Category: Elizabeth Gallo

Baltimore City: Food Security Issues – Covid-19 2020

Baltimore food distribution sites:

  • https://health.baltimorecity.gov/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/food-distribution-sites
  • https://baltimore.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Nearby/index.html?appid=32ce54bc99e746f5bc4c386208cee3e7

The city has set up a number of food distribution sites in that people can come to for meals. These sites do not require people to show identification, they simply get a meal in a grab and go style.

                                        

The first image is a map of food deserts in the city from 2015. This map shows the neighborhoods that are most effected by food insecurity because they do not have good access to grocery stores or other places to buy fresh food. The second image is a map of the food distribution sites currently during the Covid-19 situation. I noticed when looking at these two images side by side that the areas where the city placed food distribution sites matches up with the areas that are most effected by food insecurity.

 

Baltimore is also allowing public schools in the city to offer free breakfast and lunch to school children during the pandemic.

Podcast

The link below is my response to the videos of LiZiqi and the film Tampopo.

 

reaction to class 2/14

Professor Vooris’s presentation in class today taught me to look at food history and culture from another perspective. I was not previously familiar with this perspective on food culture so it was interesting for me. I also really enjoyed reading the texts in preparation for the discussion today and I am surprised that DTWOF was published so long ago. I am interested in learning more about the intersections between gender identity and food culture specifically from a non-american or non-western perspective.

Interview with Jenn

When did you first know you wanted to be a farmer? What (event, person, place) inspired this decision?

Jenn volunteered in the Peace Corps in Niger for 3 years where she was introduced to subsistence agriculture and was inspired. She liked the concept of growing food to live off of and the connection that people had with the land. She liked that the quality of a person’s life could be informed by the land. Also while in Niger Jenn was introduced to the concept of a CSA, community supported agriculture. She liked how this was related to subsistence agriculture and the concept resonated with her. Jenn loves the physicality of farm work, how you are nourished by what you create.

Describe your career path. Have there been any unexpected turns that have led you to where you are today?

Jenn went to an undergraduate university for political science and german with the intention of becoming a lawyer. She took a public service class near the end of her time in university that got her interested in public service work. When a Peace Corps recruiter came to her school she went to the information session and was immediately inspired. After graduation Jenn went to Arizona to work where she met another peace corps recruiter who she connected with. This recruiter told Jenn to apply and she was sent to Niger. 

While in Niger Jenn began to realize her calling to become a farmer. Her life took a bit of a turn when she got sick while backpacking and had to go home. Her dream was to do development work overseas but when she got out of the hospital she realized that might not be possible. She kept a notebook with her while she was in Niger where she wrote down ideas she had or things that inspired her. When she revisited the notebook she remembered the term “CSA” and how it has resonated with her. She was currently on the east coast living with her parents so she decided to search for a farm where she could work for the time being. She contacted a farm in Chambersburg, PA and was put into contact with the farm manager Matt Steiman. She started working on this farm from July-November of that year, Matt’s first season as manager. 

While at this farm Jenn participated in a workshop with a visiting farmer, John Jevins. John came up with a farming system called “bio intensive”. Jenn participated in this workshop along with another intern at the farm, and realized she wanted to work for John. He preached a mindset of limited resources and how to make the most out of small amounts of space. This subsistence perspective reminded Jenn of her time in Niger and the farming practices there. Jenn then moved to California as an apprentice for John, an experience she said informed her way of thinking which still holds true today. 

After a year Jenn moved back to Pennsylvania in search of a new farming job. She saw that Dickinson College was looking for a part time garden coordinator and she started working here. Over the years the position and the farm grew and eventually it became what it is today.

What is the most challenging part of running an organic farm? Is it more challenging to run an organic farm in the midst of so much conventional farming and if so how has this impacted your business so far? 

In Jenn’s opinion, the biggest challenge she faced as an organic farmer is climate change. Being in such close proximity with conventional farms doesn’t pose as much a problem because the Organic Certification is rooted in reality, and the certifiers recognize the buffers Jenn has in place. Climate change, however, is more difficult. It is impossible to predict how the years will change since there is less consistency in the temperatures. The range of predictability is greater which makes it challenging in particular for organic farmers who need to come up with new ways to control pests and disease. 

How has being a woman affected your experience of directing a farm?

