Seacoast Eat Local’s Sara Zoë Patterson, our Coordinator and Board Chair, appears in Nourishing the Planet’s new Saturday Series. From her interview about local food on the Seacoast:
What inspired you to start Seacoast Eat Local?
We started Seacoast Eat Local as a way to make a positive impact on our world. Many of the people in our community are blessed to eat three times a day and have the power and the potential to make a very positive impact on our world through food choices. Agriculture can be the root of a lot of environmental, human health, and social justice problems or it can be a powerful part of the solution to many of these same problems. The only real way to understand the impact your dollars have is to spend them locally with farmers and fishermen that
can tell you their practices and with whom you can share your values. The farmers, in turn, can share their values and their delicious food with our community. Seacoast Eat Local serves as a connection for community members, whether they are individual consumers, businesses, or other organizations, to create relationships that are the foundation of positive change.
What are your organization’s key goals?
Our primary goal is to see everyone eating locally all year long. Through eating locally grown foods, we will see an improvement in the health of our environment, community and individuals, culture, and economy. And when we say everyone, we very much mean everyone. A new food economy includes people of all income levels, and it opens up many possibilities for people to grow their own food as well as participate on many different levels. We want to support the model of communities feeding themselves and being self-reliant into the future.
What are some of Seacoast Eat Local’s proudest achievements?
We are extraordinarily proud of our annual publication, Seacoast Harvest. Every year, we contact all the farmers who sell directly to consumers in our region and publish a guide with this information. We’re also really proud of our Winter Farmers’ Markets. Although there are many winter markets now, when we started we hadn’t ever heard of the idea before. Now we have a region filled with farmers growing food for many different winter markets and it’s easy to eat local food all year long here…
2011 was a big year for Seacoast Eat Local, with your Winter Farmers Market and SNAP initiative, among other successes. What’s next?
One next thing already in the works is assisting other markets in being able to accept SNAP as well as expanding our own SNAP program to additional farmers’ markets. We’re also continuing and expanding our workshops for farmers and consumers. There are a few other projects in the pipelines that we hope will help more and more people eat locally.