This weekend a few of my classmates and I, led by Professor Kelly Allen, attended the 2019 Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture in Lancaster, PA. We were there to speak about our experience traveling to Antioquia, Colombia in May 2018 as part of a Sustainable Food Systems course.
Professor Allen, Mike Nieves, and I spoke about the farmers we met in Santa Rosa de Osos and of the land they cared for. We spoke about an organization called SENA that facilitated relationships and provided education for the farmers and provided entrepreneurship incentives to create funding and jobs. We discussed the role of government, the education system, and in what ways we can learn from one another.
After our presentation, the audience broke up into groups where we brainstormed ideas. Everyone had their own story and role in the food system from growers to consumers. Each person provided their insight and their concerns with our current food system. We heard governent subsidies benefitting industrial agriculture systems over the small-scale organic grower. We talked about the costs associated with buying land and getting produce into the grocery stores. We talked about how expensive the produce is for the consumer, making it inaccessible to a large percentage of the population. It was a great experience and we have a lot of work to do to fix our broken food system.
We also attended information sessions that covered a range of topics like planting native plants to feed our disappearing pollinators. There were speakers from various organizations and farms, sharing their knowledge and challenging us to think about how we can create a more sustainable and inclusive food system in the midst of climate change. It was an incredible learning experience and a great way to kick off the 2019 growing season for the NCC East 40 Community Garden.