Voices from the Grassroots: An Online Quarterly

A platform for North American grassroots organizers and organizations in the good food movement to share their work—both triumph and failure.

Disruption, discontent, and disparities make local food systems ripe for start-ups. COVID-19 made clear the need to prioritize shorter, fairer, more resilient supply chains. And economists using local food economic multipliers have consistently shown net financial gains for communities that invest in their food systems' infrastructures. But what ab

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If you know anything about the good food movement in and around Atlanta, GA, you've likely heard of Chef Asata Reid. If not, chances are, your kids or your grandkids have. Chef Asata, MPH, MS Ed, is a formally trained culinarian, a community health educator, a writer and storyteller, an activist, and a highly sought speaker throughout the Southeast

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Farmers and farmers markets raced to adopt online sales platforms in the spring of 2020 when the circumstances of COVID-19 wreaked havoc on local food venues. But the concept of using technology to sell local food was little more than a curious anomaly back in 2009, when Amy McCann first came on the scene. Amy is the co-founder of Local Food Market

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Nicole Virgil is a musician by trade who grew up in Connecticut riding trains into Manhattan to study music. "I didn't know a thing about soil … or anything with a root." She recalls the time she tried growing something from seed on the windowsill of her college dorm room. "No one ever told me you had to take it out of the egg carton," she laughs.

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Zack Wyatt, founding president and CEO of Carolina Farm Trust, was a first-hand witness to the disappearance of city-surrounding agriculture in his hometown. It left a lasting impression. "People don't want to know" about the compounding problems of our conventional food systems, he says. "But once you know, you can't unknow." As a child, Zack and

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For many who have worked at the uphill crossroads of local agriculture and food access, Mickey Davis' situation is so rare that her words ring almost surreal. In Boulder, CO, she says, "the city and county (are) throwing weight behind my role, and building more positions of its kind." A sugar-sweetened beverage tax, leveraged by the public health d

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Ryan Stasolla has contributed to the evolving work of NAFSN during all three of his undergraduate years at Cornell University. Few in our organization can match his base of knowledge about our web-based resources and the trends he has witnessed throughout his experience. Ryan's work requires technical, outreach, and collaborative skills; he brings

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Cultural anthropologist and filmmaker Gail P. Myers, PhD, who is also a founding member and former Leadership Chair of NAFSN, used the profound year of 2020 to coordinate fundraising for a documentary of interviews with Black farmers—stories from the South that she filmed in 2012. The resulting film, Rhythms of the Land, is currently in post-produc

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Why farm? When the pay is minimal, the work is tough, and the conventional industry is fraught with exploitation, why would any child aspire to farming? Alpha Sennon, founder/executive director of WHYFARM, believes we owe young people throughout the world an answer to this question. "We can't wait until they get a PhD, learning about climate change

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During the summer of 2020, as food supply chains quaked under the pressures of COVID-19, Chloë Waterman did what comes naturally to her. She helped organize a David-vs-Goliath-style campaign targeting Tyson Foods for failing to protect its meat plant workers.  As program manager for Friends of the Earth, Chloë collaborated with more than 120 o

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“For me, Georgia isn’t a red state. And it isn’t a blue state. Georgia is a green state, especially at the dinner table. Meats or veggies, we all eat.”  Charlie Monroe, the outgoing president of the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA), reflects on his four-year tenure at the helm, his additional four years on its board, and th

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The social fabric undergirding our food systems is woven by people from all sectors of American society: business, nonprofit and government. Amanda Chu of Green Bay, Wisconsin, is that rare food systems professional who capably contributes threads from all three. As an entrepreneur, Amanda runs a one-woman business that conducts farm-practice audit

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Anne Massie is a farmer in Crown Point, Indiana. She grows sixty varieties of fruits, vegetables, and nuts, but cabbages are her favorite. "Prehistoric monster flowers," she calls them. Anne is also a local food activist for whom thinking big does not stop at large, leafy brassicas. "There is a choice to be made," she explains. "To be an activist,"

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At first glance, Vacation Vittles is a simple, savvy twist on the standard CSA business model. Beach vacationers staying on the shores of Wilmington, NC, order farm-fresh bags of seasonal produce grown by local farmers and delivered by youth. It's a sunny story of short-value-chain economic development on the seashore. But Randolph Keaton—the drivi

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When Chef Dave Smoke McCluskey tells you that moose nose and beaver tail are similar in flavor, he's not just talking about taste. As a chef, he wants you to enjoy your meal, of course. As an Indigenous foods educator and member of the Mohawk Nation, Chef Dave also wants you to think about the history of the ingredients in your meal, including thos

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Working at the sensitive crossroads where human dietary behaviors intersect with food security and food waste, you will find Virginia Tech PhD candidate Susan Chen knee-deep in research.The questions she poses are simple yet daunting. Almost philosophical. "If a child sucks the juice from an orange slice," she asks, "but doesn't actually eat the or

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