Eva Verbeeck is a Belgian photographer and international law student who is passionate about travelling and the environment. She is about to undertake a journey through the US and Canada in order to uncover the inspirational stories of innovative young farmers. Joined by her friend Spencer Macdonald, the two will share their experiences in the form of photos, blogs and videos.
I had the opportunity to interview Eva regarding her upcoming trip, and it sure sounds exciting!
Why are you undertaking this project and what do you hope to achieve?
I grew up on the countryside in Belgium and locally grown food has always had a big role in our home cooking. When I moved to the city I saw how people have gotten so disconnected and ignorant about something so intimate as the food that we eat. That just didn’t seem right to me. So I started looking for ways to get involved in working towards a healthier and more sustainable way of life. Our planet’s diet is not sustainable and our future will rely on young people taking matters into their own hands.
That’s why this will be a story about young people making a change; celebrating and translating the young farmers’ movement and food revolution in order to inspire other young people to do the same. There is so much to learn, and there is much as a culture that we risk forgetting. I hope that this project can inspire young people interested in working towards a sustainable future to join the organic movement and think about initiatives they want to support or start in their own city.
Are there any farms in which you are particularly interested in visiting? Why?
We have an incredible list of farms planned to visit this summer so it’s almost impossible for me to just choose one. All the projects we will visit are so different; some of them are urban farms, others are food education programs, CSA produces farms, small scale community farms as well as big scale organic farms. I think that the combination of all those different farms will make this trip so special. I can’t wait to meet all the people involved in all these different projects working towards a more sustainable lifestyle and bringing them all together in this story.
What does the organic movement and sustainable agriculture mean to you?
All the choices we make to eat something produce one kind of agriculture or another. That kind of agriculture produces one kind of nature. I believe that eating is one of our most powerful engagements. I’m a big fan of the work of Wendell Berry. He once said: “Eating is inescapably an ecological act and it will define how our world will be used”. I think that sentence beautifully explains why this movement is so important to me. For me, eating is a social and ecological act. Agriculture has formed our landscape more than anything else in the world. Besides all that, food connects us with each other and with nature. That’s why I think it is important to make large claims for the importance of good food in our lives. Especially in a world where large scale monoculture and industrial agriculture is omnipresent it is essential to promote more sustainable ways of farming for our future.
You are clearly passionate about these issues. What is your favourite farming experience?
Last September I worked on a farm called Skyberry farm. Three very good friends of mine started this beautiful farm when they graduated from college. They are based in Portland, Oregon and every day they work passionately on building a community around healthy food.
During my stay I had the opportunity to work together with young people from all over the world. When I worked there I truly began to understand the opportunities organic farming holds and the beauty of fresh, healthy food handled and harvested with a lot of care. For me agriculture is a way to connect people. Food can be something very powerful and that is something people often forget. When I left Skyberry Farm I felt really inspired and I couldn’t wait to start initiatives in my own city.
You have started an urban farm in Leuven, Belgium. What are the successes and challenges that have come from this?
We’re still in a startup phase. We developed an idea and brought together a group of people passionate about starting up the project. The idea behind the project is an urban farm that will bring different people together in the city. People can volunteer at the farm, learn about organic farming and buy fresh food from the person that grew and harvested it.
There is a growing interest in organic food and the possibilities to start a farm are endless, even in a city. Urban farming is inherently centered on the community. Growing food is, after all, a cooperative effort. That’s why we have to have organic farms where there are people.
Finally, how can people help you with your project?
I will start the tour around the United States of America and Canada at the end of June. Throughout the trip I will be posting stories, pictures and videos on my blog. I hope this project can inspire a lot of young people to get their hands dirty, but also give all these young farmers a chance to tell their story to a large community of people. So if you want to help out, or if you are passionate about the food industry and want to know more about organic farming, you can follow our tour across North America on my website.
To hear more about Eva’s journey, check out her website: http://www.evaverbeeck.com/
Also head to https://wwoofusa.org/ and http://www.wwoof.ca/ to learn more about WWOOF USA and WWOOF Canada.