In south-central Pennsylvania in particular there is a strong religious undertone. The partiarcial structure is very much in place here and women typically don’t hold leadership positions let alone work outside with their hands. Jenn says she used to get very bothered by men’s attitudes and treatment towards her. One time she heard other women complaining about the treatment she received and she realized she didn’t want to sound like that anymore so she shifted from that mindset. A lot of the time she believes her peers, and men in particular, respect her because they know “you’re with Matt”. Jenn is optimistic about what the future holds for women farmers, especially considering the fact that all but one of the student farmers at the moment are women. 

What drives your work? Is there something that motivates you to work so hard and dedicate yourself so completely to this business?

What I’ve always noticed about Jenn is how hardworking and driven she is in all that she does. Even simple tasks like weeding or transplanting are taken with the utmost seriousness. When asked Jenn what drives her work she said plain and simple, “I’m very competitive.” She said she is very competitive with herself and it’s something that she loves because it’s allowed her to work hard and be successful in this industry. Jenn says that this side of her goes back to her upbringing and her dad’s montra to do things right and work hard.

What advice would you give to a young person who wants to pursue farming as a career? Is this something you wish you’d known when you were first beginning your career?

Jenn really emphasized how farming is about endurance and mental endurance in particular. To be a farmer you have to have the ability to talk yourself out of wanting to quit, either in short or long run. Farming in this sense is more like an endurance sport. 

Something she wishes to pass on to the next generation is to dabble as much as possible before settling into something. Trying to learn as much as possible from others is important before starting your own business. She says she is glad she had the opportunity to succeed and fail on other people’s land before she began her own business because the stakes were much lower. She really emphasized slowing down the pace, you don’t need to run your own farm right off the bat, because learning as much as you can beforehand is invaluable. “You will never master farming”, Jenn said, which was an important message to hear from someone as successful and knowledgeable as her. 

What has been the most surprising part of your journey?

Something that has surprised Jenn over the years is that she always feels like she is learning, she always feels challenged. Jenn claims that she doesn’t know how to live or work any other way. She loves the range of what she does, how farming is always changing, never constant. This type of work allows you to learn and grow continuously. Jenn also appreciates the people she gets to meet and work with people they have taught her so much as well.

 

Here is the link to my presentation: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/17lUy94PMFWxIj4vnq4piaep1lUvk2OG5MyR1AUCcTbg/edit#slide=id.p

 

Interview with Jenn Halpin

Since I was unable to meet with Jenn this week I am instead listing the questions I plan on asking her in my interview. Jenn has always been a role model for me ever since I first toured Dickinson College. Without the opportunities and support that I have been presented with from working under Jenn, I would not be where I am today. She inspires me to achieve my career goals of running my own farm and I want to learn more about her story and what it takes for a woman to to be a successful business owner in the 21st century.

When did you first know you wanted to be a farmer? What (event, person, place) inspired this decision?

Describe your career path. Have there been any unexpected turns that have led you to where you are today?

What is the most challenging part of running an organic farm? Is it more challenging to run an organic farm in the midst of so much conventional farming and if so how has this impacted your business so far? How has being a woman affected your experience of directing a farm?

What drives your work? Is there something that motivates you to work so hard and dedicate yourself so completely to this buisness?

What advice would you give to a young person who wants to pursue farming as a career? Is this something you wish you’d known when you were first beginning your career?

What has been the most surprising part of your journey?

Below are some pictures that I have taken over the years since I began working for Jenn at the farm in 2017. These pictures demonstrate the tremendous amount of growth that has taken place on this plot of land and the hard work and dedication that Jenn and her husband Matt have put forth to make this farm what it is today.

 

 

Assignment 1

Jan 27 Monday

  • Toast with jam and cheese for breakfast with a cup of tea
  • Sushi and a smoothie for lunch
  • Steak and ratatouille from the cafeteria

Jan 28 tuesday

  • 2 fried eggs with cheese and 2 banana pancakes for breakfast
  • Sushi and a smoothie for lunch 
  • Chicken and spinach and mashed potatoes for dinner

Jan 29 Wednesday

  • Toast with jam and cheese for breakfast with a cup of tea
  • Poke bowl
  • Salmon with ginger and lemon, roasted potatoes and spinach salad for dinner

