Maryland Farmers for a Green New Deal

Written by Alexis Baden-Mayer, Organic Consumers Association

The Green New Deal is the first Congressional proposal to tackle climate change that includes strategies related to food and farming.

The Green New Deal would “. . . secure for all people of the United States for generations to come: clean air and water; climate and community resiliency; healthy food; access to nature; and a sustainable environment.”

It includes a call to “. . . work collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible, including—by supporting family farming; by investing in sustainable farming and land-use practices that increase soil health; and by building a more sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food.”

So far, four out of Maryland’s eight Members of Congress have cosponsored the resolution: Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD-2), Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD-3), Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD-7) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD-8). If you don’t see your Member of Congress on this list, please ask them to support the Green New Deal.

Maryland farmers are taking notice, too.

When Kim Alexander of Heartwood Farm in Garrett County heard about the Green New Deal, she got involved right away, stepping up to host a Sunrise Movement Green New Deal watch party at the Water Street Cafe in Friendsville in February. More than 30 people showed up–quite a turnout for town of fewer than 500 people! This small town is already working on its own Green New Deal: it’s on its way to becoming energy independent through solar, wind, and biofuels.

Kim was a leader in the successful campaign to ban fracking in Maryland. In 2016, she and Aeryn Boyd walked 313 miles across the state carrying well water contaminated with fracking waste to deliver to the governor, an action they dubbed the Maryland Water Walk.

About the Green New Deal, Kim says:

The Green New Deal embodies the change that we as humans are ready to embrace. We have an opportunity, as farmers, to support life giving, life sustaining systems. The Green New Deal has the potential to allow farmers to explore more inclusive agricultural techniques, allowing communities to pursue more meaningful work and engaged communication while transitioning to more regenerative practices and ultimately a new philosophy with our relationship to the earth and food. As we confront the destruction of climate change, we have an obligation to protect the watersheds (at risk from industrialized, chemical agriculture) and proceed with a more holistic approach. People all around the world have been experimenting with permaculture techniques and investing in their living, social and experiential/intellectual capital, all of which could be more celebrated, research and development boosted, and environmental health promoted if these projects were subsidized as heavily as “big ag.”

Kenny Braitman of Edgesville Farm in Frostburg, MD, has also gotten involved in Farmers & Ranchers for the Green New Deal. Like Kim, Kenny has been a leader on environmental issues facing his community for a long time.

Kenny is past a president and current board member of the Savage River Watershed Association, an organization whose primary purpose to maintaining and protecting the pristine waters of Savage River. As a blacksmith, he uses recycled metal to make both art and functional items, often for the farm. Currently, Kenny facilitates a group of individuals who promote the Green New Deal by working on projects locally focusing on energy, agriculture, and education/research.

Kenny sees the Green New Deal as a permaculture solution to climate change. He says:

Permaculture is a way of thinking and acting. The basic principles behind the Green New Deal and behind Permaculture are very similar. In permaculture, one realizes everything is connected, what you do to one thing affects another. Permaculture is about using resources wisely, efficiently, about sharing and about community. Permaculture addresses economics, it promotes having an economic system that supports and maintains the community, not corporations. As a permaculture farmer, I am developing a food forest mimicking mother nature’s systems. Biodiversity and working with nature are fundamental components of permaculture. The GND finds strength in diversity and, like nature, honors, supports and works toward a sustainable, regenerative planet.

Regeneration International is working on getting more farmers and ranchers involved in passing the Green New Deal. You can help by encouraging your favorite food producers to join Farmers & Ranchers for a Green New Deal.