Since 2009, I’ve been deeply engaged in working toward creative policy solutions to address challenges facing small, diversified farms and our customers. Beginning in Sedgwick, Penobscot and Blue Hill in 2011, the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance was adopted at our respective annual town meetings. Now in 2018, thirty communities across Maine have followed the lead of the first three towns in Hancock County that adopted the ordinance. It would take close to a decade of persistent effort to enact the Maine Food Sovereignty Act at the state level and the work continues still to support more towns and cities working to enact food sovereignty. Food sovereignty, at its most basic, is ensuring that the people who grow food and eat food are making the decisions, rather than industrial food monopolies working through government agencies.
When food sovereignty becomes a matter of discourse in state elections, we have reached a whole new realm of possibility for Maine to feed Maine. There is but one gubernatorial candidate, to my knowledge, who is talking about food sovereignty and farming policy beneficial to small, diversified farms. She has come to our farm, seen late winter in the barns and snowy fields, and has reached out to include our work in her bid for governor.
Her name is Betsy Sweet.
In her words, “… Farmers are reinvigorating our agricultural communities, attracting young people to the state, and providing us all with the opportunity to eat healthy, locally grown and made food. Specifically, we must encourage municipalities to pass food sovereignty ordinances, allowing neighbors to sell to neighbors as we have done for centuries without the interference of big government.”
This is a candidate worthy of our imagination, earnest consideration and support. Imagine a governor in the Blaine House who would actively promote food sovereignty and diversified farming in the state of Maine! And, not just to help the 1-2 percent of us who are growing food, or the larger margin of you who eat it, but because she understands that small, diversified farms are an elemental building block of society. From a solid foundation of farming in our communities can grow stronger rural economies, improved health and well-being and an inter-connectedness that becomes a fabric of resilience in harsh times.