An installment of the “Food Voices” series, showcasing Green Uprising Farm.
WhyHunger is pleased to be partnering with Andrianna Natsoulas, longtime food sovereignty activist and author of the forthcoming book Food Voices: Stories of the Food Sovereignty Movement. In 2010, Andrianna began a journey across the Americas to capture the stories of people working towards and living a just and sustainable food system. As she continues her journey, spanning from Nova Scotia to Ecuador to Brazil and beyond, we will feature highlights of the stories she gathers.
Sara Grusky and her husband, Michael Foley, run Green Uprising Farm at Blackberry Bend in Willits, CA. In 2007, they left their high-paced life in Washington DC to start a farm. After years of working on policy issues, Sara is finally connected to the land — and to the regulatory challenges that small-scale farmers face daily around the United States.
“The best part of farming is that you really get to work for yourself. It’s the first time in my life that my labor hasn’t been alienated from me, that my labor is really mine, so the products of my labor feel very different. It’s exciting to have a piece of land to try to make something out of. Words escape me, but I just feel like it’s the only thing that might save us. In terms of figuring out how to survive in a post-oil, climate change chaos where governments are in chaos as well and the economy is in crisis. So, being able to live in harmony with the land around you and eke a living from it might be the most important thing to learn.
We have seven adult goats and seven baby goats—well, adolescent goats mostly—and they support a 27 family dairy share. There are also some people who occasionally get dairy products from the dairy share and there are some people that occasionally barter. Right now we offer milk, cheese, kefir and yogurt. One of the things that we’ve learned from the dairy share is how ridiculously overregulated and full of obstacles it is to try to do something like a dairy share. It’s because the regulatory environment is really geared towards large dairies and it’s because there’s a long history of fear and misinformation about raw milk. The current dairy share that we have is, I would say, in a quasi-legal gray area and that’s not a very comfortable place to be.
But just think about this for a minute, because small scale, in our case, is eight milking goats. It’s a very small scale. Those eight goats provide dairy products for 27 families. Well, this makes a lot of sense. It makes way more sense than any other model that I can think of, but the only way we can do it is to find some loophole and do something that’s actually quasi illegal but it’s the only thing that really makes sense in terms of having a sustainable local economy.
The Weston Price Foundation has put quite a bit of effort into creating this Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, which provides legal assistance and other kinds of support services for small farmers. Recently, in Massachusetts they were trying to outlaw raw milk, so the Weston Price Foundation bought a cow to graze the Boston Commons1 and milked her and fed people raw milk as a way to sort of protest and expose how ridiculous it is that people milking cows and drinking the milk, which has gone on for millennia, is currently illegal.
1 The Boston Commons was used as a cow pasture for many families in the 1630s. Later, on May 19, 1713, citizens rioted on the Commons in reaction to a food shortage in Boston.