Leading the Local Food Movement

By Cam Mather

I’ve blogged about a lot of great women and now I want to talk about another local visionary – Kim Perry. Lots of people are attempting to eat a diet that is made up of food grown close to their home. It cuts down on the miles the food travels and therefore reduces its carbon footprint. Often the food comes from smaller farms and smaller farmers are often organic and committed to growing the healthiest food and protecting the land as much as they can. I’m not suggesting that the farmers of larger farms don’t share this goal, but with larger farms you have larger amounts of money on the line and the need to reduce the likelihood of crop failures increases greatly, putting more pressure to apply chemicals to ensure a good harvest.

One of the challenges for anyone wanting to “eat locally” is figuring out where to buy this stuff. I know that the Lays potato chip company was running a commercial that identified their potato chips as local, and they very well may have been, but I don’t think that’s the concept of the hundred-mile diet. Farmers markets are a great place to start. Talk to the farmers; make sure they’re growing it. Ask them if they are organic or working towards it. Another great idea is to join a CSA – Community Shared Agriculture (or Community Supported Agriculture). In a CSA you purchase a share of the farmer’s harvest up front, and you are supplied during the growing season with a basket of fruits and vegetables each week, depending on what she’s harvesting. I use the feminine “she” because women run many of the CSAs that I’m familiar with. I think that’s fantastic. I have nothing against male farmers; I just love seeing women entering a traditional male area.

Kim Perry and her husband operate a farm and Kim was very involved with the local food movement, but I think she saw the challenge many farmers have with getting their product into local stores. So she took matters into her own hands and she opened “Local Family Farms” in a small town near here called Verona, north of Kingston Ontario. Her store sells local food by local farmers. She also prepares food made with local ingredients, as she was doing before I took this photo, which is why she’s wearing a hair net.

Kim is a visionary and has an amazing store. She also has fabulous customers who share her vision and buy their food from local farms. Those local farmers in turn spend their money in the community, as opposed to the multinational food corporations that don’t care about small towns. Multinational food corporations are motivated by profit. If a family in a small town needs help after their house burns down, local people step up to the plate and contribute. Multinationals suck money away and they don’t give back. Oh…. except for that one charity that looks good on their annual report.

So Kim has created an outlet to bring farmers and customers together. Now I’m very biased in my admiration of Kim, because she is also a customer of ours. She sells our garlic and she sells a lot of it. So I am very grateful to Kim for allowing me to grow something I love growing, and make a bit of money doing it.

We dropped in 40 pounds of our garlic last week and listened as she spoke to a customer about the “Save our Prison Farms” campaign she’s involved in. There are a number of federal penitentiaries in the Kingston area, including several that have farms. Low risk inmates are allowed to work on the farms. They develop skills. These skills can help them get jobs when they leave prison. These prison farms provide a portion of the food that all the prisoners in the system eat.

Now our federal government, in their infinite wisdom, want to close the prison farms. I think their rationale is that they can purchase food more cheaply in the open market. But I don’t think that’s the issue here. I think they saw these great tracks of land and thought, “Oh, look, we can sell some land for more subdivisions, so let’s scrap the farms.”

Well it turns out that many people disagree with our federal government, which has stepped into a hornet’s nest on this one. So far they have ignored the protests and are moving ahead with selling the dairy cowherds and the protestors have made it very clear they will blockade any attempt to ship the cows out. Now if you were the federal minister of correctional services, wouldn’t you be paying attention to this?

So Kim and her customer were discussing the latest strategy for how they were going to stop this. It’s not like she didn’t have enough to do with her farm, and her family and running this great store. It’s like what they say about a busy person… give them a job and you’ll know it’ll get done. Kim Perry is one of the exceptional women I am grateful to have on my side.

For more information about this campaign, please go to;

http://saveourprisonfarms.ca/

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About Cam
Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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