Local Food Advocacy

In 2012, GOT Farms students continued collaborations with community groups to advocate for local foods in the Bethel-area. Early in the year, GOT Farms students and advisors worked with other educational garden groups to plan a “Local Food Forum” and student retreat at the UMaine 4H Bryant Pond Camp. The student groups involved came from from Telstar Middle/High School, Crecent Park Elementary, Woodstock Elementary, and Buckfield Jr./Sr. High School. This event was held over two days at the camp, with students staying Saturday into Sunday. We all participated in service learning and leadership activities on Saturday, then the public was invited join us on Sunday for an Open Spaces-style forum designed to create collaboration around our local foods movement.

  • Local Food Forum and Retreat – April 2012

We had several adult community members participate the forum, which was advertised to gardeners, farmers, restaurants, and anyone with an interested in creating, consuming, or distributing local foods. As a result of this forum, student groups gained a deeper understanding of their own projects as well as the projects of other groups. We also planted the seeds of several local foods advocacy ideas that are still growing today through our continued collaborative efforts. These ideas include a local foods community survey, a local foods cooking workshop series, a local foods website, and an expansion of the educational gardening opportunities in the Bethel-area.

In May, GOT Farms students attended the 3rd annual BANC (Bethel-Area Non-Profit Collaborative) Forum, where they spent the day sharing ideas about youth and community collaborations, and the roles that BANC representatives can play in supporting those collaborations. GOT Farms students met with adults involved with the Bethel-area local foods advocacy group, “The Local Food Connection” (LFC). We continued discussions that began at the Local Foods Forum in April, and began more serious planning for future local foods advocacy efforts.

  • BANC Forum – May 2012

In September, the LFC invited GOT Farms students to participate in an educational booth at Bethel’s annual “Harvestfest” celebration. The booth was designed to promote the LFC, distribute the new local foods community survey, and teach people about the importance of honey bees to local foods. GOT Farms students ran a coloring table for young children with several bee-themed coloring pages. They also learned many facts about bees while sitting beside a presentation-hive all day and listening to local bee-keeper Roy Cronkhite answer questions from visitors.

  • Bethel Harvestfest – 2012

In October, GOT Farms collaborated with LFC to plan a local foods advocacy event. “Do You Eat? Eating is for Everyone!”, held on October 20th, 2012, was a free local foods dinner and community event designed to engage community members in thinking about what they’re eating. This event presented “what we eat” using a systems approach.  The “food system” includes food production, processing,  distribution, consumption and waste management.  Our food system impacts our health, our economy, our environment, as well as issues of  social justice.  In an interactive environment, the presenters shared some of what they know about our local food system and invited participants to share some local knowledge as well.

At the end of the event, participants were invited join in a community food mapping activity led by GOT Farms student volunteers. With several interactive mapping stations set up around the event, students helped community members to mark local foods points of interest our community food map – both on physical maps hung on the wall, and on an online map of the Bethel-area local food system. The goal of this activity was to create a clearer picture of our local food system and identify areas where specific actions might improve the system to make it more sustainable and secure.

In preparation for this event, GOT Farms students worked together to create posters and flyers.  In addition, 20 Telstar Middle and High School students attended a full-day GPS mapping workshop at Telstar presented by the Center for Community GIS. This workshop included an introduction to geospatial technologies, location, and GPS skills. Students also learned about how GPS technology and community mapping are being used throughout the world to benefit communities, businesses, and other organizations. At the end of the workshop, students learned specific online mapping skills that were later applied in the GPS community mapping activity at the “Do You Eat?” event. For more information about the Center for Community GIS, visit their website: http://www.community-gis.org.

  • GPS Workshop and Community Food Mapping- October 2012

GOT Farms will continue our work with local foods advocacy in partnership with BANC, The LFC, and other community organizations and groups. If you have any ideas for new and creative advocacy efforts, or if your group would like to collaborate with GOT Farms in any way, please let us know.