On Monday evening, Mary and I attended the Local Harvest Gala at the Palace Ballroom to celebrate the Local Food Action Initiative and to help raise funds for BALLE Seattle.
The food, catered by Tom Douglas Restaurants, was top-freakin'-notch. Absolutely delicious. Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin made an excellent point: one of the benefits of working on local food issues is the refreshments are always delicious. Hear, hear!
The words, spoken by various leaders throughout the sustainable ag. community, were inspiring. My favorite tid-bit from the speeches came from Siri Erickson-Brown of Local Roots Farm. She spoke about the challenges and successes she has experienced first-hand when starting out farming. But perhaps her most important idea was that we are in dire need of new farmers. She astutely pointed out that nearly every community wants its own farmers market. We can attest to that: every week we field calls from folks who want to start their own FM. But for a farmers market to be successful, it first must have FARMERS!
Fact: There aren't enough farmers to fill all of the potential farmers markets...actually, there aren't enough farmers, period!
As the local food movement continues to gain public awareness and demand increases, we must examine the supply side of the equation as well. If we want to create a sustainable food system, it is imperative that we GROW NEW FARMERS.
It will not be easy, it will not happen quickly, but we must begin to build a sustainable framework on which to build new farms and grow new farmers.
Learn more about the County of Origin Labeling, which finally went into effect on Sept. 30th. This site even has "webinars".