Permaculture Guild Hosting Backyard Organic Food Exchange Sunday – August 26, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The produce-laden bicycle of local poet and organic produce exchange co-organizer Jacqueline Suskin, which normally carries her typewriter.

Sharon Letts

Eye Correspondent

ARCATA – The Humboldt Permaculture Guild will host an host exchange of surplus produce from backyard gardens Sunday, Aug. 29 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1158 Spear Ave.

The exchange sponsored by the Humboldt Permaculture Guild with Democracy Unlimited was such a hit last year, organizers decided to try it again this year with much success.

The second exchange has been organized in part by Peter Barker, Peter Oakland and local poet Jacqueline Suskin. Barker said local distribution is as important as local production of produce and food.

“By growing food in space around where we live, we are able to directly connect with the land, and at the same time touch base with our neighbors to see what they are producing,” Barker said.

Keeping close to the source of our food, Barker said, means food security on the short term, but even more important is community security.

“We are hoping that by providing this space we are allowing face to face interactions between community members who are interested in the same things we are; growing food and sharing surplus, for example,” he continued. “If people eat more healthy food they become healthy people, healthy people make more healthy life choices and this in turn helps everyone suffer less.”

Local food, he said, minimizes pollution as well.

“Local, small scale sustainable agriculture produces less waste and builds healthy soil for future generations,” he added.

Community members are on an honor system, showing up with bushels of fresh produce from their own backyards.

“There is no organic certification necessary, but we do ask folks how the food was grown,” Barker said.  “We also tell them that information should be shared with anyone they trade with. We encourage chemical-free gardening practices.”

The first exchange took place a few weeks ago, and organizers say they hope to hold one each month.

“At one point someone brought a pie – it was awesome,” Barker said. “I received a bunch of cabbage I made Sauerkraut. Some people brought plants they had propagated in their gardens.”

Farmers turn out as well, and Barker said Green Fire Farms donated a box of summer squash.

“There was kale, chard, garlic, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, lemon balm, parsley – the list goes on,” Barker continued. In general we all enjoyed ourselves, which the most important thing.”

Fun aside, the organizers see the exchange getting better and bigger each year.

“One project we’ve talked about is creating a map where food is grown locally in abundance,” Barker said. “At some times of the year fruit trees all over town are tipping with fruit. I would like to see groups of community members getting together often to harvest, preserve and share the local bounty. If people all over start getting inspired to have gardens and share food it would be great!”

The next organic produce exchange will be held on Sunday, Aug. 29 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1158 Spear Ave. Participants are asked to bring surplus from backyard gardens, fruit trees. Organizers ask that all food brought be pesticide free.

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