Q: How do you get connected to these communities?
A: They invite us in and we play a unique part in the larger holistic effort of that institution or group. We create a demonstration garden where farmers come and learn skills. Once people have an opportunity to try those new techniques and see how they are working, they can implement them in their home gardens.
Q: Are you a gardener?
A: I am learning. I did not come from a background in agriculture, which is partly why you don't see me working in Africa myself. All of our teachers and facilitators come from the communities we serve. I do come from a deep appreciation of food as it relates to our health. But yes, I am a learning gardener.
Q: Where does DIG go from here?
A: We have worked in nine countries in Africa and currently are working in Kenya and Uganda. Scale is a hard thing for us. Our success is rooted in this idea of empathy and deep listening and responsiveness to the communities we serve. What I see for DIG is to help others see that model and learn from it. And what we are doing, from soil assessment to organic pesticides, has applications even here in Atlanta.
Q: How do our eating habits here affect communities in Africa?
A: In the United States, 30-to-40 percent of our food supply goes to waste, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month. When we throw food away because we overbuy or over prepare, this increases pressure on natural resources, and wherever natural resources become scarcer, food becomes more expensive. This makes it harder for people in developing nations to meet their nutritional needs. Our event with the eight local chefs is attempting to make this connection between what is going on locally and globally. We all can advocate and be actors in bringing about food justice.
The Sunday Conversation is edited for length and clarity. Writer Ann Hardie can be reached by email at email@example.com.
Cocktails and Castoffs
Eight Atlanta chefs will challenge themselves to create innovative dishes with little-to-no waste at a fundraiser to support the efforts of Development in Gardening.
5-7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12
Matchstic, 437 Memorial Dr. S.E., Unit A7, Atlanta