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Of bluebirds, gardens and security

Of bluebirds, gardens and security

Published: February 20, 2014
spring garden

Spring garden

Photo: AFSC / myager

After days of snow, and after waiting all winter -  three female Eastern Bluebirds arrived at my bird feeders this morning.  I jumped up from my desk to put out their favorite food.  I was spoiled last winter when as many as seven of them would visit almost every day.  They are social little balls of fluff, coming to the feeder as soon as I put food out and not moving when I move the curtain or door to chase off the squirrels.  It is a delight to have them back.  For some reason they make me hopeful that spring actually will come in due time.  

And with thoughts of spring come thoughts of gardens and growing at least some of our own food.  And some of us are thinking about growing food to share, thinking about how to grow food more sustainably and how to be sure that everyone has adequate access to healthy local food.

AFSC and FCNL are collaborating to shift the narrative about security and what it is that makes us secure.  They have produced a document called Shared Security: Reimagining U.S. Foreign Policy.    It builds on the understanding that peace is not just the absence of war.  Security is something we build and share as a community and has at its core that all of us are more secure when all of us have adequate food, clean water, shelter, education, living wage jobs, and affordable health care.  While it is focused on foreign policy, it has a great deal to offer to those thinking about domestic policy as well.  It acknowledges the huge degree to which corporations control government and  states that saving the earth is fundamental to our shared security.  

AFSC-SENE has begun to explore the theme of food security.  What does a sustainable food network look like?  How do we assure that everyone within that network has adequate healthy food?  A piece of the answer lies in local food production, from local farms to community gardens.  For some it means not just growing for themselves but growing food that can be distributed to people who can't afford fresh produce.  For some it is working with youth in a garden at their school.  For others it is growing food in gardens at their church and sharing it with the local food pantry or the food bank.  For others it is holding cooking classes to teach people how to use the Swiss Chard or broccoli that is in their bag from the food pantry for the first time.  It may lead to policy work - taking on the use of antibiotics in food or requiring labeling of genetically modified foods.  There are LOTS and lots of entry points to the conversation.

And we want to hear what interests you.  What is going on in your neighborhood or community?  What interests you about food security?   Please take a moment to reply to this email and let us know what you know.  We are in the process of trying get a handle on what is already taking place, who the players are (and who is not at the table).  We will be compiling some resources as well.  Is there a website or book that others should be reading?  (One of my suggestions is Foodopoly: The Battle over the Future of Food and Farming in America by Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food and Water Watch.)  Just send us an email (  with your thoughts.