Happy Labor Day! OKT Food Justice hand-out addresses justice for food workers.

Over the past six months, OKT has released a series of handouts on food justice. Titles include: What Is Food Justice?, Women of Color & Food Justice,  Climate Change & Food Justice, The Farm Bill, Food Politics, Saving Seeds and, as mentioned in our headline, Food Workers & a Living Wage. On this Labor Day, we are featuring this last one below in solidarity with food workers and all workers earning less than a living wage.Click here to view, download and share the entire series.

Food Justice, Food Workers and a Living Wage 4


OKT yard gardeners reaping bountiful harvests

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Before blooming, the sunflower in the slideshow had been broken almost in two. Our grower, Fonda, put aloe on the severed parts and set it upright again using a band-aid, twist ties and a stick to help hoist it up! Now it’s blooming!

Southeast Area Farmers’ Market not open over Labor Day Weekend

seafm logoDue to our vendors’ holiday weekend plans, the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market will not be open this coming weekend (Friday Aug. 29 and Saturday August 30). As the Garfield Market site was scheduled only through August, the market will only be open at the Gerald R Ford Academic Center site Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through the end of market season (Nov. 8). 

Please join us there Saturday September 6 for a large variety of chemical-free, locally grown produce and a free, urban foraging workshop! 

Free September market activities!

  • Sept 6 Urban Foraging How-to, 12 – 2 p.m.
  • Sept. 20 Art at the Market Attention local artists! Display the fruit of your labor at the market!
  • Sept. 27 Food Landscapes Bike Tour, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. Meet at G R Ford Academic Center after the market (851 Madison SE, south of Franklin). Dress for the weather & bring a water bottle.



OKT kicks off “Prescription for Health” program

RxOur Kitchen Table, Kent County Health Department and Mercy Health are developing a new program to increase  Browning Claytor Health Center patients’ access to fresh, locally grown produce, Prescription for Health. The “prescription” forms, filled out by Browning Claytor physicians, can be redeemed for fruits, veggies, edible flowers and herbs at the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market.


Baxter quilt show: “A Piece of Textile, Culture, and Tradition”

quiltThe Threads Sewing Program at Baxter Community Center presents its 2014 Quilt Show, A Piece of Textile, Culture, and Tradition on September 5 and 6 (Friday and Saturday) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Baxter Community Center, 935 Baxter ST SE, Grand Rapids.

Learn about quilts,textiles and the history of African American quilting. This family friendly event will also feature arts and crafts, sewing demonstrations, a silent auction and storytelling–Anansi the Spider directed by Jonell Moore.

For information, contact Erica Millbrooks (616) 881-3385.

Department Of Agriculture Cracks Down On Seed Libraries

Some of our local libraries have seed libraries. Are you ready to rally for them to continue to be available?

Re-posted from Popular Resistance

It was a letter officials with the Cumberland County Library System were surprised to receive.

The system had spent some time working in partnership with the Cumberland County Commission for Women and getting information from the local Penn State Ag Extension office to create a pilot seed library at Mechanicsburg’s Joseph T. Simpson Public Library.

The effort was a new seed-gardening initiative that would allow for residents to “borrow” seeds and replace them with new ones harvested at the end of the season.

Mechanicsburg’s effort had launched on April 26 as part of the borough’s Earth Day Festival, but there were plenty of similar efforts that had already cropped up across the state before the local initiative.

Through researching other efforts and how to start their own, Cumberland County Library System Executive Director Jonelle Darr said Thursday that no one ever came across information that indicated anything was wrong with the idea. Sixty residents had signed up for the seed library in Mechanicsburg, and officials thought it could grow into something more.

That was, until, the library system received a letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture telling them they were in violation of the Seed Act of 2004.

“We did talk to the county extension office before establishing the seed library,” Darr told Cumberland County commissioners at their meeting Thursday morning. “We were never apprised of the Seed Act.”

The commissioners were equally flabbergasted by the change of events, as well as with how the agriculture department handled the investigation — sending a high-ranking official and lawyers to a meeting with the library.

Darr explained that the Seed Act primarily focuses on the selling of seeds — which the library was not doing — but there is also a concern about seeds that may be mislabeled (purposefully or accidentally), the growth of invasive plant species, cross-pollination and poisonous plants.

The department told the library it could not have the seed library unless its staff tested each seed packet for germination and other information. Darr said that was clearly not something staff could handle.

“This is not our core mission,” she said. “We thought we were doing a good thing in helping the Cumberland County Commission for Women (who requested the idea and the library’s participation).”

Darr said she believes the library system’s proximity to Harrisburg, as well as media coverage of the seed library, prompted the Department of Agriculture to act in this case.

She said the department indicated to her that it would continue to crack down on seed libraries that have established themselves in the state.

Some of the commissioners questioned whether that was the best use of the department’s time and money, but commissioner Barbara Cross noted that such seed libraries on a large scale could very well pose a danger.

“Agri-terrorism is a very, very real scenario,” she said. “Protecting and maintaining the food sources of America is an overwhelming challenge … so you’ve got agri-tourism on one side and agri-terrorism on the other.”

Cross said it made sense that the department would want to tackle the issue now while the efforts were small.

Though the seed library is no longer an option, Darr said the department has left it open to the library to host “seed swap” days where private individuals can meet and exchange seeds. As long as the library system itself is not accepting seeds as donations, Darr said such an event would meet the requirements of the act.