anna brones

writer + artist + producer

Posts Tagged ‘farming

Andrea Bemis

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“…food is the center of our lives and connects us to our community, our landscape, and our homes.”

-Andrea Bemis

Farmer and author Andrea Bemis is dedicated to not just growing food, but helping people have a better connection to what they eat.

Bemis and I met in person last spring when we worked on a project together, but I had been a follower of her blog Dishing Up the Dirt for a long time. In 2008, Bemis and her boyfriend (now husband) Taylor were living in Bend, Oregon, when they decided to move to Massachussets to work on his family’s organic farm. After a few seasons, the West Coast was calling, and in 2012 they landed on a 6-acre plot of land near Parkdale, Oregon, which they lovingly named Tumbleweed Farm.

With her hands literally in the dirt, Bemis has taken her love of growing food and turned it into a platform for not just getting people excited about what they eat, but having a deeper connection to it. She wrote a cookbook with the same name as her blog, sharing her recipes and wisdom for what to do with local and seasonal ingredients. She started an initiative called Local Thirty, where for a month she committed to sourcing her food from a 200-mile radius: “local food from local dirt.” That spawned a documentary film following Bemis and her husband on their journey, meeting local producers along the way.

I think that Bemis is wise in her understanding of the soil and what it produces, and her understanding of community. She knows that food is not just something that we eat, it’s something that sustains us, physically and emotionally. It connects us to people and places, and the more that we honor that, the more enjoyment we get.

What does wisdom mean to you?

Wisdom to me means having empathy for other people.

Is there an influential woman in your life who passed along a piece of wisdom to you? Who and what?

My older sister is very wise. She’s strong, thoughtful and has always encouraged me to not judge others and always put myself in their shoes.

What does investing in local food bring to your life, both as a farmer and as an eater?
I believe food is the center of our lives and connects us to our community, our landscape, and our homes. Knowing how, where and who grows my food is something I am extremely passionate about. When you know your farmers you are rooted deeper into the place you call home and I think that is very powerful.

How do you see the local food movement growing over the next few decades?

I think people are so damn hungry for connection. I have to believe that the local food movement will grow. It’s a great way get to know one another and discover a bounty that is all our own. When we start looking around and talking to each other I think we’ll discover that we all have so much. It’s time to ditch convenience and start connecting with our neighbors, our landscapes and our homes.

What lessons have you learned from being a farmer?

Being a farmer has taught me about patience, discomfort, and perseverance. When you’re a farmer you give, and then you give some more, and just when you think you’ve got nothing left in your fuel tank the farm gives back, and rewards you with bountiful harvests that will not only feed your household or your community, but it finds its way to feed your soul.

What wisdom would you share with your younger self?

The wisdom I would share with my younger self is to always be kind, and more often than not, be kinder than necessary. With myself, my friends, strangers and acquaintances.

This papercut and profile are a part of the Women’s Wisdom Project, a project focused on showcasing the wisdom of inspiring, insightful women by making 100 papercut portraits.

Written by Anna Brones

June 28, 2019 at 09:36

Winona LaDuke

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“Power is not brute force and money; power is in your spirit.

Power is in your soul. It is what your ancestors, your old people gave you.

Power is in the earth; it is in your relationship to the earth.”

-Winona LaDuke (b. 1959)

Environmentalist, economist, writer, politician, and activist Winona LaDuke has devoted her life to protecting indigenous lands and ways of life, working on sustainable development, climate-change mitigation efforts, and environmental justice.

LaDuke was born in Los Angeles to a mother of European and Jewish descent and a father from the Gaa-waabaabiganikaag reservation in Minnesota, also known as the White Earth Indian Reservation of the Ojibwe nation. Raised between California and Oregon, LaDuke attended Harvard University and earned a degree in rural economic development. While at Harvard, she met Jimmy Durham, a renowned Native American activist, who sparked her interest in and lifelong commitment to indigenous rights. At eighteen, she became the youngest woman to speak to the United Nations about Native American concerns.

After graduating from Harvard, LaDuke moved to the White Earth reservation. While working as the principal of the reservation high school, she completed a long-distance master’s degree in community economic development from Antioch University. Her work quickly became consumed with land rights, and she became involved with a lawsuit to recover lands that were promised to the Anishinaabeg people by an 1867 federal treaty.

While the case was eventually dismissed, LaDuke went on to found the White Earth Land Recovery Project, an organization whose work centers around land recovery and whose mission is dedicated to “preserving and restoring traditional practices of land stewardship, language fluency, community development, and strengthening our spiritual and cultural heritage.” In 2003 the organization won the International Slow Food Award for Biodiversity, honoring its work to protect wild rice from patenting and genetic engineering. Together with the folk-rock duo the Indigo Girls, LaDuke also founded Honor the Earth to raise awareness of native environmental issues through the arts, media, and sharing indigenous wisdom.

LaDuke’s work showcases the intersection of land and culture, showing that social and environmental rights are inextricably linked. An advocate for food sovereignty, LaDuke grows a variety of foods on her land on the White Earth Indian Reservation, including traditional species of corn and rice. She recently expressed her support for regenerative agriculture with the addition of industrial hemp.

LaDuke has written several books, including Recovering the Sacred, All Our Relations, and the novel Last Standing Woman. An outspoken activist for indigenous and environmental rights, she ran as the vice presidential candidate with Ralph Nader for the Green Party in both 1996 and 2000. Her tireless work and advocacy have earned her many awards, including Ms. Magazine‘s Woman of the Year, and she was nominated by Time magazine as one of the country’s fifty most promising leaders under the age of forty. In 2008 LaDuke was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Winona LaDuke is one of three women from the Women’s Wisdom Project series to be featured in a new article in the TEND issue of Taproot magazine. The other two are Margaret Murie and Jane Addams. I am honored to have contributed to this issue, and encourage you to check out this great publication that’s independent and ad-free. You can order a copy of the TEND issue here.

