As I've mentioned before, I'm one of the Washington DC interns for the Organic Consumers Association. The best working experience of my life occurred last week when I visited OCA's newest offshoot, Via Organica ("the Organic Way") in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico as part of a solidarity delegation.
OCA's Director, Ronnie Cummins, and an amazing team of U.S. and Mexican activists launched Via Organica in 2009 to help bring organics to a new level in Mexico. Continuing the OCA's tradition for grassroots activism, VO has begun a number of projects to help San Miguel's campesinos reclaim their land and dedicate it to sustainable, organic farming.
VO also has a fully operational farm on their land through which they partially supply the Via Organica store and cafe in downtown San Miguel. In addition, they hold workshops and classes to teach local campesinos about everything from affordable green building for their homes, to composting, organic farming, and more. They have connected with a number of other local projects including CEDESA (a local group that educates and provides direct aid to campesinos), CASA (another local group that provides health services for lower income families and the biggest provider of midwifery in the San Miguel), the Center for Global Justice, and more.
The first night here, after the yummiest 100% organic meal of my life on a beautiful tiled terrace in the middle of Mexico, in between sing alongs of Bob Dylan and Van Morrison classics, conversations fired from all sides of a huge wooden table about organic food, the future of agriculture, our government, and everyone's hopes and fears for the future. Everyone is so dedicated to what they are doing. They want change. They demand change. As Ronnie said on an interview with Democracy Now after the Obama administration was voted in, "We weren't expecting small change. We were expecting BIG change."
After Vilsack was appointed, and agriculture in the US doesn't seem to productively be moving forward in any way, the OCA definitely seems to have it all figured out. Never in my life have I felt more like I had been thrown back into the throes of the 1960s revolution, spending a night under the stars, with good conversation, good food, good wine, good ideas, and good living. The people here are beautiful, I've truly never known a more dedicated group of people, and I feel so blessed to be a part of them, this movement, and this struggle. If anyone's here to make a difference I'm convinced I know who it is and where it will begin... right here in San Miguel at the Via Organica ranch. Viva la Revolución!
Chantal Clement is an intern in the OCA's Washington D.C. office.
More information about Via Organica is available on their website at http://www.viaorganica.org/
Via Organica Joins the Food and Farming Revolution
Chantal Clement, OCA Intern, August 8, 2009
Straight to the Source