Reconnecting natural cycles and real local food
Many modern kitchens are places where we serve up what good marketing sells us rather than what the land in our own region seasonally provides. Our dependence on single use packaging has become a way of life. I believe we must strive to understand how our consumption and production patterns are connected to our rapidly changing ecosystems, while we still can.
Some grass roots initiatives in The Netherlands are reconnecting urban dwellers to local food. My town of Amersfoort promotes itself as a progressive community that has become home to a younger, well educated population. Residents value the village feel and well preserved historic character that remains at the heart of this medieval walled city. The twice weekly outdoor market is crowded with locals and visitors buying fresh produce, bread, cheese and a wide array of household goods. Yet, these market goods are typically not locally produced and I often wonder if the shoppers care. Are they concerned about the use of chemicals, preservatives and transportation of products over long distances?
Some Amersfoorters are aware and successfully introducing new initiatives focused on local natural products. Three of the many examples include:
- Smaak van de Streek Markt is a seasonal taste from the region which connects local consumers and artisan producers in a social environment that encourages information sharing. The third market held this Fall attracted more than 5,000 people.
- The Minimoestuincoach (small garden coach) provides seeds and weekly instructions to 350 families to grow a one meter square intensive vegetable garden. Positive coaching makes it simple and effective for urban families to grow food in their own back yard, even on a small terrace.
- The Amersfoort Food Collective is organized by members who contribute €20 and a few hours per year to source and distribute local food items. They quickly grew to capacity and are now looking to start a second group.
Let us continue to cultivate awareness that enhances the development of ecologically minded values and behavior. Conscious individual and community effort will more positively shape the enormous physical and social impact of feeding ourselves in our collective life on planet Earth.
Text: Michelle Riefle Keleher
Michelle Riefle Keleher is an architect who specializes in designing ecological solutions for physical and social environments in the community. She teaches Permaculture workshops to children in Amersfoort in The Netherlands where she lives with her family.