Eating Alaska, a documentary film about women who hunt and the contradictions, apaprent and real, that engenders, will be showing at Noel Wien Library on Monday, December 21 (Solstice!) at 6:30 pm, sponsored by the FCCM. If you missed it last time, you have another chance to see this great film.
The Fairbanks Coop’s Health and Wellness Committee in conjunction with the UAF Peace and Justice Coalition presents a FREE showing of the film Eating Alaska Tuesday night, November 24, at 7 p.m. at UAF’s Schaible Auditorium. Running time is 57 minutes.
We’ll have a brief introduction and open discussion afterwards. All members of the Fairbanks and surrounding community are invited (both present and future members of the Coop!), so invite your friends to a FREE showing of this excellent documentary.
for SARE New Voices Contest
I didn’t grow up on a farm. When I was young, I never learned how to fix a screen door let alone a tractor. I didn’t know which end of a seed to plant in the ground. If you had told me twenty years ago that I would own the farthest north certified organic farm in the country, I would have told you that you must be crazy.
I come from a long line of Jewish tailors who never ventured too far from the city. My connections with agriculture were like many kids growing up in suburban America – with the pictures of fields of grain on cereal boxes or occasional trips to the “country” to visit an apple orchard or to see goats and rabbits at a petting zoo. But my parents always had a garden we always liked to eat and we liked to eat good fresh food. This is how I came to agriculture – through gardening. Through getting back to that connection with where your food comes from and acting on it. I wanted that feeling of looking down a row of crops and feeling that connection with the plants and soil and the thousands of years of farmers and gardeners before me – food growers.
It took me a while to get into farming. It didn’t come until my mid-thirties, when after many years of having a garden, I quit my day job and followed the dream of many back-to-the land folks before me. I had no idea of what I was doing, but I expanded the garden, bought a rototiller and Elliot Coleman’s “The New Organic Grower”, and started to make a go of it as a market farmer. It certainly hasn’t been easy, especially since we live in interior Alaska square in the middle of agricultural zone 1. There is very little historical farmland where we live. Our farm was literally carved out of the Alaska wilderness with a chainsaw and bulldozer – hardly a soft footprint on the land. But we justified the destruction of 10 acres of our forest with the belief that having a farm and feeding people was, in the end, a good thing for the community. After all, wasn’t that what all farmers had originally done? Also by farming organically, we hoped we were insuring a healthy environment for any wildlife that used the farm, for ourselves and our workers, and for those who ate our produce. The demand for quality local produce is high, and despite our growing pains as a farm, we are still able to stay afloat with a lot of hard work, and all of our savings. After 10 years, we have a healthy farm and an increasingly successful business.
Since I come from this new movement of market gardeners turned farmer, my models for success and role models to seek advice from have been organic farmers many with similar experience as I but with more years under their belt. We have learned the appropriate models for ecologically sound agriculture and the goals for our farm are the same as the goals for many farms like ours across the country – to minimize off-farm inputs while maintaining high soil fertility, to produce high quality and healthy produce, and maintain a profitable business.
We think about sustainability a lot in Alaska, however most of the discussion focuses on natural fish and wildlife populations and their relation to subsistence versus commercial harvest. There is little talk about sustainable agriculture, but there should be. Although one’s vision of Alaska might be one of a hunter alone on the tundra, we get most of our food like the rest of America – from large supermarkets run by huge corporations. If the average piece of food travels approximately 1500 miles from producer to consumer in the rest of the country, it travels much farther to us in Alaska. For this reason, and many others, we should be concerned about sustainability on a local and community scale.
If our state seems extreme, it is but a microcosm of the country as a whole. We need to look within our own communities for inputs to agriculture and other resources. Our model for farming does follow a community approach. Eating locally is not just a buzzword for marketing – although that is very effective – but it also should be the way we do business. “Thinking globally and acting locally” is not only the right thing to do for the earth, it is the only economical thing to do. With the cost of fuel rising ever higher coupled with high shipping costs, we have to think very carefully what it is we import. Looking at ways to improve the soil, create energy, and market crops must be local in order for us to make a living and feel as though we’re living our lives for the betterment of our community.
Small-scale and locally marketed agriculture should not be just a fringe or niche economy. By showing that we can make a living while growing healthy crops by ecologically sound methods we will make ourselves assets in our local economies by encouraging both new farmers and intelligent agriculture. It will continue to cost more for food, but we cannot keep going down the path of large scale commodity agriculture transported huge distances or we will be paying a higher and higher price for the wrong reasons.
I can now fix a screen door, sometimes fix my tractor and plant seeds right side up. If the son of a long line of Jewish tailors can carve out a niche in small scale agriculture, then I’m optimistic that this growing movement of community-centered agriculture can keep gaining momentum. We need to invest in community agriculture – it is at the core of sustainability.
Rosie Creek Farm
First Health and Wellness Eduction Committee Meeting:
Thank you all who made it to this meeting in spite of the slippery roads!
