a farm to table dining experience | supporting individuals transitioning out of incarceration and addiction

Farm to Able

If you’re anything like me, you love the farm-to-table trend.  Who doesn’t like fresh tasting food from a local source that uses ecologically sensitive practices?  It seems like a win-win for everyone.  The local farmer and the local consumer work together in supporting the local economy and the local environment.  When I worked on organic vegetable farms, I loved how those farms became a part of people’s lives and culture.  They would bring their children to harvest fresh flowers.  They would come to the farm for harvest and music festivals and special dinners.  At times, it felt like we were recreating Paradise.  However, if I reflect on my farm experience objectively, I see how we created a culture that catered to some people but not others, especially those who were in the greatest need.  

There is a complex problem in the farm-to-table movement that reflects the same problems of the organic farming movement.  In order to support local organic farmers fairly, the price for organic produce will remain high.  Therefore, the people who benefit most from the movement are primarily wealthy suburbanites. This has created what I call the “Whole Foods Culture” where all things organic and farm-to-table quickly become associated with rich people. I hold no judgement, I simply have a strong desire to see the men and women I work with who are transitioning out of incarceration and rehab to be wholly included in the benefits of local healthy food. I am excited that people, regardless of socioeconomic status, are increasingly more conscious about what they are putting into their bodies.     

At Seven Harvests, we are always looking for creative ways to extend the benefits of the organic farming and farm-to-table communities to at-risk populations. People who are coming out of incarceration and are in recovery from substance abuse do not typically end up in places that value or model health and wellness and often have a myriad of health problems. It is very common to replace their addiction which destructive eating habits thus perpetuating the cycle. 

We see Seven Harvests as a great adventure in tackling these problems.

For individuals transitioning out of incarceration and addiction

  1. We connect them to local organic, biodynamic, and sustainable farms for work opportunities in exchange for fresh produce.

  2. We offer training in natural gourmet and healthy cooking.

  3. We connect them to a larger community of support including churches, recovery groups, and prison ministries.  

  4. We offer them a vision for health and wellness that includes mind, body, and spirit.  

  5. We give them the gift of high expectations and high standards of excellence without robbing them of dignity and grace.         

If we can get creative, I believe that the “table” part in farm-to-table is big enough to include everyone, and anyone who is willing and able.  Come join us for a dinner and help us nurture these ideas!  

-Raj Lewis


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