Big City Lights…and Agriculture

When you live in rural Southwest Virginia, it’s hard to imagine what “Urban Agriculture” looks like. I am in awe of those who have the ability to grow things inside old buildings, parking decks and their basement! And when I say “things”, I mean rows of produce that could feed hundreds or even thousands of people every week! Even though these producers may not fit the description of a “typical” producer….they are part of the community just the same. The opportunity to visit these different farms and see their production practices has allowed me to bring back valuable knowledge for all producers in Grayson County. We have a growing interest in increasing access to fresh foods and produce…one way to help is understanding how to produce larger quantities in smaller spaces. Community gardens and local Farmer’s Markets are vital in getting produce into the hands of the community.

Working with producers on how they can work together to increase access to fresh, healthy foods is extremely important in combating our local food deserts. The DC Central Kitchen was an amazing example of bringing community together. They resource local foods, prepare foods for the community and local schools and provide job skill training and job opportunities. It’s truly an all-encompassing program that combats the lack of access to healthy foods AND unemployment.

In our visit to USDA, we heard from several national leaders…but I was most impressed with the discussion on human nutrition and the effort that’s being put into educating Americans on healthy eating and better nutrition habits. I’m concerned at the number of people on medications for health problems that could be avoided, lowered in intensity or eliminated if they were just taught healthier eating habits. In my own health and fitness journey I am continually amazed at how much sugar is included in foods and how addictive it truly is. Working together to produce fresh foods, make access easier and educate on the importance of healthy eating habits is an extremely large job…but has been proven to be possible…one community at a time.

Spending four days in Washington D.C. made me realize how important it is for small, rural communities to have a connection to what’s going on as far as policy making is concerned. The Farm Credit Council and Farm Bureau are both wonderful organizations that employ representatives who understand Agriculture, know how rural communities work and what they need to be successful. They represent producers of all commodities, from all communities and every background. Listening and learning from these experts has given me the confidence to speak up for Grayson County producers and bring their concerns to local officials and beyond.

If you ask anyone what are some characteristics of a good leader, you will get many different answers. During the time spent with our National Leaders two came up more often than not….building relationships and empowering people. To quote former USDA Deputy Secretary Dr. Jewel Bronaugh “every leader comes for their time”. If you build those relationships and empower people you can ensure the impact you’ve had during your time as a leader will be continued through the next generations.

1 thought on “Big City Lights…and Agriculture”

  1. Excellent blog, Lyndsie! I also appreciated the focus on what’s being done to encourage healthy eating habits and working to make these options more available to all.

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