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This story is pretty inspiring, and sounds like where we could be headed in the Powell River region, with some more smaller farms springing up, a bit more awareness of the value of local food to the local economy, maybe some small businesses and value-added operations, and something like Helena Bird’s proposed teaching farm & market garden (AKA “Full Circle Farm”) to anchor the community around a central facility to provide a common infrastructure for production and processing.

Here’s the part I like:

“All of us have realized that by working together we will be more successful as businesses,” said Tom Stearns, owner of High Mowing Organic Seeds. “At the same time we will advance our mission to help rebuild the food system, conserve farmland and make it economically viable to farm in a sustainable way.”

Cooperation takes many forms. Vermont Soy stores and cleans its beans at High Mowing, which also lends tractors to High Fields, a local composting company. Byproducts of High Mowing’s operation — pumpkins and squash that have been smashed to extract seeds — are now being purchased by Pete’s Greens and turned into soup. Along with 40,000 pounds of squash and pumpkin, Pete’s bought 2,000 pounds of High Mowing’s cucumbers this year and turned them into pickles.

Somehow we need to start pulling in the same direction. Things seem very ragged and disorganized right now, largely thanks to the policies of large centralized governments, but helped along by societal forces that make farming an unattractive profession. It’s so bad now for small-scale farming that almost anything would help reverse the trend.

This chart says it all:

Candy and Soft Drinks vs. Fresh Produce

2007 Consumer Expenditures: Candy and Soft Drinks vs. Fresh Produce

Actually, it’s more like: Candy 1, Produce 0.96. But still, the fact that sales of candy, snacks, soft drinks (i.e., liquid candy), and (fergawdsakes) water is beating out sales of produce… well, there’s a ways to go before people are eating well in the USA. I don’t expect that these numbers are terribly different up here. In fact, comparative numbers from around the world would be pretty interesting.

I think that if I had been asked to guess at how these numbers stack up, I would have predicted that produce sales are even lower in comparison to the junk food categories lumped together here.