Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Not Waiting Around
The official uniform of Team Prairie Heritage Farm.
Team Prairie Heritage Farm took a road trip to the Flathead Valley to deliver a few Grain and Seed CSA shares to new members (drummed up by a couple of our good friends) and to listen to the president of Crossroads Resource Center and food systems analyst Ken Meter present on the food system in western Montana.
A typical Grain and Seed CSA share: 86 pounds of heritage and ancient grain goodness.
Ken presented a staggering set of numbers. Currently, farm production balance in western Montana (and nationally) is lower than in the 1930s during the Great Depression. Farmers lose over $30 million to produce their agricultural products. They also spend $80 million buying external inputs for those products, for a total loss of over $110 million to the region. The other end of the food chain, the consumers, are spending $680 million on food outside the region. Ken asked, just how long can we keep this up?
I think the answer is, let's not wait around to find out. He then showed the audience great examples of projects in Minnesota and Wisconsin that aren't waiting to find out.
In western Montana and in particular, the Flathead Valley, those communities aren't either. People and groups are making things happen in the Valley like Nourish the Flathead, the Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center, our friends at Ten Lakes Farm, Purple Frog Gardens, and Montana Coffee Traders.
On our drive home, we were wistful at the incredible movement taking hold in the Flathead. Two things struck us, though. While our drive over was a three-hour trip—through the shortgrass prairie, across the Rocky Mountain Divide, and into the eastern-most Pacific Northwest—I had to remind myself, despite the dramatic change of scenery, we are only one county over.
Pondera County kisses Flathead County.
The second revelation was, there are great things happening in our little rural community too, and there is no reason why they can't be as vital and empowering as what is happening across the Divide. All it should take is a little bit of not waiting around to find out, and knowing that farming and all of its associated networks can and should be a net positive on the balance sheet and to the community.
Posted by Jacob at 8:20 PM