Upon questioning my understanding of food systems, I find an accurate comparison in thinking of a door left slightly ajar. It goes as so: In a dark room, the light from behind a slightly cracked door leeks a sliver of simulated-sunshine onto the floor. Behind the door lies the intricate web that is food systems: farming, food access, health, social justice, institutions, environment, infrastructure, culture, etc. Where my understanding of food systems may have been quite utterly in the dark before, I have gained experiences that have allowed enlightenment.
A summer as the Assistant Farm Manager brought me first hand experience in actually producing food through managing an organic garden and exploring the various aspects of education, business, and environment involved. Expanding from my past Shi Center Fellowship, my current pursuit involves unearthing the story of Dr. Powers research on food deserts in Greenville County. It then follows the work of Dan Weidenbenner at Mill Village Farms and Reece Lyerly at Gardening for Good as they actively take part in the food system. Addressing food access and community vitality, the question arises: How can the multiple initiatives responding to food system issues such as food deserts most effectively/efficiently ensure positive/sustainable change across the boards of social, environment and economical health? In simpler terms, what defines success?
The aspects of producing a video to explore the connections between the above-mentioned variables involve planning and conducting interviews, editing and piecing together footage as I work with Andy, our videographer. But above all it involves telling a story. Using moving images and audio as a medium to
simply yet essentially offer a glimpse inside the lives of individuals and their relationship to, and impact on the world around them.
This past week I was able to attend workshops at the Sustainable Agriculture Conference held here in Greenville. Absorbing all sorts of relevant knowledge revolving around food systems, one presenter, Natasha Bowens (http://browngirlfarming.com/), particularly stood out to me in terms of impact. She re-emphasized the importance of storytelling and offered a refreshing perspective on the representation of race in the farming world. I only caught a glimpse of her story in the hour and a half of the established workshop time, but I question in terms of her impact on me, what defined her success? Perhaps her authenticity and ability to cast connections over everyone in the room.
There are obvious reasons why food systems are relevant to everyone. The inevitable connection is in the reality that we all eat. But all the threads that weave the food system together are not always easily or consciously seen. I hope this video can establish relevancy in the way the various dimensions of food systems are working in our community. Though five minutes of video is only a glimpse, I hope it can still cast connections over those who might come across it.
I catch tiny glimpses of people each day. From casual hellos with acquaintances to deeper talks with friends, conservations chip away at finding out who a person is and work to build bigger relationships. This video is only part of the conservation of a bigger relationship to the world, but we have a role in it.
As I work to tell this story, I know I am still writing mine. I will continue to strive to open doors in the hope that I may see more.