According to the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute a working definition of sustainable agriculture rests on three pillars. 1. Environmental Health 2. Economic Profitability 3. Social and Economic Equity. The environmental health component does not need much explanation other than that our farming practices should help and not harm the environment. The industrialization of agriculture which happened in a post World War II America brought rapid changes and some good indeed. We were able to use advances in science and petro chemicals to ship food long distances, grow more food in with a smaller workforce etc. But of course with those positives we now know that some of the results are less than stellar. We have problems with the depletion of topsoil that comes from intensive mono-crop agriculture, overuse of pesticides and the poisoning of water sources etc. Sustainable agriculture is most definitely the reverse of this. Many of our farmer vendors subscribe to this philosophy.
The second pillar, Economic Profitability is at the core of the Denton Market. By supporting local farmers, craftsmen, musicians etc. each item that’s bought at the market directly contributes to the economic viability of our region. The concept of social and economic equity is realized through the market’s ability to faciliatate a strong community environment and by the vendor’s own work through employing local workers at fair wages.
The change to a sustainable food environment emphasizes the interdependence of the whole of the community. What is needed is a “systems perspective” which relies on everyone participating in a particular neighborhood, community, nation, and even world. It’s not just the farmers who might need to change but also policymakers, regular citizens (the consumers), farm workers , researchers, retailers big and small, and everyone else who benefits from food.
Over the next few weeks we’ll interview some of our local vendors at the Denton Community Market to see how they see themselves fitting into this model and what they are doing to better their community and themselves.
Here's a video from DTV highlighting the Denton Community Market: