Community Food Projects Grantee Spotlight: Rippling Waters Farm

This spotlight is a feature in a series of the USDA Community Food Project Competitive Grant Program (CFP). Grantees are doing some of the most innovative and collaborative projects to change local and regional food systems. WhyHunger’s Food Security Learning Center — also funded by a CFP grant — is profiling these organizations through dynamic stories and pictures, to give a real flavor of what the projects look like and how they’re accomplishing their goals. Up today: Rippling Waters Farm, Standish, ME. Story and picture by David Hanson.

130607_WHY_ME_RipplingWatersFarm_152There’s nothing easy about farming. You can’t dabble in it. That’s gardening or plantation farming. Farming for real is a lifestyle. And farming in purely organic, bio-diverse ways on a small scale for commercial sales in a low-income community is as hard as it gets. Next to impossible with the current situation of farming subsidies throughout the US.

So Richard Rudolph will be getting out of the business. He’ll be 74 years old soon, and he has eleven acres, one farm manager, three apprentices, a few come-and-go WOOFers, and a couple volunteers. Part of the farm thrives in permaculture, one of the most labor-intensive growing methods. So Richard’s looking to find a new executive director for the non-profit farm or find another non-profit interested in folding Rippling Waters into an existing program.

Either way, Richard will have established a legacy in Standish, Maine. He and his program will have built five school gardens and a solar-powered greenhouse at the schools in the rural Maine School Administrative District #6 where roughly 40-60% of students qualify for free-reduced lunches. He will have introduced hundreds of youth and working-class families to healthy, local (and, by the way, certified organic) produce grown in the same sandy soil that the kids play baseball and ride bikes on. And he will have walked his talk.

Richard spent his life in academia, a professor in a hybrid of history, social sciences, urban planning, sustainability courses, and, later as an academic dean at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. He walked the line between teaching the theories of green energy, sustainable community planning, international arms races, and global warming, and trying somehow to live that in his life. For part of his career, Richard lived in an intentional community that raised apples commercially.

He believes teaching is political work because you are always presenting something from your personal frame of reference. Information must pass through the teacher’s prism before being placed before the student. There is no possible way to be completely objective. The philosophy of farmer-teacher-activist seems to move through Richard’s every action like oxygen and red blood cells.


Read the full profile at the Food Security Learning Center

Siena Chrisman