LIVE BLOG: Building Sustainable Food Networks

Our partner and Director of Library at Myers University, Rich Brhel, is reviewing the Myers Business Directory; a platform to serve the local business community. Survey Monkey is the Internet platform used for the 18 survey questions developed by Rich and Joyce Banjac, Dean of the Myers Business School. The survey is directed to companies, organizations. This is a trial phase and the University is looking for feedback on the questions for the official roll out in July. Rich is also coordinating a list of library resources that connect to the various listings. If the University develops classes on information literacy, the research could be done by the students, offering another way to integrate students with business. One of the questions addresses whether or not the company would be willing to engage students.

There are several ways to engage others in Midtown. Forums are new open "civic" spaces that offer anyone who has initiative to come together and to work on transformative white papers, proposals and new business development.

Melvin Hendrix leads the forum today. Melvin thinks deeply about the urgency of innovation for all ways sustainable. Melvin's passions are in cultivating soil and good water management. He has in depth experience as a practitioner working across the world and, in Africa. Melvin specializes in writting curriuclum to teach others about these subjects and practical next steps in new applications.

There is a need for new approaches for local agriculture and new thinking around how we will feed the next generation. We need to focus on how each community is going to address local food needs. Refer to the Leopold Institute. The following sections are organized into areas of connectivity that if strengthened, can accelerate useful innovation.

Leveraging Global Networks: Holland, for example, is know for international trade. Holland 20 years ago was a super charged hub of international business. Melvin studied in Holland and was involved in many early initiatives. One example was an effort to bring bikes into Holland; groups found manufacturers from all over the world who could supply various styles of bikes.

Delivery and Logistics of Product: The current system of agriculture is not sustainable. The peach you had this morning came from California; was fertilized by prodcut manufacturered in the Middle East. We are focused on siloed production resources.

We have lost 4M farms in 50 years. If you see barren patches in the midsts of fertile land; not reducing hunger - hunger is rising, we are eating more nutrient poor foods than ever before. This is a case of garbarge in and garbage out.

What do we need?
We need a new way of looking at things and long term. Also difficult for individuals to look at solving food problems. You are operating alone - this is why Farmer's Markets are successful because alot of like-minded people come together to share conversation. The farmers markets do not build a better economy though. A combination of rural and urban begins to rebuild rural, urban and sustainable communities. The need to be there is not as necessary because of the virtual opportunity today.

We need a system to protect our water resources. Especially here in this region. We need a system that encourages environmental stewardship and social diversity; something that promotes biodiversity among all of us, is a strength. We need a system that expands the resources we have but conserves through better distribution of higher quality products.

A good book to read: The Planet of Sloums, Mike Davis. Go here.

Here's what needs to change:

1) Agriculture policy to strengthen small and mid sized farms
2) Diminishing of Agri-businesses and a strengthening of Horticulutre which is local and collaborative. Farming is no longer a career; corporate farms are dominating corporate farms

Achieving Food Security:
What we can do:
1.) Change of behaviors and habits; this the year of Benjamin Franklin and he would start with himself...then we begin to pull in our friends and family
2.) Supports for:
- Electoral politics must be changed. No one individual can be registered. In Ohio, when every individual turns 18 they should be automatically registered to vote. Other states
- Zoning laws need to be changed. So that systems are more flexible; for example Europe has residential and rural ...A block Party network needs to be connected to the Farmers Market in Midtown.
- communication through block clubs
- Education, mentoring, constructing
- Profitability

Experiments are being started in other parts of the world where the optimum population is 80,000 people. How for example, can you lice in a syscraper that is 100 flooers. Factories and more factories are single floors. In China, alternate spaces balconies and rooftops are used to grow. Just how high are we willing to live and walk up?

Q: Will populations be only around areas that can support land based growing?
A: we don't need to have land based agriculture anymore. We don't need to wait 6 years to be qualified as organic soil. Some crops require land based orientation but most do not. We don't need to keep pushing grain down livestock to satisfy our traditional diets.

We are being starved by eating too much. A story: Melvin was in Malrusha; he purchased a kabob of goat. Melvin was never able to chew the field range meat - like we are accustomed to chew in the US. However, the

Baroqu Obama: recently made a speech

Brad has the model of City Fresh: they are looking for distribution. This could revitalize local farmers and provide the income for them to consider reinvigorating their lands.

Rather than waiting for government, there are entrepreneurs who can move forward on the opportunities. There are individuals in the government who do get it and who people can connect with to move ideas and enterprises forward.

The Paw Paw is a good example of local food that create an excitement and help people to connect.

If you are in a municipality you will find people who are moving forward. How about a field trip to Athens to visit and learn from ACENet and the community.

Jim Herget: working with local municipalities the important thing is to let others discover over time what is a good idea. Leverage the newspapers to affect the politians.

Here's how too often politians think: Least hassle and maximum glory.

A good lesson from the I-Open curriculum is to evaluate your networks.

What are some of the other businesses that might apply to

growing , processing, distributing, to buyers. This is a wholistic system. Compost itself is a pest control itself.

Michigan State had a joint program going with McDonalds to move around garbage. Brand this as Homeland Security --- Food Security.
Why not use 4 - 5 floors for growing?

Isn't this a question of networks? Sometimes the wholesale prices don't cover the cost of food. We still need the intermeidary still to give the farmer a good price and get the food sold. The current price matrix's are unreasonable.

1.) There is a need for a network
2.) We lack political support to get it done
3.) Have people think in profitability terms that this is not a hobby

In the MidWest we have July 1 targets for peas and potatoes. Other states don't have this. What can we do July 1st next year in Midtown? Grow from the ground.

We need to wake up and laugh
We are trying to take the weather, fertilizer, energy and labor out of this. This is the HEZ model.

What can the HEX model look like?
This has an urban focus with linkages to the small farms in NEO. We are talking about processing, production a whole system approach.

Build many community gardens with great rewards; beautiful to the eye
Global water harnessing systems.
Sustainable locval jobs based on daily needs. Local nursery's cannot get enough labor...why not exchange labor for food and a little labor. We should be able to make this work.
Use renewable and sustianble to link geo-thermal in Midtown to Trinity Cathedral for examle.
Green construction businesses
This will stablize families and create secure neighborhoods

(There is a big difference between rich soil and dirt. Melvin grew up in the South where you can smell the rain comign because you can smell the earth. This smell is no longer there.)

Who can help get a HEZ started in Midtown? Get a demonstration project going.

Build linkages. This is a collaborative venture with people who already have an interest in aligned activities. Melvin has written three proposals this week.


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