Tim and Deri-Anne from Angelica Organic Farm are facing into significant challenges and need our support. Yet beyond this we must ask ourselves what has led to more and more food growers facing extreme hardship and what role can we play in changing this?
Late last week our friends Tim and Deri-Anne at Angelica Organic Farm did a brave thing. They put it out there to the world that they are doing it tough and their farm and glorious, glorious produce is at risk of disappearing forever. Along with this they also asked for financial support to assist them in being able to ride out the storm and continue doing what they love, which is serving us with healthful food that also nurtures the land (I encourage you to support them too if you have the means).
I can only imagine the decision to bare all must have been excruciating and in some ways pride-bruising, for two people who strike me as eternally hardworking and passionate. The courage it took must have been immense, yet I am grateful they did, because in this fragile moment it allows us to have an important conversation about food.
I’ve always found it disturbing that food producers who are critical to our survival and the health of our planet, are also the ones failing to receive a fair price for putting food on our table. And even if they are receiving a fair price when things are going well, who is insuring them against shocks in the system such as extreme weather events, large infrastructure upgrades, crop loss or illness? We’re jointly responsible for climate change and sometimes powerless to what Mother Nature has in store, so why is it that an occupation as vital as growing our food must accept all of that risk?
When did office jobs become so disproportionately valued over food production that we see many people earning markedly more than the very farmers who feed their families?
Many of us have the luxury of jobs that pay us each week regardless of when it last rained or how long the heat wave has lasted. On the whole, we go to work and if we do a half-decent job we are rewarded for this. And truth be told, we mainly still get remunerated if we accidentally spend half of Friday online shopping or paying overdue bills.
There are of course, exceptions to the rule and many industries doing it tough, however, having a reliable source of food is arguably the most important of our basic needs. So why is this very industry suffering so much?
Without food there is no life.
At what point did society place such little value on food that we were willing to see family farm after family farm close down or be bought up by multinationals whose core values surely aren’t steeped in supporting healthy communities, ensuring an abundant natural world or fresh food access for all.
When did office jobs become so disproportionately valued over food production that we see white collar workers earn twice, three times, ten times more than those farmers who enable our families to live without famine? And where regenerative farming is concerned, as is the case with Angelica Organic Farm, they also improve the environment they farm on. Who is paying for their stewardship?
If you’re reading this feeling judged or uncomfortable, this is surely not my intention – our own family exists largely off the office job salary that my husband earns, and for that we are privileged. We are privileged and we have a choice as to how we use our money. We choose to use it to vote for a fairer, kinder, healthier and more sustainable food system, amongst other things. That is our commitment because we’re not skilled, or resilient or talented enough to grow all of our own food.
I am also deeply aware that we all face our own personal hardships, often financial, none of which should be diminished by the particular focus of this piece. If what you’re facing into at this very moment is all that you can bear, that is more than ok, much love and strength to you.
What Tim and Deri did for me when making their extreme hardship known was remind me why I love being part of the fair food community. It’s not just about ensuring food production remains ethical and local, it’s also an extended family of sorts. One that supports its’ members, rallies around them, cooks for them, offers them a hug when they look like they need it. It offers up a village during a time when our sense of community is being challenged and diminished. The fact that Tim and Deri’s fundraising effort has got off to such a great start is proof of this. It’s proof that we’re offering up a collective group hug and a few dollars to boot.
Now, that’s not a feeling I’d get from shopping at a supermarket.
Admittedly Tim and Deri-Anne still have a way to go, so if you’d like to learn more please visit their GoGetFunding Page. Together we can do this. Let’s increase our options for local, ecologically responsible food, not diminish them. I don’t think it’s too dramatic to say our life depends on it.
Images by Matt Burke from our book Seasonal Regional by Sarah Robins