Last night Tom, Paul and I went to a screening for the Greenhorns movie, a documentary about new young farmers. It was a decent flick overall but I felt that it probably would have been better if the movie had focused on fewer farmers and told more of their story rather than show just a little bit of each farmer. Surprisingly, a photo of our backyard (the one above) made an appearance at the end of the film.
After the movie there was a panel discussion involving a couple of farmers, a Master Gardener, and some food enthusiasts (for lack of a better term). What the panel was lacking was food activists – people that want to truly change the system to be sustainable and increase the access of healthy food to everyone. While there was a new, young farmer on the panel, getting into farming and it’s challenges was barely discussed. When it was discussed one panelist said something along the lines of:
“Farming isn’t for everyone. It’s hard work and not everyone should be a farmer.”
Fair enough except it was in response to a question about how a 20-something that is interested in farming could get started. There was no mention of WWOOF though someone mentioned volunteering on a farm, though that is illegal in California so it seemed a bit out of touch with current regulations.
The overall feeling of the evening, however, was that sustainable farming and the food it produced should be elitist and that those that can’t afford it should eat unhealthy food. While it wasn’t said outright it was definitely implied. When a young man named Xulio stood up to talk about how the immigrant laborers aren’t going to be able to afford this food he was met with blank stares and a “I don’t really understand your question.” My hand shot up because this was exactly the question I was wanting to ask.
Are you interested in sustainable farming being only a niche market or do you want it to transform the food system? And if we are to transform the entire food system to be sustainable the only way we will be able to do that is to make healthy, sustainable food accessible to everyone. How do you see that happening?
I knew that the answer would be if I had gotten to ask the question but I was ignored and others were called on to ask more trivial questions (except for one woman who wanted to know about the work that City Slicker Farms was doing). Other than the movie it was a fairly disappointing and frustrating evening and a good reminder of why I’m a food justice activist.