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Harvest Public Media
Sat December 10, 2011
The Farmers March hopes farmers occupy the streets
When farmers gather in New York City it's usually to peddle gorgeous heirloom tomatoes or sweet colorful peppers to bankers rushing toward the Subway. But this weekend, the Occupy Wall Street movement hopes farmers will take center stage.
By JEREMY BERNFELD.
The Farmers March, scheduled to hit the N.Y. streets Sunday afternoon, is intended to spotlight struggling family farms. Vevlyn Wright, an organizer of the march, hopes the demonstration will raise awareness for the local food movement, food safety issues and what organizers see as a farming industry dominated by large multinational corporations.
"We’re fighting for the lives of our families and our friends and the world at large, because if our food system continues to be operated the way it is we’re not going to have any good food left," said Wright, who has been part of Occupy Wall Street since October.
The march has roots in the ground and on the dinner table. Organizers want to campaign for "making sure that everyone on earth has good, whole, nutritious food," Wright said. They want farmers to be able to produce that food in ways that are both economically viable and environmentally sustainable.
The Occupy movement sprung up in New York City in the fall and has since spread around the world. Though many of the most robust Occupy demonstrations are operating in cities, the Occupy movement still wants to reach rural farmers.
"Perhaps I don’t expect you to come to New York, but think about doing this where you are," Wright said. "This concerns you because you have been suffering for years."
Many family farming advocates would agree, and some in the farming community have actively embraced the Occupy movement already. Some farming adovcates have set up a parallel group they're calling Occupy The Farm. They're planning an "action against big agribusiness" in Boston on Saturday.
Sunday's march is scheduled to start at La Plaza Community Garden in New York's Lower East Side and continue to Zucotti Park, the site of original Occupy encampment. Wright said she expects groups of farmers, foodies and environmental activists to attend.
Because even in one of the world's biggest cities, it all goes back to the farm.
Jeremy Bernfield reports for Harvest Public Media, an agriculture-reporting project involving six NPR member stations in the Midwest. For more stories about farm and food, check out harvestpublicmedia.org.