Regardless of your politics most of us came out of the recent presidential election with "one wheel down and the axle dragging" as they say in Texas. We were just all ready for it to be over. Now that the results are in we all have to focus on the future and how to create the change we want to see in the new reality we face. That work will look different for each of us, but we can't just leave the axle dragging. We've got to get out the spare and keep on driving.
At Southern SAWG, the future to which we aspire is one of sustainable food and farming systems across the South. We believe in the triple bottom line — ecologically sound, economically viable and socially just. The individuals and organizations who make up the network that is "Southern SAWG" (that's YOU!) have been doing this for a long time and we're a pretty scrappy group. We know how to change a tire. We have been instrumental in making some major changes in the food system over the past few decades. Just notice how much more consumers are demanding "sustainable", "organic" and "local" foods now, how popular farmers' markets and CSAs have become, and how many more people are entering farming now that there are so many fine examples of sustainable farming enterprises to serve as models and inspiration. Much of this has been done without any federal assistance at all, and indeed, we've dealt with major barriers all along. But yet, we have continued to grow!
Will the results of the recent election bring about change? You can count on it. Some of it may be good and some not so good, but regardless of what changes come, this group is going to keep on driving. For Southern SAWG, this is the time to focus on better and more efficient ways to collaborate and communicate. It will be a time to listen and learn and perhaps find some new allies in unexpected places. For you, we hope it is a time to come together with others that are invested in providing healthy foods for local communities and capitalize on what can be accomplished if we work together.
We hope you will join us as we move forward. One excellent place to get engaged is at the upcoming Southern SAWG conference in Lexington, Kentucky, just a week after Inauguration Day. This conference not only provides practical tools and solutions for sustaining family farms, it provides inspiration to take on the challenging work to which we are committed. Here is what Daniel Doyle from Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network recently said about Ricardo Salvador, one of our keynoters for the upcoming conference:
"Dr. Ricardo Salvador is a beacon of light for us looking for a future that cares for the planet and for one another. His keynote at the Mississippi Food Summit this year was brilliant and inspirational, leaving us with a hope for our work and a faith in one another that has been lacking for many in these difficult times. I'm looking forward to hearing him in Lexington and carrying his words into the new year."
That kind of presentation is something I want to be in on and I hope you do too. Is your wheel down and axle dragging? Join us in Lexington in January and let us help you change your tire and get back on the road. I hope to see you then! If you can't join us, consider making a donation to help others attend. Together we will help empower farmers, individuals and communities across the South to continue down the road to a sustainable future.
Steve Muntz, Executive Director
Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group