The essential elements of ‘sustainable agriculture’ include ecological stewardship, a socially responsible food system, and economic viability for farmers and the community.
Sustainability means that social, economic, and environmental practices are mutually reinforcing in a way that is enduring – for communities, for agriculture, for the environment. It means building into the ‘system’ mechanisms that support and allow for flexibility, communication, and parity in decision-making and outcomes. It means the system itself minimizes the likelihood of cyclical crises and maximizes its capacities for dealing with them. These elements of sustainable agriculture ensure the protection of ALL participants and ALL resources: human, animal, environmental, social, community, etc. as equitably as possible, and, at the same time, builds relationships that maintain and promote equitable outcomes for participants regardless of changes in ‘extra-systemic’ factors.
LESSON recognizes the need for a catalyst to change Delmarva’s current food system and sees opportunities to play an important role to create this change. Expansion of Delmarva’s Sustainable “food shed” may be most rapidly assisted through making direct connections between community members’ interest in alternative food delivery systems and the existence of a local food system.