1) What is your name, where do you live, and please explain your work!
I have been involved in or working on environmental and justice issues for 20 years. After a long time of working around these issues, I realized you don’t have to
do anything grand to make the world a better place. I also know that our farmer population is aging fast, and that our food infrastructure is dominated by only a few entities. It seemed an overwhelming problem until I stopped thinking about big things and started looking right next door. Ten years ago we had no co-op in Vancouver, so I worked to help start our first co-op. After that, I realized that what I wanted to do was not just the market creation, but something that helped people do the small business “thing”. So, here I am working on hearth!
I am driven by the understanding that if real people don’t stand together to control their food supply, they will be under the control of a market in which profit is everything and not livelihood.
We have so very little in the way of good food in west Vancouver, but we have a lot of people that support local and understand how they can help our area with the purchases they make.
The motivation is both convenience, price, and the nature of the
project being really, really dedicated to this small area and its residents.
Soon, many things will change about the nature of hearth because we are
working on a commercial kitchen and storefront.
There are currently about 75 households involved in hearth, and this is after just one year of testing and trying and making farm connections. It is exciting!
Distributors must carry organic and fairtrade products if they are
even going to make it onto our possible list. Producers have to be
local and have great products. Like yours!!
5) Where did your passion for connecting rural with urban come from?
I started out as someone who loves food, food art, master chef creations, etc. I was exposed early on to the chefs and food movement to buy local, and I think that it was that focus on supply that really tipped me from a love affair with the delicious end product to a dedication to the supply chain that got that food to the table. I now think of myself as a librarian of ingredients for people who are looking for the right book is a lot like looking for the right tomato!
Almost everything I do is colored by the activism in which I am
engaged. I have witnessed and studied rural economies and
understand that the production chain of most modern food stuffs is
filled with lots of terrible problems - slave labor, chemical exposures, lack of political voice and control, damaged environment etc. All people must eat - and to NOT know what is happening with this fundamental part of life is something that must change.
The consolidation of small farms under giant corporate entities, the
control and abuse of seed technologies, chemical inputs, transportation costs etc, are all driving factors in what I do. It is a small part, but it is something that
underscores that we need to be as resilient and self reliant as possible! And
that means local food first! I have learned that being too focused on money has a tendency to stop great project and events and creations from blooming. People need money, that is true. But you don’t really need much if your community is self-supporting.
If I were to dream really big, I hope that hearth becomes a resources for people
in west Vancouver to change the health of their lives. We have a lot of food related
illness in our area, and I believe it is tied to not having access to an alternative. hearth is fundamentally about access and connectivity and not ownership.
The only advice I might have is that you have to do hands on stuff and not just think about it! And, once you get going, you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to try and get better! Don’t freak out about failure, never let failure stop you.