We're All Here

We're all here. 

That is we're here at this moment, in this place.

Everyone is a part of the problems we face, and everyone is a part of the solutions. 

Tracy Singleton is a special part of the food community in Minneapolis. Her presence is one of awareness, one of listening, one of absorbing. A few weeks back she generously offered her restaurant, the Birchwood Cafe, as a the presenter of an encore screening of our documentary. She's been part of the building of a community, a community centered around farms, around the creativity of chefs, and the service of people who care. We were honored and privileged to be guests at a reception at Birchwood Cafe before the movie. So many people came and talked about agriculture, about issues of vitality for the community. We were again joined by the farmers who raised our food at this meal, and again felt gratitude to the people and the families that feed us. 

Some of the food at our pre-screening food event at Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Mette Nielsen)

Folks congregate, eat and talk at outside of Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis. (Photo Mette Nielsen)

Following the food, we drove to the theater at St. Anthony Main, which filled up, about 160 people in attendance.

The film finished about half the folks headed home, while the other half stayed to listen to the farmers talk. Mark Muller, of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, moderated a discussion, that ranged far and wide. Paul of Gold N' Plump explained the difficulties that ethanol production cause for their farmers, pointing out that more land now goes to ethanol, then to feeding animals for meat. It seems an odd strategic decision for our best cropland to be dedicated to the production of gasoline, when that land is needed to feed people. Regi talked about the importance of including young latino farmers, who often work in large conventional systems, into the local food movement. He talked about a system they are developing at the Main Street Project to produce poultry and vegetables. Wayne talked of how cattle are more efficiently raised than chickens and pigs. This is because cattle can be fed only grass, whereas chickens and pigs need grain.

Tracy Singleton speaks at our post-screening conversation. (Photo S. Yao)

Tracy kindly commended the documentary for it's empathy of all farmers, and for a shared principle that "food connects us all", something her and the community of Birchwood believe and bring into daily practice.

Audrey Arner of Moonstone Farms. (Photo S. Yao)

Audrey talked about the challenges of getting land, getting soil, into the hands of young farmers. That our nation needs to find creative ways to inspire a new generation of farmers. She mentioned the vital Land Stewardship Project's Farm Beginnings program, one that is filling up with eager folks interested to do just that. I mentioned our initiative to shift 1 billion dollars of the 2017 Farm Bill to young and beginning farmers. Mark ended the evening's conversation with announcements of upcoming IATP events, and the good folks who came applauded and many stayed and talked longer. We said our goodbyes and thank yous, and headed out onto the road, heading East. 


Some of the good folks who stayed for the post-screening discussion. (Photo S. Yao)

The last few weeks in Minnesota have been magical, a state where the passion for agriculture is as strong as the rivers that run through the land. Change is happening all around, and there's an excitement and a transformation underfoot as sure as the night turns into day. Susan and I are grateful to the many people who shared food, and conversation with us. Thank you for a truly wondrous July. 


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commented 2012-08-13 17:21:22 -0400 · Flag
Thanks Regi for being a special voice. We’re excited to return in March, and hope to feature some of the work of Main Street Project in our coming documentary. Finally, and most importantly, thanks for farming and for developing food systems.
published this page in Ruminations 2012-08-02 12:03:06 -0400