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2015 New England Food Summit: Challenge & Change
I'm glad to be back on the homestead and with Lane, who with superhuman powers juggled our life in Lisbon alone while I was gone for two days in Boston, where I was participating as a New Hampshire delegate at the New England Food Summit. The summit has been held for the last five years by Food Solutions New England. The main goals from their “vision” are for New Englanders to produce 50% of all food consumed in the region by 2060, and that there be food equity and justice, across all racial, gender, age, and economic lines.
The large crowds, tight quarters, pavement walking, air-conditioned rooms, traffic maneuvering, public speaking and networking took its toll. I'm surprised how unacclimated I was considering I used to live in a city and think of myself as having experience with these types of environments and events. I guess this means I’m a real farm-woman now?!? Even though I often long for culture, this adventure left me appreciative of our rural lifestyle.
I also found myself with waves of emotion as every topic of conversation led back to the concern of how we the producers will make it possible for all New Englanders to have access to clean local food. This is also the root issue that will determine the success of our growing business here at Prospect Farm. At first I was anxious by the big picture discussions, wishing there was more talk of specific tasks that I know need to be implemented by the many organizations present to support small farmers, in order to produce the amount of food the “vision” seeks. But as the conversation developed, tangible goals were created with constructive discussions on policy change, the altering of food safety regulations, farmer education, and creating a plan of action for an eat local NH marketing campaign. These are exactly the issues that would directly impact small farmers who greatly need this support. It was wonderful to see how many people are passionate about making the food-system more transparent, and how many diverse New England jobs are dedicated to seeing this change. We face many obstacles within our food-system and we most certainly have a long road ahead, but as a woman farmer I was honored to be a part of this conversation. I know without a doubt that it can be done, if we all play our part.
Now more than ever, I'm proud that Prospect Farm offers CSA members the option to pay in installments, and that we can provide the necessary tailored shares to requesting households. While we have suggestions on our website for poundage and payment, we are always willing to alter a plan so that anyone who wants good food, raised the way it should be, can truly have access to it!
For more information and to contribute to the conversation please visit foodsolutionsne.org or for more info specific to NH visit: nhfoodstrategy.weebly.com.
This post was originally published on Prospect Farm's blog.
Meryl Nevins was part of the New Hampshire Delegation to the 2015 New England Food Summit. She is a farmer at Prospect Farm in Lisbon, NH, a grass-based farmstead raising heritage breed livestock.