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Virginia Free Farms: A Nonprofit Providing Food Sovereignty
By: Smoke and Bacon
One nonprofit on the Smoke and Bacon App is Virginia Free Farm. Virginia Free Farm provides the community with access to a food pantry, but they also believe in giving people the option to become self-sustaining farmers. The farm is different. Many nonprofits provide people in need with food. While Virginia Free Farm gives free food to many in the community, they understand many people want to provide their families with food without having to rely on charity.
Virginia Free Farm believes in food sovereignty. One founder, Amyrose, said, "[They want to] create alternative modeling to the prevailing agriculture models". And they do this by providing a regional seed bank, teaching people how to grow their food, and providing chicks and other livestock to people and communities. This method of teaching people how to grow their food helps many communities maintain their dignity.
During the lockdown, Virginia Free Farms worked with many families to make sure they could provide their households with nutritious foods. The pandemic was a scary time for us all. Parents and caretakers did not know if they could put food on the table. The unemployment rate was high and the breakdown of the supply chain left grocery store shelves empty. During these chaotic times, the farm continued to keep its food pantry stocked and provided free food to whoever needed it. The nonprofit also helped the community by creating urban gardens and showing people how to grow their food. A few months after the installation of the gardens, the community was able to tend to it on their own and no longer needed the free pantry or the assistance of the nonprofit. They were able to achieve food sovereignty in a time when food scarcity was prevalent. One mother, who was part of the program, stated, "this is great I would much rather do this myself, I don't want to go to the food pantry. It's embarrassing"
The techniques that Amyrose and Derek Foll teach people are also very valuable. Amyrose is Indigenous and part of the Wabanaki Confederacy. They have decided to stay true to Amyrose's roots and they teach people in the community Indigenous ways of growing food and maintaining the land. Derek has stated, "I know that for my wife it is a big thing to make sure that these practices and these traditions and these ways of growing don't get lost".
Amy Rose Foll, Derek Foll, Wade Saxton, Mel Andre