Posted on Mon, April 20, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
1 Comments | Categories: Events, Farms and Farming, Food Justice,
by Slow Food Atlanta Chapter Leader Judith Winfrey
Recently it seems like everybody is talking about food issues. Thanks to the hard work of writers, farmers activists, and, of course, a certain first lady, our national consciousness seems to be shifting, and along with it, the focus of many individuals and organizations working on food. Among the developments, we are seeing the definition of good food expand to include the food justice movement. At Slow Food Atlanta, we’ve been thinking a lot about how to do the work to reflect this change, and improve everyone’s access to food that’s good, clean and fair. This led to an exploration of the landscape, both physically and metaphorically. What do we already have in place, and who’s already doing the work? These questions led us to some dazzling people, places, and organizations, and forged partnerships that strengthen us all.
In Atlantas historic West End neighborhood, we found Reverend Richard Bright at Good Shepherd Community Churchs urban farm—- a project, in it’s second year. On five acres in the heart of the city, the Good Shepherd Garden has the mission of providing delicious, healthy food to congregants and neighbors alike. Weekly harvest markets take place in front of the church where food is available to anyone for a donation. Almost simultaneously, we found the Skillet Brigade, the Southern Foodways Alliance burgeoning service corps.
The Southern Foodways Alliance, like Slow Food Atlanta, was looking for way to engage members and support the larger food community. Why duplicate efforts when we can collaborate for a larger impact? Both SFA’s agreed to work together, and recently had a service day at the Good Shepherd Community Garden to begin spring planting preparation and break new ground for future use. Armed with hot coffee from Counter Culture, pastries, and an arsenal of tools, this collection of folks put in several hours of weeding, rock removing, knocking down ragweed, tilling beds, and cutting out kudzu roots one piece at a time. Sweaty smiles and fatigued muscles, not only exemplified the necessary work of the good food movement, but also provided a model for future efforts: find the people who are already doing the work and support the work they are doing.
Like most urban areas, there exists an immense space, coined a food desert, between where food is grown and eaten. Rev. Bright and the Good Shepherd are an oasis of delicious food, creating meaningful, healthy connections with their neighbors. By partnering with the Good Shepherd, Slow Food Atlanta didn’t have to spend precious resources reinventing the wheel. By joining with the Skillet Brigade, we were able to contribute more to this powerful effort, than if working alone. In total, we gave several hundred work hours and just as many dollars to the garden. We are ready to spring into action again when needed, and are free from the burden of going it alone.