Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Athens food activists "Feeding the Planet" in Italy

ATHENS, OH - International food conferences weren’t on the minds of Michelle Ajamian and Brandon Jaeger when they established the Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative in 2008: they just wanted to build a regional system for food staples in Appalachian Ohio.

Now four years later, the two will travel as United States delegates to the bi-annual Terra Madre international conference in Torino, Italy from October 25 to 29.

Terra Madre has been coordinated by Slow Food International since 2004 with the goal of fostering discussions and introducing innovative concepts in the field of regional, sustainable food. The theme for Terra Madre 2012 is “Feeding the Planet,” referring to the right for all to access quality, regional food that is produced in a fair and just manner.

Ajamian and Jaeger – leaders in building regional prototypes for growing, processing and marketing high nutrition staple foods with a focus on healthy food access and sustainable growing methods – will be surrounded by an international community of food innovators at the conference. There they will share their experiences in Appalachian Ohio with those from other countries working toward creating a network of food communities that are committed to producing quality food in a responsible, sustainable way.

Their work and determination in the local community led to the launch of Shagbark Seed & Mill in 2012, just two years after forming the ASFC. Shagbark Seed & Mill began by growing small crops of high nutrition grains such as amaranth and now processes a variety of staple dry beans, grains, seeds and flour for distribution across the region. Ajamian even hopes to swap some of her pre-industrial beans for ancient grain seed while at the conference, if she’s allowed.

But the soon-to-be delegates need help raising funds to make the trip a reality. They are currently asking for donations to help them make the trip to Italy in order to represent our community. A strong regional support network has already helped them meet part of their goal, but they’re still not at the total trip cost.

To help them reach their goal, contact Michelle Ajamian and Brandon Jaeger at 740-590-1501 for more details on how to donate.

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