On behalf of the Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association, we extend a warm, bioregional welcome to people visiting Duluth to attend the Food Justice Summit this week at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
We live on and around Lake Superior, one of the truly great natural wonders of our planet. Its beauty, power, and productivity feed us in many ways. Its presence reminds us of our constitutive role in environmental stewardship as we work collaboratively to satisfy our present needs while not undermining the ability of our children and grandchildren to have their own bountiful days in the sun and on its rejuvenating shores.
The Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association is a coalition of producers and consumers committed to regenerative practices in agriculture and restorative practices in our broader food system. Our work involves advancing environmental stewardship, economic resilience, and strong and diverse communities both rural and urban. We pursue our work in Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin via farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer and consumer education, and related demonstration, research, and outreach.
The Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association’s largest event, Harvest Festival at Bayfront park, attracts 10,000 visitors annually; and we engage in many other public activities.
This work reflects our belief that place-based agriculture and food systems — expanding the percentage of the food we consume from locally harvested sources — are becoming increasingly important in delivering higher quality and healthier food, better-managed regional landscapes, and economically viable jobs and incomes that foster local multiplier effects that benefit many in our region. We believe these combined outcomes deliver a more-sustainable and -equitable community for all residents.
Regenerative agriculture is the cornerstone of our work, and we believe that this sector is becoming more important as a way of addressing climate change and related ecological degradation. Building soil fertility is at the heart of this work. It simultaneously sequesters carbon; increases profitability; and feeds the biodiverse world of plants, animals, and insects that collectively create the ecosystem services upon which we all rely.
Regenerative agriculture also means recognizing the diverse ways that people and communities procure food, including foraging and gathering that is at the heart of so many Chippewa peoples and tribal communities in our region. As the Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association, we acknowledge that we are on the traditional indigenous land of the Lake Superior Anishinaabe. We recognize the Treaty of 1854, which established the ceded territory of the Lake Superior region. The treaty connects us all through the beloved land, our good food, and our shared community.
Restorative, community-based food systems is central to our work. How do we collaborate with businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions, and others to expand access to healthy, culturally appropriate food that recognizes the challenges around us through an opportunity lens? Everyone has a right to good food, and we in collaboration with our regional partners are committed to feeding the bonds of community and justice that honors all among us.
We are living through a time of great change in both human society and our planet, and we believe that farmers will play an increasingly important role in responding to these changes.
As our visitors this week enjoy our community, learn about the challenges and opportunities related to food justice, and gaze upon our magnificent lake, they can remember that every bite they take is the product of a farmer’s management of both social and natural systems. We all can remember that by supporting small-scale, diverse, and regenerative farmers, we can restore the bonds of community that will lead toward justice for all.
John Beaton of Duluth is chairman of the board for the Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association, and Julie Allen of Duluth is coordinator of the board.