Farming for the Future: April Jones
Faced with a changing climate, the need has never been greater to adopt farming practices that care for the planet and provide resilience to those who farm. Sustainable agriculture combines three necessary aspects for thriving communities: environmental health, economic profitability, and social equity which if done properly lays the groundwork for a healthy planet for coming generations; results which include a positive impact on the climate.
Current farming practices rely on the premise of mass production of food at the lowest cost regardless of its impact on the environment, on human health and well-being and economically is actually costing us a lot more than just money.
Nature For Justice aims to support Black Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) farmers who have been the least supported historically in having the tools and knowledge available to move forward confidently in their farming practices, many who come from generations of sustainable farming practices passed down through families and communities, knowing that they are making a positive impact on all levels.
We are very happy to introduce you to April Jones who has come aboard Nature For Justice (N4J) to assist us with our BIPOC project managed by Kevin Bryan.
Teacher Turned Sustainable Ag Specialist
Lisa Cloete (LC): Please tell us about your evolution from teacher to a sustainable regenerative agriculture specialist.
April Jones (AJ): I taught for over ten years. I taught in Ohio and I taught in Puerto Rico for my student teaching which was amazing. I’ve had a very wide teaching experience and sustainability has been a love and a passion of mine through all this. This developed especially around thinking of how people live, particularly around a country-living ideology and how it affects their everyday lives, then this grew into thinking around how people are able to more weave in sustainability or sustainable practices into their lifestyles.
When I was in Puerto Rico I didn’t have a car which was amazing and the lifestyle was more relaxed, more connected to the land. There was this huge admiration for farming and farmers and the work that they do by the people of Puerto Rico. I also experienced that people there really have more of a food culture such as cooking with intention and food making as an important way of life. I was also able to see how people were more involved with recycling, creating less waste (particularly plastic bag usage) through their consumerist habits.
In my journey to sustainability I have always been an avid gardener which is also a family tradition. I have always wanted to be more independent and this is definitely rooted in my Mid-Western values which, like the hard working Shakers, the Quakers and the Puritans, asks for a more self-reliant and independent way of life. I was taught in my family from young to plan ahead and save for a rainy day. I have learnt that an important aspect of being being a gardener and/ or farmer is all about looking where we are now, and how we can plan for a rainy day, asking the important questions such as how can I be more prepared for the future and in that, how can I be more reliant on myself and then together with my neighbors and my community.
Right now I am busy with the building of community food systems across the country, helping people become sovereign and to learn about all the different ways people can become sovereign such through food and seed sovereignty along with teaching sustainable life practices be it gardening or doing a container food gardens for example.
LC: What are the biggest impacts that you are seeing on BIPOC farmers due to climate change?
AJ: There is a lot happening here in the United States and I think the most important is that we are having a conversation around all this which is literally the first step. The positive aspect here is that now we are thinking of people of color and we are saying how can we help you and meet your needs.
We are also a very diverse country and if we are to start seeing any change we need to start talking to our neighbors – no matter what they look like, and think about people with the intention of being able to help one another in order to also help ourselves.
Within this we are all seeing the effects of Climate Change across the Americas where weather patterns are changing sometimes drastically and we have been seeing this for a long while now. While it has been concerning in many ways with real impacts on communities it is also an opportunity for communities to come together and to really start talking about how they can diversify and adapt to climate change through problem solving with positive impacts for all.
The wisdom of sustainability through communication and storytelling
We are inspired by April’s enthusiasm and passion, and grateful for her knowledge and skill set that she brings to N4J. We look forward to hearing more about problem solving around sustainable agriculture from those working with it on a daily basis through her facilitating communication structures beyond the American borders to create a community of farmers and gardeners who will bring around the change needed in food production practices at the benefit to all.
April Jones is the founder of the Pinehurst Farmers Market located in downtown Columbia, S.C., in the Pinehurst neighborhood. April advocates for her community as part of the food justice and food sovereignty movement. She is passionate about community, gardens, and farmer markets. https://www.instagram.com › pinehu…Pinehurst Farmers Market – Instagram