This is an excerpt from AdkAction’s and Essex Farm Institute at the Adirondack Council’s submission to the Rockefeller Foundation’s Food System Vision Prize. Written by Brittany Christenson, Executive Director, AdkAction in February of 2020.
It is the year 2050. Elijah is a vegetable farmer that lives in Essex County, NY with his family. Elijah works full time on his farm and grows 220 acres of diversified organic vegetables. The farm’s facilities are all solar-powered and its tractors are fully electric. The farm has many greenhouses that are heated so Elijah and his staff can produce fresh vegetables all year long. The greenhouses are also automated to ensure that each plant receives the appropriate amount of water and natural nutrients to optimally grow. The sidewalls of the greenhouses are also automated to optimize air temperature and airflow.
In the field, Elijah employs farmworkers from the local community as well as climate refugees. The refugees and local employees receive the same treatment, wages, and benefits. Elijah makes a profit from selling his vegetables, but in lean years his salary is subsidized by the health insurance industry and as a farm owner he receives a guaranteed minimum salary for his hard work.
Each week, Elijah and his team meet the food hub driver near their solar-powered walk-in cooler and load the truck with vegetables that will be sent to a variety of farmers’ markets, restaurants, value-added food businesses, and other retailers. Ten percent of the weekly harvest will be distributed to the region’s network of food shelves.
Elijah’s friend Lexi is also a farmer. She raises pork and grows mushrooms a few towns away. She sells most of her mushrooms at the Pharmacy in her small town where customers buy mushrooms not only for their nutritional qualities but for their well-understood medicinal benefits as well. Lexi’s pigs are slaughtered on-site in the mobile slaughterhouse facility that visits her farm as needed throughout the year saving Lexi time and money and providing peace of mind that her pigs are able to be humanely slaughtered in an environment that they are accustomed to.
At the local food hub, Elijah’s vegetables and Lexi’s pork are processed and turned into value-added products, like pulled pork sandwiches and coleslaw. Prepared meals like these help busy young families that are now flourishing in the area eat well between school, work, and play.
Elijah has two children and is happy to know that they receive excellent nutrition at school. The public school that his children attend even buys vegetables from the local food hub that is grown right at his farm. Elijah’s son Michael talks with his friends at school about their life on the farm and learn about the many ways their peers are also linked to the local food system. Michael was interested to learn from his friend Sarah that her mother volunteers at the local food shelf in exchange for groceries from local farms.
After school, Michael rides his bike home to the farm and finds his parents participating in an ecology class near the wetlands that are located on the edge of the farm. He learns that the water samples are coming back clean and pure since his family hasn’t used pesticides or synthetic fertilizers on the farm since his grandfather’s generation. The wetlands are full of life and Michael spots a Great Blue Haron fishing in the marsh. He decides to get his fishing pole and try to catch something, too.
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