Digging in

By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  April 28, 2008

DOIRON I continue to be concerned that the local-foods revolution is not nearly as broad and as deep as it ought to be. There have been charges made of this being an elitist movement, and I think to a certain degree, a lot of the energy that got things started came from an urban population that had the resources to shop at specialty stores, and the time to do that. One of the ways of making local foods more accessible to people is telling them that they can produce them themselves. Some people don’t have the income to be shopping at farmers' markets, but they may have a little bit of space in and around their house in which they can be planting organic salad greens.

BUCHANAN School gardens, community plots, and kitchen gardens are for everyone regardless of income … I hope we can move away from thinking solely as consumers to see quality food as something other than a commodity.

Do you think the greater Portland area, and/or Maine in general, is in a unique position to implement sustainable farming/healthy eating principles? Why or why not?
BEAL I think there is a great amount of support for these changes in Maine, especially at the grassroots level. MOFGA’s executive director, Russell Libby, has said: “There are only a few places in the country where there is both the capacity and the framework for a local food system, and Maine, along with Vermont, Oregon, and maybe Wisconsin and parts of northern California are those places.”

DOIRON We have four nationally known seed companies, we have the rock stars of the organic-gardening world in the form of Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman, we have the largest and oldest organic farming and gardening association in the form of MOFGA. We’ve got good soils, we’ve got a rich coastline. I think of Maine as being in a very fortunate position. We can be not only leading for our own citizens, but be a bit of a leader for the Northeast region.

Look who’s talking
These speakers will appear at the Food + Farm event at SPACE Gallery this weekend:

AMANDA BEAL The president of the board of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, which is co-sponsoring the Food + Farm event. Her life experiences — which include living and working at Yosemite National Park, serving as manger of Freeport’s Royal River Natural Foods, co-creating Maine’s Harvest Lunch program, and currently overseeing PROP’s Healthy Maine Partnership — have exposed her to many aspects of the sustainable-food movement.

JOHN BLISS AND STACY BRENNER An up-and-coming farm couple, these two run Scarborough’s Broadturn Farm, a 434-acre Community Supported Agriculture operation that offers organic vegetables, poultry, turkey, pork, and lamb. With their farm camp and community involvement, they are trying to change the way Mainers interact with their food.

DAVID BUCHANAN Slow Food USA encourages eaters to take some deep breaths, slow down, and understand their food — and in the process, to enjoy it more. Buchanan, an organizer of the Slow Food Portland chapter, is particularly interested in “heirloom crops” — those that give bloom to local varieties and unique flavors, as opposed to the tasteless uniformity of factory farming.

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