Springing Forward after the Conference
A view from SSAWG 2019 in Little Rock
Finding your place in the local food movement can be difficult. After just attending another SSAWG (Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group) Conference, I have nestled a little more deeply into my path in some ways, and I have opened new doors , new learning trajectories. It was humbling to be among the nearly 1,000 self identified sustainable food and agricultural professionals in the Southeast in Little Rock over the weekend. I caught up with some old friends and met new ones too. I was trying to soak up as much information as I possibly could from this group of leaders. Now back in Montgomery, I am distilling all that I gathered and trying to use it to spring me forward in my work here at EAT South.
One major topic of interest at the conference for me was to hear from other non-profit farms about how they engage with their community. I was inspired by HABESHA, Inc. and their Sisters of the Soil program (a symposium coming up in April) in Atlanta. Their work is centered around Helping Africans By Establishing Schools Home and Abroad. Their farm began by starting a garden in their community and has evolved over time into a hub for cultural and agricultural training and education. I highly recommend that you look into the great work they are doing. In order to better understand my work I was on a mission to understand how other community teaching farms are operating. And there are a lot of great models.
Many universities have begun community farms on campus, engaging students and sending students to share their interest in growing with the greater community. Other organizations worked regionally and even statewide to serve as a hub for garden and agricultural educators. Still others provided funds, staff and curriculum for in school farms like Jones Valley Teaching Farm. The longevity of programs varied and many organizations are just getting started.
April Hampton (right), author of The Telling and CEO of Divine Dictations Publications with Amanda Edwards, EAT South Good Food Day field trip coordinator (left) pictured at SSAWG 2019.
One of my favorite sessions of the conference was with Montgomery’s April Hampton. She has written a book called The Telling and has provided a program similar to Seder, a ceremonial dinner that commemorates the Exodus from Egypt and includes the reading of the Haggadah and the eating of symbolic foods , where you recite the story of African Americans brought over during slavery from Africa to the United States, all the way up to now, living in a complex society where often times history gets overlooked. I highly recommend you look into her book and program and also stay tuned for local events of The Telling.
Please feel free to contact writer, Amanda Edwards, at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or questions.