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Posted on Oct 8 2017 in Economy Working Group

Garden to “Market:” There’s no app for that

Garden to “Market:” There’s no app for that

On Sat, 2017-10-07 at 16:53 -0400, John wrote:
Hi Mark,
 
I got a call today from David Wagstaff of alfrea.com about growing local food. The guy has a business in Jersey and is trying to get moving in DE.  Here is his company’s web site. Whatcha think?
 
 
If you think that this is worth looking into, he can be found at […]
Mark replied:
 
John,
 
I practice saying “Yes, and” instead of “No, but” or even “No, and…” (but I’m not very good at it yet).
 
So, yes, great idea, and I’m sure he’s learning from and working with all of the great projects that are going on around him and the intrepid people who actively share his vision.
 
Key is the cost of labor. I’m getting paid $10 an hour at Delaware Local Food. Why do I work there? Because I can’t work anywhere else. There’s more commitment in saying “I can’t” than in saying “I can” or even “I will.” So, “I can’t eat the garbage that the industrial agriculture system produces” is much more powerful than saying “I will eat local, oganic food.”
 
I just finished reading an article in the NY Times about the urgent need for people in this country to work for organizations that can’t make long-term commitments and pay enough to even cover rent. And these days that applies across the spectrum of job “levels,” from stoop labor to corporate vice presidents (is there such a thing as a VP anymore?). Lancaster Farm Fresh is a local farmers’ cooperative that bucks that trend, somewhat. Shiny new wheels don’t need to be invented. When people say “I can’t work for or help build an organization the success of which depends on exploiting people or the planet” then other people join them.
 
“People want to know where their food comes from. They no longer trust industrial agriculture and corporate food producers.”
 
This is true, but a small minority of them actually put their money where their mouth is. Mostly because they’re acccustomed and addicted to cheap food, but also because they just can’t afford anything else and a caught in a literal death spiral.
 
“They are ready to get outside in the fresh air and get their hands dirty, grow their own food and share it with neighbors.”
 
That’s basically just not true. It is true for people who understand they don’t have a choice now. It will be more generally true when even the false choice we have now is completely unsupportable.
 
As with time banking, garden sharing is already happening in communities everywhere, just not on the world-wide web. The seeds are in the ground, but the soil is not particularly fertile for sharing beyond the very local levels: friends, family, neighbors, churches (where it seems to start to break down). Beyond that scope the money economy, useful because it minimizes the need for knowing who you’re buying or selling with, takes over. We can try to engineer seeds, fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides that will allow something to grow in poor soil, flooding rains, killing droughts, extreme heat, collapsing biospheres; or we can improve the soil…But really we don’t have that choice. And that’s a good thing.
 
The Internet-enabled “peer-to-peer” economy doesn’t build community. It’s not even particularly useful as a tool for building community. It’s too sterile. Without community there can be no sharing. With community, sharing just happens.
 
What the app does is try to work around the need for a store, a physical marketplace where people come together. So it shares its mission with Amazon. Stores are community centers in our culture. There really can be no virtual or distributed community. Kinship requires physical proximity, as Fr. Boyle of Homeboy Industries says and practices. (I need a meme here of Jesus curing lepers remotely with his Android’s leprosy-curing app. ) People don’t need an app to grow and share food.
 
Now replace “food” with “energy” in the above.
 
Mark