In June, MCE’s Melissa Vatterott and Food & Farm Intern Claire Mai visited EarthDance Farms in Ferguson, MO to learn about EarthDance’s beautiful farm and their priorities for local food policy change from co-founder Molly Rockamann. EarthDance is the oldest organic farm west of the Mississippi River, offers a CSA, and also houses a unique part-time organic farming and gardening apprenticeship program. Based on her experience working with farmers, she believes that the main barriers to local farming are lack of land, money, and business skills. She hopes to work with other lawmakers and other stakeholders to overcome these barriers, facilitate more urban farms, and assuage people’s fears about urban agriculture. Molly also offered us her insight into the top priorities she would like to see accomplished around local food.
1. Municipal code changes to make urban agriculture more plausible
2. Work with planning and zoning departments to make urban agriculture a preferred use in land planning
3. Policy on healthy food access – for example, food pantries with fresh food as a certain percent of stock
4. Increased education on the Farm Bill
As a more long-term goal, she would like to see increase public awareness surrounding the Farm Bill. Possible ways to use education to empower the community include: a speaker series about how the Farm Bill affects different people or documentary screenings about Farm Bill and the food system.