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Learning to Feed Ourselves

There's something happening here. Okay, you can quit with the Buffalo Springfield. This ain't a war protest. But, perhaps, it's a call to arms. Because there is something happening, right here in Oklahoma, and all over the country.  People are learning to feed themselves again.

If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you know that we've been rather enthusiastic about a certain contest to grant five communities a fruit orchard, complete with irrigation and help with the planting. From what I can tell, Edy's Fruit Bars teamed up with The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and, voila!, the Communities Take Root program was born.  For the communities who enter, this presents an amazing opportunity, and it's a sign of something larger moving through the land.

This hits home for Terri and I in particular because, in this current batch of contestants (this seems to be an ongoing thing... like American Idol... only better), we can vote for one of our own.  Turley, Oklahoma is currently in 4th place.  If they can stay in the top five until May 31st, they can win an orchard of forty trees (40 trees!) for their community.  We don't live in Turley, but they are our neighbors.  And they have been struggling for a very long time.  So long that it almost looked like the end of the line for them.

Turley borders North Tulsa and is one of the poorest areas in Green Country.  They just lost their only school and are fighting now to keep their post office.  The medical clinics in the area have all shut down.  Most of the residents have no health coverage and so end up in the emergency room when something goes really wrong, as it often does.  Health, it seems, is not a right of the underprivileged.  These are our neighbors, citizens of Tulsa County, just like us.  But, as it goes in the eternal war of the classes, most who live south of Admiral Place pay no attention.  North Tulsa and the suburb of Turley might as well exist on another planet.

That is, until recently.  There are some bold moves happening in our “underprivileged” side of town.  People there are getting wise to the injustice of the situation.  They're starting to work together to transform their community into something good and strong.  It seems they've figured out that if they don't do it, nobody will.  They know their children deserve better.  They know they deserve health and education and a community that cares for them.  To this end, a foundation has been formed called A Third Place.  Click on the link to see what they've been working on and what they're up against.  Look at their plans.  These aren't the plans of the meek, the tired, the beaten-down.  These are plans born from strength of spirit and motivation.  This is human audacity at its finest.  They're starting with nothing... less than nothing in a lot of cases, but they have drive and they're on a mission to save themselves.

This is where the fruit orchard comes in.  Turley, Oklahoma is located in what is known as a “food desert.” Per Wikipedia (see food desert link), a food desert is defined as "a food environment unsupportive of health; it is defined by barriers which restrict access to healthy foods."  This means that real, nourishing food is virtually unattainable for the citizens in this area, and what food is accessible and affordable is highly processed, cheap, and nutrient devoid, the kind that leads to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and countless other health problems.  Life on Ramen noodles, mac n' cheese, and hot dogs.  Remember college?  That was eating posh.  So what is this driven community doing about it?  They've built a community garden.  And they're working their hides off to expand it.  Forget hard times and bad luck and being ignored and swept aside... screw government programs that disappear just when you need them... they're going to grow their own food.  And a nice big fruit orchard would fit in just perfectly.

This is a concept that seems to be spreading.  Not just with disadvantaged communities, but everywhere.  All over the country, community gardens and backyard gardens and small farms and ranches are popping up.  It's as if we're all waking up from a very bad dream in which we were held hostage to a system that fed us weak plants from dead soil and the meat of sick, tortured animals, and tons and tons of bleached, processed grains.  We gorged ourselves on this “food” but it didn't nourish us, and the more we ate the sicker we got.  We started dying slow, painful, horrible deaths from incurable diseases.  And the doctors told us we were dying of malnutrition... but we didn't know how because there was all this food... 

And now, in the light of day, we're remembering... we can't depend on any big impersonal "system," not a government system nor a corporate system, to feed us in a way that will keep us strong and healthy.  We have to do this ourselves.  We can do this ourselves.  We can heal our bodies and our homes and our despondent state of mind and go another way.  We can get our hands dirty.  We can grow and raise our own food and, finally, take back control over our lives.

The strongest element of the human spirit is our ability to band together to make a change, to help each other through.  The people of Turley and the other communities out there who are coming together to feed themselves are proof of that.  They are the models of how we should all aspire to be.

It never ceases to amaze me how those of us who have the least manage to inspire us the most.

If you want to vote for Turley, OK to win a fruit orchard, or if you just want to see how this contest plays out, go to Communities Take Root and see what a difference you can make.  We only have until May 31st to vote for this go 'round.  Time is almost up.  Vote daily.  Absolutely every vote counts.

If you want to see what others are doing (and what opportunities there may be to get involved), check out the following links:

http://www.communitygarden.org/

http://www.heifer.org/#

http://teachtogrow.org/home


Devouring the Seasons  – (May 28, 2011 at 3:42 PM)  

Preach it sister! Now I have to go vote again! ~terri

Devouring the Seasons  – (June 2, 2011 at 9:17 PM)  

Thanks, Mrs. Spock! And guess what - WE WON! Turley is getting a fruit orchard! I've been doing my happy dance for 2 days now. :D

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