by Worldchanging DC local blogger, Daniel Lobo
Approaching the last FRESHFARM open farmers' market of the season at the Penn Quarter - which advertises locally grown foods, bringing the blessings of healthy local food to our communities and sustains the working landscapes that feed us –the contradictions of an elite service in the name of a sustainable community market can take main stage.
Balancing a dense debate that will require much more scrutiny there is room to see positive effects in its promotion.
In a tired and maybe irrelevant dichotomy between what is urban and rural, city farmers’ markets facilitate a healthy conversation about community relationship between the population of Washington DC and its rural surrounds. In fact, farmers’ markets not only introduce products that may not be found very often in densely populated areas, but also offer an opportunity to engage directly with those involved in growth and production. It demonstrates that the farm is a part of the sustainable city and needs to express its presence in the community.
I always preferred Giddens' notion that instead of rural vs. urban we should all be talking about built vs. unbuilt. The connection between local agriculture and the population within its reach, highlighted in city farmers’ markets, enables us to understand the social continuum between the two. As a result, we consider how and why communities are excluded from the market, how it strengthens politics of gentrification and what opportunities should be opened to underprivileged groups. For instance, what opportunities are there for regional growers to help support local initiatives, neighborhood farms, and ultimately the most important question, how to transform the overall food production mode to find more sustainable practices that include all citizens. A farmers’ market is not a bad point of inflexion to ask just that.