- News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
Digger's Mirth: A Collective Model in Sustainable Agriculture
There have been many arguments surrounding the fact that sustainable
agriculture which produces local, healthy, fresh, quality food can often
be inaccessible to those living in low-income neighborhoods and / or
food deserts. At least one cooperative is changing this idea, hopefully
creating a model for other communities to do the same.
Digger's Mirth is a worker owned collective out of Burlington, Vermont.
They have converted an old mail truck into a biodiesel delivery vehicle
that services market clientele as well as low-income neighborhoods who
don't have dependable, regular access to quality, healthy food. For
them, it's simply a bonus that it's locally grown and sustainably farmed.
A recent article in The Atlantic quotes them to say they will be
accepting food stamps next July "As soon as we get the first ripe
tomatoes." While I couldn't find a website for the cooperative, I did
find a good paragraph that gives a little background:
Diggers' Mirth was founded in 1992 and currently has five members
farming 15 acres. This is a worker-owned and operated farm. The name
Diggers' Mirth was derived from a British agrarian collective that
operated in the mid-1600s. The original Diggers reclaimed abandoned land
to grow food for themselves and the poor. All collective members taking
part in the farm have an equal voice in its operation. Each year
Diggers' Mirth cultivates approximately 2/3 of the field and cover crops
the other portion to ensure soil regeneration, growing over 40 types of
certified organic vegetables and fruits. Their most popular and focus
crops are mesclun and carrots.
I also found a YouTube "interview" video that gives talks candidly about
what they're doing up in Vermont and gives some advice for small farms
looking to grow into a collective.
When asked What makes Digger's Mirth so successful over the last twenty
years? Elango, a long-time collective shareholder, replies that the fact
that it's a cooperative allows the capital costs of a farm to be lower
because the costs are spread across the collective, not on a sole
individual the way that a "traditional" farm setup may be.
As a model, the collective suggests to start small and grow
consistently, keeping not just the soil but the capital healthy. Vermont
has a reputation for organic farming despite its short growing season
and so that makes this endeavor especially beneficial for a number of
people who wouldn't otherwise have access at all to fresh, local,
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My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
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News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
"From the point of view of the defense of our society,
there only exists one danger -- that workers succeed in
speaking to each other about their condition and their
aspirations _without intermediaries_."
--Censor (Gianfranco Sanguinetti), _The Real Report on
the Last Chance to Save Capitalism in Italy_