A million thanks to the Dakota Rural Action team and board for hosting us the last couple of days in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Once again, the same themes emerged: we need to build a strong base of support for rural communities who feel so left out and unsure how to change course. South Dakota is being pushed to accept animal factories, officially known as CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations), and most of its farmland is given over to raising the food for animal factories in Iowa. The beautiful Sioux Falls that the city is named after is overshadowed by Smithfield's slaughterhouse. The pollution in the river is believed to be as a result of industrial agriculture and such animal factories as Smithfield's operations. The statue of the pig with its head down under Smithfield's sign speaks volumes to how the pigs are treated in such operations.
I can't even stomach the horror those animals must feel in that process. Dakota Rural Action, a longtime NFFC member, is doing some impressive organizing around local food and community empowerment. We had a chance to visit with board members involved in their local food initiative, as well as DRA staff Eowyn Corral and Matt West.
Thanks to Stephanie Peterson and her family for opening their doors to us and hosting us while we were in the Sioux Falls area. Stephanie runs an egg aggregation business, aggregating, washing, packaging, selling, and delivering eggs from smaller chicken farmers to local restaurants.
From Sioux Falls, we headed to Spearfish, where we had the great honor of meeting up with two young farmers that started Cycle Farm seven years ago. From not knowing anything about farming to now operating a farm business, their story was inspiring, their farm was awesome to visit, and we were left with the genuine hope that another way that puts soil health on the forefront is possible - regardless of how far one operates from traditional urban markets. Thank you Trish and Jeremy for taking so much time with us, introducing us to your farm and animals, and sending us away with some great food.