The Power of Terra Madre

The Power of Terra Madre

Terra Madre is an organization formulated by concerned small-scale food producers in Turin, Italy, in October 2004. This movement would come to be known as the “Slow Food” movement, named after its concept of having freshly prepared and healthy food available to local citizens. When I share these ideas with friends, family and “real” farmers, I get rolled eyes, accusations of “hippyism” or disillusionment. After my horticulture friend, Andy Shaw, suggested Vandana Shiva’s Manifestos on the Future of food & Seed, my optimism for an existence of multiple food havens is increased. Her collection offers many perspectives from different authors that all advocate the increased appreciation for locally produced products made and purchased by members of the community. There is also a strong emphasis placed on the need for these kinds of developments to be established in areas that aren’t susceptible to commercialization. 

The United States is an interesting place when it comes to the amount of places susceptible to commercialization. I feel the requirement to only develop food havens in places that aren’t susceptible to commercialization would work against the needed access to nutritious food. Urban agriculture is needed just as much as rural agriculture. This concept could be applied to the United States based on its message that empowers the individual buyer to think of themselves as ‘co-producers’ or people that determine the success of businesses depending on where they put their money.  

However, this can be difficult for the transitioning consumer. Personally, I have been struggling in my endeavor of finding affordable, nutritous AND ethical food during these winter times in zone 3. This is why I am taking the time to organize with community leaders in setting up the appropriate facilities for providing a space and resources for self-sustenance. In River Falls, Wisconsin, there have been many efforts to influence in becoming a food-friendly place. This has been through:

Local Government: 

Though River Fall, WI is nationally recognized for its sustainability, the River Falls City Council has, so far not been the greatest help. This, however, could be cured with more resident participation and proposals. 

Local Institutions: 

The University of Wisconsin- River Falls, the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development, along with local schools, and churches have helped the sustainability movement succeed. With these established institutions in place, it can be easier to find leaders, organize events, and continue to strive toward independence. 

Local People: 

Right now, the movement is concentrated on a set few. This set few, however, sit in very influential areas that include the University, local k-12, churches, and local businesses. With local organizations like The Awareness project, a community resource center located here in River Falls, these people can organize more efficiently. Grow to Share is another community organization dedicated to providing the city with a garden productive enough to supply members with a diversity of produce. 

The existence of Terra Madre took dedication and commitment from the people. I will continue to take note and analyze how Terra Madre was formed and how it has attained success in order to establish a Terra Madre on the homefront, River Falls, Wisconsin.  



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