Sowing New Seeds

Published on
July 24, 2011

In late 2009, I read an article in O, The Oprah Magazine about a Binghamton, New York, community that's gone without a neighborhood supermarket for more than 15 years. The piece sparked my interest in communities, fresh food and what happens to people's health when they eat what is merely convenient and/or affordable.

As I followed this Upstate New York neighborhood's efforts to secure a store, I realized that decisions about brick-and-mortar supermarkets are made at the corporate-and-government levels, and the process can drag out interminably.

Not having say-so in those arenas, however, does not stop determined souls from tapping the power and resources they have to get what they need. My intention is to interview leaders around the country who are finding innovative ways to make good food available within their communities.

I've interviewed the manager of a group of urban gardens In Binghamton, NY, where they are experimenting with market gardens.

I plan to follow a geographical scientist as he goes store-to-store in Los Angeles with a team of researchers, tracking the availability of nutritious foods against the backdrop of the communities' chronic, diet-related conditions. His intention is to create a relationship between storeowners and community members.

I'll interview the son of a sharecropper in the Midwest who trains community members food-growing techniques that are both sophisticated and accessible.

And I'll look at the work of a college student who runs a mobile grocery store in several Nashville communities where both markets and transportation are lacking.

I envision writing several feature articles, and then repurposing material for use in schools and children's gardens. I volunteer in a youth garden in Long Beach, CA, where I'm inspired by this age group, which is just beginning to form lifelong eating habits, and is open to trying the produce it has grown.