'Good food' movement holds conference in LR | Home & Garden
The good food movement converges on Little Rock in January 2013! Organic and sustainable food producers and advocates of local food systems are gathering to attend the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group’s (Southern SAWG) conference January 23-26, 2013, at The Peabody Little Rock and Statehouse Convention Center.
The locavore* movement continues to gain ground in the South. And this conference is a perfect event for anyone serious about local food production and creating more vibrant community food systems! Pre-registration numbers indicate that this could be the largest conference gathering held by Southern SAWG to date, with expectations of well over 1,200 attendees this year.
What happened to the good food of the past? There was a time when consumers knew where their food came from. Backyard gardeners, local farmers and regional wholesalers supplied good food—fresh, produce. But our food system has gone awry. With each recall or health scare from conventionally produced food sources, consumers feel threatened and are taking up the challenge to find a safer, local food source. The desire to reconnect with our food roots is growing. Consumers are expecting more tasty, local foods from restaurants, too.
The answer lies in the good food movement promoted by this conference. Attendees to the conference learn ways to market their produce and connect with their customers. And, there are so many other events and courses to attend. The popular, pre-conference events begin on Wednesday and cover: organic vegetable production, high tunnel production, growing farm profits, controlled grazing management, lambs, cut flowers, sustainable pest management and regional food hubs. The field trips feature a choice of tours: sustainable and organic operations; successful school and community gardens; and the Heifer Ranch.
The general conference, on Friday and Saturday, offers nine tracks of sessions covering: organic and sustainable production of vegetables, cut flowers, fruit, seeds and livestock; farm finance and business management; direct marketing strategies such as online markets and CSAs (community supported agriculture); successful farm stories; federal farm and food policies; and community food systems — a broad range of offerings for start-ups and seasoned producers alike.
Saturday morning’s plenary session “Changing Food, Changing Society” will be given by Malik Yakini, director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network. Yakini will make the connections between sustainable agriculture’s work with food and the larger movement for freedom, justice and equality. Drawing on his experience as a community organizer, educator and urban farmer, Yakini will discuss the importance of local, sustainable food systems in leading to community empowerment, sovereignty and justice.
Malik Yakini has presented at numerous local community meetings and national conferences on food justice and on the implementation of community food security practices. He is featured in the book "Blacks Living Green," and the recent movie “Urban Roots.”
Saturday evening’s keynote address, “The Good Food Movement as Community Development” will be given by Dr. Sherece West-Scantlebury, president and CEO of Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. Dr. West-Scantlebury will draw on her nearly 20 years of experience in public service, community development, and public policy advocacy to inspire participants to continue building the good food movement. The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation is a private, independent foundation whose mission is to improve the lives of all Arkansans in three interrelated areas: economic development; education; and economic, racial and social justice.
Below is just a sample of the outstanding producers who will be presenting at this year’s conference.
Jay and Deanna Fulbright
Arkansas Natural Produce, Hot Spring County, Arkansas
Edible Flowers, Greens, Herbs and Seasonal Crops
North Pulaski Farms, Pulaski County, Arkansas
Falling Sky Farm, Marshall, Arkansas
Pastured Duck, Chicken, Turkeys, Pork and Beef
Dripping Springs Garden, Huntsville, Arkansas
Vegetables, Blueberries and Cut Flowers
Paul and Alison Wiediger
Au Naturel Farm, Kentucky
Vegetables and Cut Flowers
Southern SAWG is the South’s nonprofit leader for sustainable agriculture. Our mission is to empower and inspire farmers, individuals and communities in the South to create an agricultural system that is ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just, and humane. Because sustainable solutions depend on the involvement of the entire community, Southern SAWG is committed to including all persons without bias.
* A locavore is a person committed to eating locally grown foods as much as possible.
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