Sustainable agriculture is socially just, environmentally enhancing, and economically viable for the communities in which it exists. If we continually demand the cheapest food possible, we'll continue to get food produced with cheap labor on land bereft of its beautiful resources from a company that most likely does not care about how it's created, distributed, or consumed.
It's going to be a long road to a paradigm shift of a place where food and music reignite a beautiful American culture, one in which we can be proud of our simple spot in the world, and every baby step helps. Food is a powerful force of community and development, and now I've had the opportunity to see the movement work at home.
During my senior year at Lee University, I wanted to get my hands dirty, get service credit, and meet some consciously minded people. So, I sought out an internship at Crabtree Farms, a twenty-acre urban oasis and organic farm in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Little did I know that my internship at Crabtree would inspire a passion and involve me in a movement. I connected the nonprofit with my University to get upper-level biology credit and made friends who will last a lifetime. (The farm's manager and assistant greatly contributed to my Grateful Dead and reggae collections, respectively.)
Inspired by music, The Greenway Table has came to be over the last year in Cleveland, Tennessee, just north of Chattanooga. After spending a few fun November days in Texas with Matisyahu and crew, I returned to Cleveland and noticed an acre of land on public property, surrounded by trees and near an elementary school, middle school, and university. Over several subsequent months we have grown a half-acre organic garden, sold our produce, donated food, and hosted a camp, classes, and clubs. We recently received a $10,000 grant for educational programming in 2010.
The Greenway Table will empower our community through the power of food. With our demonstration urban farm and educational outreach, we will inspire conscious consumption and influence demand as well as decrease obesity and help our local economy. Yes, I have been working to pay my bills and, yes, community and friends are an integral part of this movement and my life. It's like we gotta head up the rat race to take the lead and slow down -- and nothing keeps us in the race like a nice fresh beat. Or beet.
Other awesome Tennessee farms include Sequatchie Cove Farm, Williams Island Farm, Clover Wreath Farm, and River Ridge Farm.