“People want healthy food that does not harm our environment and food forests are that solution.” – Jay Ford, Shine and Rise
More, from Ford, who runs the farm with his wife, Tatum: “Shine and Rise Farm in Painter, VA has been awarded a grant from Eastern Shore Healthy Communities to build Virginia’s first public food forest. The project is being developed and built in conjunction with Central Green and Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper. Growing a wide variety of annual and perennial fruits and vegetables, the Eastern Shore Food Forest will offer classes to the community on growing and healthy eating as well as providing nutritional, delicious food to those in need.”
912,790 people in Virginia do not know from where their next meal will come, according to Federation of Virginia Food Banks. The United Nations estimates one quarter of all agricultural land is seriously degraded. This issue is about a lot more than one project.
“Food is a fantastic way to start conversations about those factors that make a community strong,” said Ford, who is a friend and longtime AltDaily contributor. “What we eat and where it comes from has economic, educational, and health ramifications throughout a region. No social ill exists in isolation and we applaud the Eastern Shore Health District and Eastern Shore Healthy Communities for identifying this connection and providing us the resources to try and address it.”
Big Agriculture is worse than a runaway train, at this point. It’s a train still tied to the very roots of our society. Most Americans don’t go a day without ingesting a genetically-modified food, yet GMOs are banned in 63 countries. One expert believes that Americans “have collectively forfeited forty-one million IQ points as a result of exposure to lead, mercury, and organophosphate pesticides.”
“The food forest also will serve as a proving concept for how our food could be grown,” Ford said. “Food grown without the ecological footprint modern agriculture has by its very design. We believe forest farms are the future of food as they cannot only provide delicious, nutritionally superior food, but they also address the evolving societal standards we have for our food systems. People want healthy food that does not harm our environment and food forests are that solution.”
The Eastern Shore Food Forest took some of its inspiration from Seattle’s seven-acre food forest. One hopes this is the tip of the spear of a movement that cuts right through our detached food procurement society. From an article about the Beacon Food Forest in Washington State:
“But that’s what’s exciting about what’s going on in Seattle. There are so many types of programs being built to create a healthy, local, sustainable food system. You know, not just one organization is going to take down the corporate food system.”
More locally, George Washington Carver Edible Park is down in Ashville. Their Facebook page indicates that it isn’t just a place for growing food, but for fostering community engagement.
Here’s a Ted talk about how we can eat our landscapes:
To follow along with the Forest, here is Shine and Rise’s Facebook page.