One question I continue to ask myself as an activist of the food system movement is: How can consumers reconnect with the food they eat and the farmers who grow it? As the distance between farm and plate stretches further and further, so does communication between the people on either end.
I recently came across a Kickstarter project featuring a rice farmer in Ferrisburgh, Vermont planning to transport non-parashable Vermont-produced food items from Vermont's Lake Champlain all the way to New York City's Hudson Bay, all via sail boat!
Kickstarter is an online resource for innovators to display their creative projects to the public with an aim to generate funders. The creators are able to explain the project to as much depth as they would like, and create a vivid and hopefully engaging video to spark the interest of individuals to fund their projects.
The Kickstarter project I watched was called The Vermont Sail Freight Project. Right off the bat I was intrigued, and thought why do such an unheard of task? Publicity? Boredom?
The video opens with Erik Andrus, Vermont rice and beef farmer standing proud with his model sail boat named the Ceres. Throughout the 4 minute video a local folk band plays a thematic sea chantey written specifically for the project, and perfectly composed to highlight the trips unique throwback to historic food-way transportation. The film is composed of different scenery shots of Vermont's natural beauties, Erik, and the model boat. The video stays consistent in its theme, and highlights the excitement and sincerity of the project. For such an insane and seemingly inefficient task, the argument that the video provides makes it seem extremely rational. Erik explains:
"There is no rational reason why non perishable foods need to travel at 75 miles an hour on rubber down the interstate. We can transport 12 to 13 tons of goods without consuming a drop of gasoline 300 miles."
The video appreciates the "time honored practice" of sailboat food transport, whiles also explaining what the project represents today as a new way of business, and a new way to think systematically. The project's message is articulately put. Though Erik does not mention his personal beliefs as a farmer of local practices, he shares the importance of resiliency on a regional scale, and how transportation and other food chain factors are important to penetrate. To make a paradigm shift in the food system, there is a need to spread these ideals outside the farm and consistent throughout the whole system.
This project is a very symbolic and innovative way to tackle a global issue locally, one farmer at a time. I encourage you to look out for The Vermont Sail Freight Project for yourself. It is nice to finally connect communication from the farmer to the consumer, and understand what the farmers growing our food believe in. They are not just the growers of our food, but they are activists reinventing the food system from the roots.