Growing Right sets out to trace a movement history of the grassroots ecological food & farm movement in Ohio. Movement histories are invariably complex — they involve the stories of many individuals, often dispersed in space and working across decades, working together and separately for related ends. Invariably, movement histories are partially invented constructions: we can see the shape of a “food and farm movement” in Ohio, now, because of the efforts of so many people, institutions and networks. However, that’s why it’s so important to trace, celebrate, document and share out the history of grassroots movements. Without one central organizing body, institutional memory often becomes dispersed as archives become silo’d — often in movement members’ basements, barns and garages! And, as central organizations — like OEFFA — do develop out of grassroots networks, supporting partners, and alternative formations, visions and paths sometimes get forgotten.
Most importantly, though: movement histories of grassroots peoples’ struggles for justice — in this case, for food and environmental justice — are also resonant, present-relevant toolkits of strategies for democracy-making and activism. That’s why we call the Growing Right Project a project that mobilizes “histories of Ohio’s ecological food & farm movement for the future.” Sometimes, as a professor of mine often remarked, the dreams we’re searching for for our futures may be alternatives already living in recent memory.
Because Growing Right — like the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association itself — seeks to represent the wide and diverse arc of Ohio’s founding generation of ecological food and farm leaders, we’re not just interviewing farmers. Of course, our farmers matter greatly: we talk, so far, with everyone from small back-to-the-land inspired homesteaders to dairy farmers to 3rd-generation Ohio heartland conventional grain-growers who transitioned to organics after personal experiences with their on-farm chemicals in the 1960s and the 1970s. In our efforts to trace the wider network of the movement, however, we also speak with activists, educators, greengrocers and grocery store proprietors, distributors, co-operative visionaries, environmental activists, food hub coordinators and even the manufacturers of organic amendments needed to keep soil healthy.
We began fieldwork for Growing Right in Summer 2016; and fieldwork will continue until we feel we’re done! If you or your local farmer/grocer/rogue food distributor are interested in being interviewed for the project, please contact us at growingrightproject [at] gmail [dot] com!
We’d love to have you “talk into our machine”!