Not in my back yard — that’s often the shortsighted response to clean energy development, right? But it can also be an appropriate response to more threatening forms of development; no one wants a nuclear or coal plant in their “back yard,” either. But this phrase (or the acronym NIMBY) can also describe another phenomenon: the notion that important efforts at sustainability occur somewhere across the globe, in the Arctic or the Amazon — but not in my back yard.
I admit that I know very little about Uganda: Idi Amin (gathered largely from THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND) and news reports of the bizarre “Kill the Gays” bill pretty much sums it up. I learned a bit in January about efforts to protect their coffee crop from the effects of climate change, but still wouldn’t want take a test on the country. So perhaps my pleasant surprise at news of a growing organic agricultural movement in the country is just a sign of my ignorance, but it strikes me as a really positive development in a nation that has been torn by by political and social unrest for decades.
According to the USDA, half of all US farmers will likely retire in the next decade. You might expect recruitment of new farmers to occur with organizations like the Future Farmers of America, or the 4H Club (and it is)… but the military? Yep… numerous programs around the country are targeting veterans for training in sustainable agriculture.
About this time last year, I took note of sustainable agriculture tours that provided great learning and getaway experiences. Want to go a step further, and actually get your hands dirty? Turns out there are lots of opportunities all over the world to exchange your labor for meals, sleeping quarters, and a great hands-on education in organic farming.
You may take access to fresh, organic produce for granted: if there’s a nearby farmers’ market or high-end grocery store, you likely have you pick of fruits and vegetables grown by organic standards. However, if you live in a food desert, or have a tight budget, such items likely strike you as luxuries. Farmers and food activists around the US not only recognize the presence of regions where fresh food is scarce; they’re also building organizations and even working farms to address unequal access to high-quality produce in these neighborhoods and communities. Here are a handful of groups not only growing produce, but also working to ensure it gets to those suffering from food poverty.