the people and principles behind the food they eat.
To Know Your Farmer is to know the people who make the choices about production methods and labor practices – all of which define their own value system. When you buy food, you’re buying these values. Their values.
Location: Provident Organic Farm, Bivalve, Maryland
Featuring: Farmer Jay Martin
Farmers are willing to share their ideas and insights, but the current processes and standards behind organic certification are now in place primarily to facilitate the growth of organics as an industry. Such certification stifles innovation by the very farmers who initiated the movement.
How did Jay Martin end up with an organic farm that isn’t certified organic? Three reasons: financial, philosophical, and personal. Jay Martin uses Face Certification as his standard. The direct contact between farmers and consumers creates an environment of trust and faith. As Jay Martin says, “People don’t need to read a piece of paper or a certification to judge what produce they’re buying. All they have to do is look me in the eye.” This motto is reflective of the Japanese word teikei. In English, teikei means “food with a farmers face on it.”
Featuring: Farmer Anne
As the face of agriculture changes and smaller family run farms return, more and more women are coming into agriculture as their life’s work. Anne and her husband are part of the “new face of farming”, meaning they are new to the area and have no land history here (though they are the fourth generation of farmers on the land they cultivate.
Anne says: “Each day that I am in the field, I know that I am just one woman farmer of thousands all over the world sowing seed, irrigating, cultivating crops, harvesting and providing food to the community.” Women were at the forefront of Agriculture before the Green Revolution and the onset of large scale industrial agriculture. For Anne, there is nothing more satisfying, or challenging, than growing food for her farm’s families. The hardest challenges facing Anne are land and irrigation water accessibility. As cities continue to overtake agricultural lands, the price of good farm land skyrockets out of the farmer’s price range. Agricultural water and lands need to be protected from urban sprawl in order for our communities to have viable sources of local food.