Dresdale/My Turn: The year 2050

After decades of trial and error, hunger and obesity, struggle with climate change and then new innovations, the people of Greenfield triumphed. It was the year 2050, and everyone, everyone had enough food to eat.

How did this come to be, you might ask? Not only did the people change their ways of growing food, preparing food and cycling nutrients from food, but, more notably, there was a shift in the hearts, minds and world-views of the people.

The words “local” and “sustainable” slowly left the people’s lexicons. They were living and eating only sustainably and locally, so there was no need to differentiate. Likewise, being food secure was no longer a primary goal, since the people went beyond food security and became food sovereign.

From the students at the schools, to the employees at the hospital, to the farmers living in the meadows, everyone decided how, where, and what food was grown and eaten. At a young age, everybody learned how to capture their own rainwater for drinking and irrigation, how to grow their own vegetables and raise their own meat, how to process and preserve fruits and dairy, how to hunt and how to fish.

No longer was there a psychological divide between areas rural, urban and agricultural. Land was seen as land, all of it prospectively bountiful and inherently important. Food was grown on marginal land. Conventional farming gained companions as people learned about perennial agriculture, agroforestry, rotational grazing of livestock and bio-intensive cultivation. Greenfield became a town in a farm rather than a few farms in a town. The people were swimming in food just as they were swimming in the Green River and the food was flowing all yearlong.

And how did they arrive in such a foodscape, rich with community and renewed natural resources? The people started waking up and taking responsibility for harm to themselves, their community, and to the land.

And then … they started getting active. They received a USDA Community Food Project grant. They formed a Franklin County Food Council, which guided new efforts and new ways of thinking about food. They reached for the Greenfield Food Study compiled by Greenfield Community College students and began to implement recommended changes to strengthen their food system; school children became involved and demanded fresh food in their cafeterias and micro-farms on the sprawling lawns of their school grounds. Doctors prescribed whole grains, fermented foods and pasture-raised meat as preventative medicine. Corner stores became cornucopias of fruit and eggs and herbal teas. GCC became a revitalized grange where people could come learn how to homestead, start farms and form value-added food businesses. Green Field’s Market expanded to multiple cooperative enterprises such as human-powered food distribution, downtown aquaculture for production, rooftop garden installation and decentralized compost collection. CISA invested in a permanent marketplace for the new daily farmer’s market, where people could shop and farmers could vend, rain or shine, June or December. Greening Greenfield partnered with the City’s Street Tree Committee and planted fruit and nut trees on the medians to offer public produce for all. The Town Planning Board changed zoning to allow for turkeys, goats, and cows, oh my. The mayor offered new tax incentives for residents to transform their chemical and fossil-fuel guzzling lawns into victory gardens to show their allegiance to Greenfield’s prosperous future. Just Roots expanded their operations to downtown where their new urban farm allowed people without cars to learn farming skills and gain access to fresh food. Big Y and Stop & Shop became cooperatively owned and made a contract to source food from within a 50-mile radius and eliminate all packaging from their products sold in the store. In order to be resilient in the face of drought, Regenerative Design Group invested in a keyline plow and veggie-oil-run earth-moving equipment and installed ponds on hillsides and managed landscapes to store water. The Community Development Corporation acquired new properties up and down Wells Street and expanded cold storage using passive cooling methods. And food was shipped and traded up and down the valley and into the hills using waterways and electric train transport.

And in this green jewel of a town, Greenfield saw the bees returning from Colony Collapse Disorder, the children and their parents recovering from diabetes and heart conditions, and the flourishing of new businesses, nonprofits, and community projects that cut across race, class, and political divides. People now lived in a beautiful, walkable, bikeable community where food, water, fresh air, and a culture of respect and reciprocity abounded. The people of Greenfield remembered the hard times, the scary times when they thought they didn’t have a chance. And they will continue to live to tell about how they transformed a broken world into a new Eden.

The Greenfield Food Study, co-authored by Abrah Dresdale, can be viewed or downloaded here: http://issuu.com/greenfield_food_study

Abrah Dresdale is certified in Permaculture Design and holds a master’s degree in Sustainable Landscape Design and Planning from the Conway School. She is coordinator of the Farm and Food Systems program at Greenfield Community College where she teaches Introduction to Food Systems and Permaculture Design. She co-advises the Permaculture Club on campus and serves as the Garden Coordinator for the college’s new “Living Laboratory” permaculture garden. She has taught permaculture design courses at Permaculture f.e.a.s.t in Northampton, Southern Vermont Permaculture in Brattleboro, Wesleyan University and UMass-Amherst.

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