How Real Pickles Will Guide My Farm

25 Nov

Real Pickles in Greenfield, MA, has developed a sustainable business model that will guide my own farm business in the future. The owner, Dan Rosenberg, decided to make every effort to develop a business that serves his community and will benefit their health as well as the health of the planet. He decided first to focus on developing his business to be as energy efficient as possible before he focused on introducing renewable energy. In this way, Rosenberg was able to make his energy needs much lower than if he had simply emphasized using renewable energy. Because of this, Rosenberg’s operation uses only 1.5 times the average kilowatt-hour intact of average American household and he produces 100 percent of his energy from solar panels. Rosenberg emphasized the important shift from buying local to investing local. It is not enough to simply buy a few products locally while still investing in destructive companies that undermine local businesses.

real picklesHeaderSKINNYsq930                                From the Real Pickles website: realpickles.com

Dan’s ENV 100 lecture earlier this Fall helped me realize that local and organic farming and food production does not necessitate mostly negative actions. My friends Hilly and Lincoln own a farm in Worthington, MA, where they operate a whole life CSA. They bake bread and granola, slaughter cows and goats and pigs and grow a multitude of fruits and vegetables. This manner of farming attracts me as being extremely beneficial to the community that surrounds me. Hilly and Lincoln seek to integrate their neighbors into their operation by offering sweat equity to pay for part of a farm share and by having weekly Shabbat dinners that help strengthen relationships. Rosenberg also emphasized how he can impact his community in positive ways by changing his company to a worker-owned cooperative and by seeking local individual investors. Both businesses are small enough to recognize the importance of labor and animal health safety. While these techniques to strengthen community and ensure health and safety seem small, forgetting them leads to the impersonal companies that do not value worker, animal, or customer health and safety, focusing purely on profit margins.

I recently had a conversation with Jeffery Scott, the Director of Social Enterprise Development for Heifer International, about the importance of small community building acts. Scott currently leads Heifer’s Seeds of Change Initiative in Southern Appalachia, helping farmers who lost their livelihood when the tobacco monocrop left the area. Seeds of Change provides these farmers with capital, markets and literal seeds to diversify their farms. Scott has also been working to regain previously agricultural lands that were sold to developers. My main concern that I brought up to Scott was the apparent apathy among many young people who seem either unaware or uninterested in finding out more about ways to better the environment and society. Scott’s simple answer to spark their interest was “through their bellies.” I have always felt that food was the most important aspect of my own life and have relished each time I am able to share food that I have grown or made with others as a way to express my love. Scott’s suggestion connects what I have been doing for years with my frustration about how to motivate my peers to invest in their future. It is not possible to convince others with words alone, but maybe by cooking healthy, delicious, local, and organic food for them, like Dan Rosenberg does at Real Pickles, I can convince young people that this way of life is better for them and our planet.

-Julia Graham, ’16

Julia is a prospective Environmental Science and Policy major and a Sustainable Food Concentrator. She loves to grow tomatoes and garlic. Julia lives in Duckett House and is happy to be at Smith as a transfer after having taken a year off to work on two organic farms in New England.

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