Small Farm Fight Back: Food and Community Self-Governance

This article was written by Beverly Bell for the Huffington Post “Harvesting Justice” series, which documents changes in the food and sustainability movement. This particular article examines the ways in which communities and small community farm owners have taken action to save the movement from increasingly restrictive federal legislation.

I think that overall Bell does an effective job of outlining the issue; giving current, updated information about municipal and state actions nationwide, and conveying the ‘why now?’ element of the story. However I think that it would benefit her to use more specific examples of the issues she mentions, such as highlighting even one of the strict USDA regulations that has prompted people to start this national movement.

I also felt that in a few paragraphs after the initial anecdotal lead, the author did more telling than showing– sometimes lacking in dialogue that would be a lot more effective in validating the claims she makes about small farms. For example, the passage “Small farmers who sell their food locally will tell you that the nature of their business…” could very easily be substituted with an actual small farmer, actually telling readers about the ways in which their industry is different and less prone to the same public safety risks as the corporate food industry.

Although the piece is geared toward community actions, I believe it is lacking in a few more sources and perspectives crucial to telling this story. The opposing forces, the ones prompting the headline to use the verb ‘fight’, are not developed enough, and have no representation in the piece. Comments from sources like an inspector, a community member who benefits from having local food options, even an owner of a farm/corporation that qualifies as a larger farm and is therefore more restricted– how does this shift to small farms and localized food production affect the nature of his business?– would round out the story and emphasize how this issue is relevant to all involved, not only the farmers.

What questions are you left with after reading the article? Are there any aspects of the movement that you would have like to see developed and explained more in the piece? Does the pro-community farming angle of the piece justify the lack of representation from opponents of the movement?


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