This blog post comes from Leila Quinn, a 2012 Regional Field Organizer for the Northeast.
Thursday morning, August 16th was sunny and warm. Excitement ran high as we waited for our participants to arrive from all around the region. Students from Mount Holyoke, Wellesley, SUNY Fredonia, Clark, Dartmouth, University of Maine Orono, Bunker Hill, Tufts, Skidmore, Westfield State, Bennington, Roger Williams, and Oberlin came to learn about Real Food. After quick introductions we immediately began to examine the current state of the food system and more importantly learn tools to fix it!
We covered a lot of material over the weekend in our workshops: understanding “What Is Real Food?”, practicing organizing techniques and recruitment strategy, learning about the corporate food service industry, getting introduced to the Calculator, and working on campaign planning for the coming year. We had a wonderful guest lecturer, Simca, who came from the Massachusetts Farm to School network who told us inspiring stories of campus successes in our region. We also talked through different types of oppression in the food system, and how we might encounter and change them in our work.
The Northeast group had plenty of time to learn each other’s stories and bond with one another too. The group visited Langwater Farm down the road from the Manse where we met Rory, the local farmer who had provided us with some of our delicious food for the week. She taught us to weed, and we got through several rows of beets and chard! Rory sent us home with a delicious gift of melons and green tomatoes, which we fried up for dinner. We wrapped up the training on the last morning by sharing appreciations for each other’s presence and role during the weekend.
One of the most important take-aways of the weekend for myself was realizing how many entrance points into the food movement there are. The intersections between the consumers, producers, communities, and natural resources are many and allow for people to become involved no matter where their interests lie. Furthermore, as we learn from each other during trainings such as these and ensuing campaigns, our growing and interest areas can change.
It was especially potent to reflect on the food movement as a proactive movement based on hope and community, rather than work based in fear and identifying enemies. When we are involved in the creation of community, we can tap into our vulnerabilities and sources of anger and frustration in order to find hope and start moving the world towards what we want it to be.