I very much enjoy delivering top quality local produce and seeing the joy it brings people. But my goal is not to solely build a farm box company. I want to make real change in our food system.
Starting this business during a global pandemic—and now, the Black Lives Matter Movement—was not an accident. Everything about our daily lives has changed, and that has offered an opportunity to take a step back and re-evaluate how we are living on this planet. It has forced us to consider whether our actions and dollars spent are aligned with the direction we want the world to move in.
The food system is complex, and, after years of studying it, there is still so much I don’t know. But what I’ve come to learn is that many of the "alternative food models" (organic, local, GMO free, pasture raised, etc.) center around health, but often ignore issues of social, economic and racial justice. They leave out those that are suffering in the current food systems, like food workers and low-income communities who cannot afford this higher quality food.
Although my farm box (as it stands now) is part of this dynamic—it's a premium product supporting local farms—my goals are much larger.
Here are my goals:
- I want to be supporting black and brown farmers who want to start their own urban or rural farms with the hope of sourcing from them eventually. Currently, New York has 157,000 farmers and only 139 are black (no data for NJ but likely worse). I want to help increase this number and ensure their food gets distributed.
- I will begin finding ways to advocate for stronger protections for workers in our food systems. I do not want to turn my back on the conventional food system completely. The majority of Americans eat in this system, and if everyone who cared about improving it worked outside of it, there would be no change. The U.S food sector is the nation’s largest employer, which includes production, processing, distribution retail and food service. These jobs are often paid below minimum wage and are without benefits. Food workers use food stamps at over twice the rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce. I will start advocating for better protection and treatment for these people.
- I want to make my product more accessible to low-income communities. I'm looking into working with government programs like SNAP Food Assistance—so it is important that you know that by buying this product you may at a later date be subsidizing this food for someone else.
These are my long-term goals as they currently stand. If I can build a sustainable box business (with the help of all of you) I can hopefully work towards accomplishing them. That said, I believe word of mouth is the strongest marketing tool, so please continue to share with your friends and neighbors in your community and surrounding towns.
The fact that I have been able to get this business to where it is now is already a testament to our community and what your values are. So thank you for that.
I love local produce. But what we're doing is bigger than that. And what I want to be selling is not a product, but people’s stories. I want to give a platform to new ideas so that we can inch toward systematic change.
Thanks for listening.