Increasing Food Sovereignty Through Grassroots Efforts, Part II

In my last post, I wrote about the importance of better understanding food sovereignty. This means that we, as the consumers, know more about the food we are eating. This is good, not only for our physical health, but also because it empowers and supports individual freedom. And, while each of us may take the initiative to properly understand what we are eating, the development of grassroots movements may create momentum for larger societal paradigm shifts.

A grassroots movement may gain momentum through the establishment and use of a nonprofit organization. Nonprofits are tax-exempt organizations that typically provide services to target populations within a defined geographic area. As a nonprofit, revenue generation is used specifically to continue programmatic work offered by the organization. They do not make sales, in the same sense as a for-profit entity or corporation, but they may implement a pay-for-service model that at least partially supports the offered activities. Many of the programmatic activities of nonprofits center on education, often a major strategy that satisfies the organization's mission and purpose.

An education strategy may be carried out in several ways, but I will only discuss a few ideas here:

Create a curriculum that may be used for teachers in K-12 schools. This curriculum may be more lecture-oriented and standards-aligned, or, as is very important for environmental education, may be more hands-on and field-based. The curriculum may also include the development of a database of potential speakers that may make guest visits to a classroom. Whatever the educational program may look like, grounding the instruction in place is important. There is more value in education that contextualizes experience in locale because students already have some understanding of their community.

Offer private landowner training sessions. These sessions may be designed to better inform landowners about relevant land management and agricultural methods. Depending upon the goal of the nonprofit, the specific content knowledge and instructional pedagogy will be designed to achieve that purpose. The role that landowner trainings have in achieving part of a nonprofit's education strategy may include specific farming techniques or local farming as a source of economic development. These trainings may also include information that promotes social responsibility and environmental conservation, perhaps an essential element of the nonprofit's mission.

Establish an internship program in conjunction with a local college and university. This internship program should be available to students who are completing requirements in a relevant degree program. The internship may be paid or unpaid (depending upon available funding; there are funding sources available from local or state businesses that may support a paid internship program). The intern(s) may participate in many types of activities, including the two mentioned above and other programmatic or developmental endeavors supported by the nonprofit.

The approached outlined briefly here, for a lack of better phrasing, provides a cradle to grave experience that may help to satisfy the education strategy of a nonprofit. There are many other avenues of education program implementation that may be useful, and perhaps more relevant, to your community. I suggest that you think creatively about the potential and see where it leads you, but never forget that some ideas are better ideas. If we are to increase individual freedoms and food sovereignty, then doing so in service to others in our communities will surely be a productive endeavor.