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Let’s Talk About Change

Let’s talk about change. We are emotional beings. Change, even good change, still brings with it some sorrow for the things that must be left behind. We know that there is good ahead of us, but we still look back to mourn what can’t travel with us to the new.

A lot of the ways we look at change are through a negative lens. We all know that climate change is bad. But if it pushes us to create a more just and verdant world, is it bad? Can we envision the potential gifts that come for ourselves and our children from the chaos of change? I can.

Menopause used to be discreetly called “the change” and was perceived as the first step in the decline of a woman. For myself, and many women today, menopause is seen as a time of increased wisdom, empowerment and freedom. On the other side of “The Change” (cue the ominous music!) comes much joy.

I’m not saying that menopause was fun, or that the coming years will be easy. What I am saying is that we have the choice to look at the world and choose how we can embrace the change and use it to voluntarily look for ways to shape the world that we want to see on the other side.

I have an idea. Actually, I have a lot of ideas. They come to me when I look at the possibilities on the other side of change, instead of focusing on the potential chaos of change. If I focus on change, I feel fear, anxiety, uncertainty. These aren’t helpful in finding ways forward.

Fear is emotional manure- you can use it to grow some amazing things if you just let it compost long enough. I compost my fear with questions like “What am I really afraid of?” “What would it look like if that thing I was afraid of didn’t happen?” This enables me to look at what a potential solution to the thing I’m afraid of might look like.

I love my town, Davie, Florida. I’ve been here 32 years and it’s a great place to live. Like everywhere else, I’m seeing rampant development, and tragic loss of agricultural land. Meanwhile, nearby Palm Beach County is building Agrihoods. An Agrihood is a neighborhood with a farm, hopefully organic, incorporated into the model.

First, I want to look at some of the challenges to the newly built Agrihoods. After that, we’ll look at opportunities.

Challenge 1: A 5-acre farm for 2420 homes is simply window dressing. It’s nice to look at, and they have great programs but is ineffective at really addressing the need for local food production.

Challenge 2: The average home prices in these newly developed Agrihoods are usually well above the reach of the average person. Prices in Arden start in the low to mid 700’s and run north of $1,000,000.

Challenge 3: When we develop land, we destroy the soil web and release carbon. Regenerative farming methods don’t lend themselves to pretty barns and clean and manicured landscapes with nice neat rows of corn.

Opportunities!

Opportunity 1: Existing agricultural land in Davie can be utilized to transform existing neighborhoods into more desirable Agrihoods. These can be large enough to create real production and that is meaningful to surrounding homes.

Opportunity 2: Creating real food production and turning existing neighborhoods into Agrihoods can increase property values while also increasing desirability of the neighborhood. We can look at models that create some sort of voluntary buy-in to the farm, allowing the cost of the set up to be spread over a large area. This share could be sold separately or with a home sale, and could potentially increase in value much like a home does. One could imagine that in a time of food inflation like we are experiencing now, these shares would increase in value.

Opportunity 3: We can preserve vital agricultural land that has an intact soil web, and practice regenerative farming that continues to sequester carbon, nourish all parts of planetary cycles and strengthen the local food chain.

I don’t know exactly what this would look like from a financial point of view. Here in Davie, where property values have exploded, we would need something like 400 surrounding home to invest 20k each just to buy the 22 acres of agricultural land nearby that is about to become yet another housing development. Then there would be costs associated with farming start up, and ongoing. That could be done with a co-op or CSA model. There would be other revenue opportunities available, as well as potential grants, donations and subsidies.

Clearly, this idea has challenges also. Since we know that change is coming, and that is going to affect our food system, doesn’t it make sense to try to get ahead of the curve and answer that challenge ourselves? The more we participate in and choose the change, the more control we have over what it looks like on the other side.

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