Monday, February 1, 2010

But I Don’t Want to Be a Farmer: Sustainable Food Jobs

So you love food. Great! You love sustainable, organic food. Wonderful! Do you want to grow it? No? You love sustainable food, but you don’t want to be a farmer. That’s just fine. There are plenty of career paths that revolve around sustainable food. Here are a few to consider.

Your job can help create communities that foster sustainable food. Perhaps you’re an urban planner, or perhaps you’re an advocate for developing community gardens. You might coordinate a local farmers’ market, providing people with valuable space and time to sell what they have produced. If organization is more of your forte than growing the food, that’s excellent. Those who produce the food are often too busy to throw their heart and soul into creating these communities, and you can be their advocate, whether that’s in government, as a business, or as part of a nonprofit endeavor.

If you have gardening skills and love to connect with people, but you don’t want to grow food for a living, then teaching and mentoring others in the garden field might be your place in the world of sustainable food. A horticulture program, a community organization with education programs, or even a local garden center all provide avenues to teach others how to become more self-sufficient and grow some of their own food.

You can also work on the infrastructure that supports farming. Perhaps you help distribute the food through a buying club, or you might help transport it to markets. You might test soil or provide soil remediation services. You could be a carpenter and create miniature garden boxes where people can grow food. Or you could work in a kitchen or open a restaurant, providing locally-grown meals to those who are eager to embrace local food and who just love good food.

Creating sustainable food systems is not only about farming. We do not all need to be rural farmers or even urban farmers, generating farms on the downtown rooftops. Not everyone is interested in growing food, but we all need to eat it. The relocalization of food systems means that local jobs need to happen to support these food systems, and you can be part of that, even if your thumb is browner than brown and you can’t grow a tomato to save your life.

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