Deb Lippoldt's post prompted several things to spring to mind.
First, while I started such a recovery program from our farmers' markets it
took three years to do so, then it fell apart after two.
There are more churches than gas stations in our area, but trying to get
someone to come at noon on Saturday or Sunday was nigh on to impossible.
Our food closets up here are small and well-meaning but woefully inadequate
and underprepared. None has refrigeration to store parishable food. My
solution was to give the food away on Monday instead of storing it - a
tough concept to sell. The food closets themselves made it difficult to
interface. You had a two hour, mid-morning window on Monday or Wednesday,
AND you had to leave the farm to get there, no one would pick it up.
(Apparently folks in our area are only hungry twice a week)
Second, we ate from what didn't sell at market, too, and composted the rest
when we didn't give it away. Maintaining my food stream and soil fertility
is not a waste. (We do support the local women's shelter in anycase)
Third, the WIC program and food stamps only work on the farmers' end if
there is good liquidity. Our farmers' market wouldn't redeem these coupons
from us until we had increments of $50. I never signed up for either
program because I felt those rules were abusive of my farm. Anyone wanting
to use them got given food at my booth.
Fourth, tax right-offs only work if the time to track them plus the
right-off plus your tax burden because your making so much money come
together just right. I know very few farmers who are in that position.
Overall, I agree with Deb. Parallel food systems are a little like
welfare, they throw just enough resource at the problem to keep riots from
annoying the haves. The fact that farmers have different poverty standards
- expected to provide their own food from their land base - actually gives
us a tri-sected population.
Marcie A. Rosenzweig
Full Circle Organic Farm
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