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Thursday, April 03, 2008 

A Former Santa Barbarian Farmer

shares some thoughts about sustainability on the food front.
Michael Ableman farms on an island in British Columbia but said Alaska is more of an island than where he lives."Your food insecurity is as bad as I've ever seen," he said to no one in particular Saturday as he toured the Arctic Organics farm. "What happens when the planes and trucks stop moving?"

Not an insignificant question as the cost of fuel continues to go up with little hope for relief in the near term.

"That whole concept of a global food supply is based on cheap fossil fuel. It's no longer a left-wing, radical theory" to understand that shipping food all over the world is no longer a viable way to feed people, he said.

"We're augmenting a totally unsustainable diet."

And the worst of it is, Ableman said, the most vulnerable people - elderly and poor - will be the first to suffer when food supplies go wanting.

....A farmer and author of three books on his favorite subject, sustainable agriculture, Ableman came to international note several years ago when he fought to save his small farm just north of Santa Barbara, Calif., from development.

Amidst some of the most expensive real estate in the nation, Ableman's 12.5 acres are now the Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens.

The Goleta, Calif., center describes itself as "a model for small-scale urban food production, agricultural preservation and farm-based education. - Anchorage Daily News
and what a place Fairview Gardens is!
On our twelve and a half acres, we produce a hundred different fruits and vegetables, feed approximately five hundred families, and employ over twenty people. We also nourish the community in less tangible ways, through cooking and gardening classes, workshops, farm festivals, tours, lectures, apprenticeships, and outreach and consultation to schools and communities nationwide.
Michael raises a good question. Start asking yourself and your community leaders "how sustainable is your community's food supply? Your town's or city's?"

Even with Santa Barbara's wonderful Fairview Gardens and our plentiful Farmer's Markets, one earthquake can shut down the highway in and out of town. What then? When gas hits $6-$10 a gallon, will farmers find it feasible to haul their goods to and fro? What then? When the price of food reaches skyhigh levels. What then?

It's time we start really conversing about "what then's"...right now.

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Check out www.mesaexchange.org for one way to improve food security and have fun at the same time.

Owen Dell
Santa Barbara

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