Spreading our Message
February 10, 2016
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute continues their legacy of educating the next generation of farmers and sustainable agriculture leaders via our Farming and Policy Programs as well as regularly scheduled educational workshops for consumers and farmers alike. This January, George Reistad, from our Policy Department, and Christine Welcher, from our Education Department, took their message on the road when they presented at Wisconsin Local Food Network’s Summit in Sheboygan, WI. The subject of their presentation was Empowering the Next Generation of Food Leaders; they highlighted their current programs and initiatives and illustrated how they hope to shape these programs in the future. The talk pointed out the critical voices that are missing from these types of programs, and explained why it is necessary to continue to proliferate food and farming education programs nationwide with these voices.
Quality, fresh food, and the access to it, are a human right most of us take for granted. Unfortunately there are food deserts all over our country. A “food desert” is defined as parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers within a mile radius. By empowering young people to 1) recognize they deserve fresh food and a healthy food system, and 2) giving them the skills to grow it themselves if need be, Michael Fields, and other non-profits focused on the local food movement, are fighting this battle on two fronts.
The presentation ended by challenging the audience and allowing them to share their ideas and best practices. This group discussion spurred potential solutions to the challenges that food and farming education, engagement, and training face in a society where agriculture is becoming less common as a career path and lifestyle. Ways to frame food systems careers and pathways outside of the traditional “image of agriculture in America” are needed to engage and prepare the next generation. We need to start thinking outside the box on these issues and we need those critical, missing, voices to chime in!