Touch the Soil News #270
When we hear the term “collective” we often think of the old Soviet Union and its collective farms. However, here in the United States, the term has had a more positive re-birth. According to the Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville, “collective” means working together to grow and share healthy food that helps cultivate healthy communities. The big difference is “collective” now means from the bottom up rather than autocratically from the top down.
Founded in 2012, the enterprise operates under the umbrella of a larger non-profit called Virginia Organizing. This past year, the “Collective” produced over 17,000 lbs. of fresh vegetable and fruits. Everything was distributed free of charge at 24 weekly market days. On average, 55 people were served on each market day.
Market Day preparations (photo courtesy of the Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville)
For every half-hour of work in a garden, a person gets a wooden “farm token.” The token can be redeemed for vegetables by the person who earned it, or put in a community jar for others to redeem on Market Day.
The Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville is managed by Todd Niemeier, who reports to a board of directors. The board is further supported by a broad advisory council. The vision of the “Collective” is broad and includes social development of the community. The idea is that a community that works together growing, consuming and donating food becomes a healthier place to live.
Onion harvest is a popular time (photo courtesy of the Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville)
The Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville reveals how food and urban farming have entered the realm of public co-operation. Career market gardeners might not overlook support from non-profit dollars.