This papercut and profile are a part of the Women’s Wisdom Project, a project focused on showcasing the wisdom of inspiring, insightful women by making 100 papercut portraits.

Written by Anna Brones

April 26, 2019 at 08:47

“I Look Like a Farmer” Greeting Cards to Support Women in Agriculture

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I Look Like a Farmer Limited Edition Greeting Cards
I have spent a lot of this year asking myself how I can contribute to my community and beyond. As you may know, that has come in the form of publishing Comestible. Creating a platform for telling stories about food and food production has felt like the right thing for me to be doing, a way to contribute to the world in a creative and educational way.

But I wanted that platform to be able to do more. So I called up my friend Audra Mulkern of The Female Farmer Project. I love Audra’s work, and she is an amazing advocate for women farmers and sustainable agriculture.

I had made Audra a papercut inspired by one of her photographs earlier in the year, intending to eventually use it in Comestible. But in instead, it spawned an idea. “What if we did a series of cards and used them to raise money to support female farmers?”

So here we are.

I made three more papercuts inspired by Audra’s original photographs, and we turned them into a series of greeting cards called I Look Like a Farmer. The cards are 5×7″ (so perfect for framing even if you don’t want to send them!) and printed locally in Seattle, WA at woman-owned printing company Girlie Press.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Anna Brones

December 5, 2016 at 15:35

Are Women the Solution to a More Sustainable Food System?

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Are Women the Solution to a More Sustainable Food System?

I have been very inspired by the work of Audra Mulkern and her Female Farmer Project. She recently inspired me to write an article about women and farming over on Foodie Underground, titled “Gender Equality and Sustainable Food: The Power of Women Farmers.”

Here’s a little excerpt:

In the U.S., while between 1982 and 2007, the USDA’s Economic Research Service found that the number of women-operated farms had more than doubled, there’s still a gender gap. According to the U.S. Census of Agriculture, 86 percent of the 2.1 million people responsible for day-to-day operations of farms are men. But there are more women coming to the farming world, and in a time when the total number of farms is declining, the number of women-owned farms and women farmers is on the rise. Today women make up about 30 percent of all U.S. farmers – and often, they take a more sustainable approach. Which means that when we think about a more sustainable world of food, not just at home, but globally, we have to be thinking about women.

And if we are going to think about women, then we have to start seeing them too. Audra Mulkern of the Female Farmer Project knows all about that. A talented, self-taught photographer, a couple of years ago, Mulkern decided to launch a projected devoted to documenting the world of women farmers. Inspired by the women farmers in her local Snoqualmie Valley, Mulkern has set out to tell the stories of female farmers. “I noticed over a couple of seasons of visiting farmers markets and farms that there was a marked increase in female interns. I started asking around and decided it was a story I needed to tell,” says Mulkern. Since launching the project, she has photographed women farmers in five different countries, becoming a big advocate for sustainable agriculture and food justice along the way.

You can read the full article here. And I encourage you to give Audra and the Female Farmer Project a follow!

Image: Audra Mulkern

Written by Anna Brones

July 8, 2015 at 11:03

A Real Look at Lifestyle Obsessions

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Who hasn’t flipped through an issue of a magazine on green living with tips on urban farming and thought to themselves, “I want to grow my own food”? Who hasn’t watched a short video about a tiny house and thought to themselves, “I want to live like that”? Who hasn’t read an article on consumerism and thought to themselves, “it’s really time that I minimized”?

We’ve all done it, and we’ll continue to do it. This type of media fuels our aspirations. We all want to be eat and live better, be healthier and wiser, choose a path of intention rather than mindless consumption, so we keep reading, clicking and watching, and for a few brief moments we feel better about ourselves. We feel powerful. We feel in control of our lives. Yes, I too can choose to get rid of most of my wardrobe and commit to only seven articles of clothing!

But the danger lies in the fact that consuming this kind of media is a noncommittal act; few of us take the inspiration and turn it into action.

From my recent EcoSalon article “So You Want to Live in A Tiny House and Be a Farmer? Our Obsession With Lifestyles We’ll Never Commit To

Written by Anna Brones

December 18, 2014 at 02:40

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Can Digging in the Dirt Make You Happy?

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I was thrilled to work on a story for Modern Farmer about the link between dirt and well-being. There’s some very interesting research looking at the benefits of microbes in the environment on human health. Here’s an excerpt:

The psychological benefit of nature has been well documented. When it comes to being happy or not, many studies show that psychiatric problems are more common in urban than in rural communities. That makes Lowry’s and Rook’s research interesting, as it gives us a better understanding of exactly why being outside, in a garden or on a farm, makes us feel good.

“People usually assume that the health benefits of exposure to green space are due to exercise. In fact two large studies now demonstrate that although exercise is definitely good for you, it does not explain the beneficial effect of green space,” says Rook. “Contact with microbial biodiversity is looking like the most probable explanation for the green space effect.”

Just like we’re becoming more and more aware of the benefits of foods with microbes (think: fermented foods with probiotics), being around a lot of different microbes from the earth and animals is good for us too. In other words, sterile environments that are too clean aren’t so great for you.

I was even more excited to see that the piece got picked up and discussed by the New York Times.

Now, on to finding a plot of land to get my hands dirty.

Image: jenny downing

Written by Anna Brones

September 3, 2014 at 09:14

Friday Photo: Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

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In Portland, urban farming is big (there’s even a store completely dedicated to it), so it’s no surprise to find a chicken or too trotting down the sidewalk on an early morning. I’m off to get my own…

Written by Anna Brones

February 26, 2010 at 08:07