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Navitas Organics Blog

Why Farmer Autonomy Matters: An Interview with the President of A Growing Culture

Loren Cardeli, co-founder and president of A Growing Culture (AGC), has spent the last 10 years traveling the world, learning from farmers and realizing that farmers are our solution to the current environmental crisis. I sat down with Loren to learn more about the amazing organization he started, and how he aims to change the way we view farmers and their critical role in changing our food system.

MD: What inspired you to start A Growing Culture?

LC: My love of agriculture and farming has led me to explore communities around the world and learn how they’ve been growing their food. These experiences triggered my interest in this movement, but my “lightbulb” moment came from a personal experience I had while working in a community in Belize. We were growing our own food, living off our own produce, hunting our own meat, deep in the jungle. One day, I walked to a local community to purchase some chickens for dinner and heard someone screaming. I saw a man holding his young son, who looked pale and limp, and it turned out his son had mistakenly ingested pesticides that were used on his crops. Tragically, his son ended up dying. Seeing this shook me, but it also opened me up to understanding that there are two models of agriculture. Just a few blocks away, we were living organically, growing our own food and connected to the source, while this nearby community was connected to a logging road, and down that road was the access to market inputs, fertilizers and chemicals. This community had become dependent on these connections with industrial and chemical farming, and what blew me away was how close, yet how far away these communities were from each other. It showed me how the industrial model not only erodes the environment, but it also erodes the culture and the community. At that moment, I decided I wanted to work with farmers all over the world to unite and amplify their solution to a better food system for all, absent of foreign, chemical and dangerous inputs.

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