Last Wednesday we held our first Health and Wellness Education Committee at our downtown volunteer center. We had a great turnout with 11 folks interested excited and enthusiastic about educating our community about getting and staying healthier.
We had a great group of folks with interests varying from natural child birth to cooking organic and vegan food to holistic health care and teas.
Many different ideas were shared including classes on healthy and economical cooking, a lecture series, finding good articles to share on our blog site, and starting a reference library for our co-op.
What we decided on as a start was to show a food and health related film. Several were suggested such as Food Inc. and Eating Alaska.
We will be meeting again next Wednesday at 6 pm (that’s Nov. 4) in our volunteer center with the goal of choosing a movie, a venue, and a date. In the meantime we will be checking out what films and venues are available and thinking about what we want to do next.
Please come to the Health and Wellness Education Committee’s first meeting:
6 PM Wednesday October 28th
FCCM Volunteer Center
542-4th Suite 100B
(This is beneath the Veterans Affairs office. Go in the door to the right of the Vet office and down the stairs. The door will be unlocked until 6:45)
Join us for our first Health and Wellness Education Committee meeting. Even before our store is open we can begin to serve our members by providing health education and information to the community. We need your help in planning what sort of activities and things we can do to encourage and support a healthy and well Fairbanks.
For more information, please contact Sharon Alden.
Richard Seifert, an energy and housing specialist with the Cooperative Extension Service, will be giving a talk on sustainable community movements (“Connecting University Research to Communities”), Wednesday, Oct. 21, from 6:30 to 8 pm at Noel Wien Library (1215 Cowles in Fairbanks). This talk is part of the Community Energy Forum, sponsored by the Alaska Center for Energy & Power, the Renewable Energy Alaska Project, and the Extension Service.
Seifert will discuss community gardens, home weatherization, renewable energy, education, and local organizations that are working to build sustainable communities.
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You can help the market get on its feet, and it’s easy!
2. Join our Facebook group. If you have a Facebook account, you can keep tabs on the latest news, participate in discussions, and see who else is involved with the market.
3. Join an FCCM committee. There are many ways you can use your expertise to help make the market a reality. The committees are: Business Plan Committee, Finance Committee, Store Design Committee, Vendor Selection Committee, Health & Wellness Education Committee, Operations Committee, Product Selection Committee, and the Communications/Outreach Committee.
4. Attend a board meeting. The next one is Thursday, June 25 at the old Foodland building at 6 pm.
5. Sit a table for the FCCM at your favorite festival. E-mail the Outreach Committee for more info.
With a lofty goal of opening Fairbanks Community Cooperative Market (Co-op Market) by 2011 there are many tasks at hand. Committees have been formed and many need volunteers. Won’t you help it fly? You can volunteer a little of your time or a lot.
There are many small tasks to do so if you can sign up for even one small task it will be a blessing and you will enjoy the fruits of your labor as you shop our own little grocery store next summer.
To find out how you can best serve the Co-op Market e-mail email@example.com or call 457-1023. Or contact one of the committee chairs and let them know you want to participate in that committee.
Business Plan Committee – Board of Directors
This committee is central to the organization as it is organizing all the pieces that go into creating a good business plan. HOWEVER, the work of the other committees is absolutely necessary to putting together a good business plan. Tasks involved include:
1. Putting together the estimates that come from the other committees into a formal business plan..
2. Determining a final estimate of the funds necessary for the project before seeking funding
Finance Committee – Committee chair – Hans Geier – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This committee is responsible for developing sources of funding including:
- Bank Loans
- Member loan Program – The committee must research and form a legal structure for member loans.
Store Design – Committee Chair – Robert Leach – Email email@example.com
Local Producers and Product Selection Committee – Chair –Cora Kelley – Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Identify potential vendors from the Tanana Valley and around Alaska
- Create a member survey to be utilized in the blueprint of the Co-op Market
- Determine criteria for product selection with a priority on local products when available
Health and Wellness Education – Chair – Sharon Alden – Email email@example.com
Operations Committee – Chair – Mary Christensen E-mail fccm2010@gmail.
The work of this committee is almost complete.
Communications/Outreach Committee – Chair – Mary Christensen Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 347-4463
- Organize membership equity drive
- Hold fundraising events
- Advertisement and promotion
- Communicate with membership on a regular basis
- Website and blog updates
- Responsible for annual meeting
The numerous activities involved with outreach require a lot of help. Many people already participate but we can always use more creative minds!
FCCM will be participating at the Health Fair being held at the Friends Community Church, 1485 30th Ave., April 17 – April 18, 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. this event offers low cost blood tests, free medical screenings, and an abundant array of health educators! To volunteer contact Tom and Barb @ email@example.com.
The next Outreach / Communications/ Membership committee meeting will be Wednesday, April 15th at 6:00 p.m. This meeting will be to prepare for the Health Fair by creating the display and preparing informational handouts. Please come to the meeting if you’re interested in volunteering. This will be held at the University View Bed & Breakfast (directions here).