3 common food items: toast, sushi, spinach salad

Toast

  • What is the main ingredient of the food item? Note: If one of your foods is raisin bran, please look at the ingredients list on the box of cereal. The dominant ingredient is always listed first (in this case, wheat).
    • Organic wheat flour
  • Research the most common production practices used to grow/raise this ingredient. What resources (energy, chemical, environmental, human) are required in its production?
    • Wheat gets planted in the fall
    • It is difficult to produce entirely organic wheat due to the need for high nitrogen levels in the soil
    • Once harvested the wheat is cleaned and bagged
    • For control against pests freezing is an option if you can’t mill it all right away. This prevents pests from invading the areas where the wheat is stored
  • In what geographical location is this ingredient most commonly grown?
    • Montana, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Wyoming represent half of all organic grain acreage
    • Grown in the plains states and in the west
  • Identify and describe significant social and environmental impacts resulting from production, procurement, distribution, and consumption.
    • Requires lots of machinery and manpower to harvest and process wheat, specifically organic wheat free from pesticides
    • There is currently a rise in demand for organic wheat and grains but it is difficult for farmers to switch from conventional to organic
    • Farmers say a large benefit of growing organic wheat is not having to handle dangerous chemicals and pesticides
    • Organic farms produce much less than conventional ones because they can’t use synthetic pesticides or fertilizer
    • There is an increasing trend for artisanal bread in the grocery stores
    • Bread is quite perishable so there have to be a lot of distribution centers
  • Calculate the average miles each ingredient traveled in order to end up on your plate, bowl or cup.
    • Organic wheat flour probably traveled around 1500 miles from Kansas to Pennsylvania where I bought the bread

Sushi

  • What is the main ingredient of the food item? Note: If one of your foods is raisin bran, please look at the ingredients list on the box of cereal. The dominant ingredient is always listed first (in this case, wheat).
    • Rice 
  • Research the most common production practices used to grow/raise this ingredient. What resources (energy, chemical, environmental, human) are required in its production?
    • Produced in irrigated fields
    • Producers seed their fields aerially in dry or flooded fields
    • After harvesting rice it has to be milled to remove the husk
    • Rice is then dried and in the case of white rice the hull is removed and it is polished
    • White rice is enriched to replenish vitamins and nutrients lost during milling
  • In what geographical location is this ingredient most commonly grown?
    • Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas account for almost all of the rice production in the US
  • Identify and describe significant social and environmental impacts resulting from production, procurement, distribution, and consumption.
    • Rice cultivation originated in China and then spread
    • History of rice production in the US is rooted in slavery, once slavery ended the production costs of rice rose significantly because it is a laborious crop
    • Lots of technology goes into modern rice production 
    • In order to irrigate the fields machinery is required to create uniform fields for flooding and controlled draining
  • Calculate the average miles each ingredient traveled in order to end up on your plate, bowl or cup.
    • Sacramento valley: 2,700 miles 

Spinach salad

  • What is the main ingredient of the food item? Note: If one of your foods is raisin bran, please look at the ingredients list on the box of cereal. The dominant ingredient is always listed first (in this case, wheat).
    • Spinach 
  • Research the most common production practices used to grow/raise this ingredient. What resources (energy, chemical, environmental, human) are required in its production?
    • Needs full sun and well drained soil
    • Organic spinach needs to be maintained by hand which requires weeding, cutting it during harvest, washing the product and bagging it
    • Thinning and weeding is the only cultivation required
    • Spinach can survive in the cold so can be grown late into the season
  • In what geographical location is this ingredient most commonly grown?
    • Most spinach in the US is grown in California
  • Identify and describe significant social and environmental impacts resulting from production, procurement, distribution, and consumption.
    • Water is required to grow spinach
    • The spinach I consume is from the Dickinson College farm usually
      • Students and apprentices care for and harvest the spinach, the packing house manager cleans and bags the spinach to prepare for distribution
      • Typically the farm managers run the deliveries to the college where the spinach is distributed between dining locations
      • Students then can all have access to the spinach for consumption
  • Calculate the average miles each ingredient traveled in order to end up on your plate, bowl or cup.
    • About 6 miles away

A major takeaway I had from this activity was recognizing the complexity of the foods we eat. I try hard not to eat super processed foods however this activity showed me that even what I consider “simple” foods still have a long life before they reach my plate. Even the spinach I eat from the Dickinson College farm has to undergo many steps before it reaches the cafeteria.

Elizabeth Gallo

My name is Elizabeth Gallo and I am a Studio Art and French and Francophone Studies double major with a Food Studies Certificate. I am from Baltimore, Maryland where I first discovered my love for farming when I had the chance to work on an urban farm near my house. After graduation I plan on beginning an apprenticeship at an organic farm with a focus on regenerative agriculture and humanely raised meat. My career goal is to be able to run my own organic meat and vegetable farm and help people connect with the food they eat and the land that provides it. I chose to get a Food Studies Certificate because I am interested in issues surrounding access to high quality food, particularly in urban areas, and the disconnect our society often faces between what we eat and where it comes from.

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