If you attended Graze: Birmingham this year, hopefully you got a chance to listen to the sweet sounds of Meg Ford, and her dad, Doug. Meg is a classically trained violinist, part of several Birmingham bands, and works for the symphony. She is also the full-time Programs Coordinator at Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve in Birmingham!
How long have you been a member of ASAN?
Not long enough! I began my membership this year in 2018.
Why did you become a member of ASAN?
I fell in love with Alabama’s food movement when I was a teenager. The concept of having a handshake relationship with the people that feed you was new and refreshing to me at the time, and is a sentiment that I’ve carried with me into adulthood. It’s even a idea that I use as a musician and teacher. I love that ASAN facilitates necessary conversations about food–something that touches us all–and that’s why I’m a member.
Additionally, I met Alice (Evans, ASAN’s director) a couple of years ago when she was in need of a meeting space and reached out to Ruffner Mountain. Alice, Mindy, and the rest of the staff at ASAN are hardworking, kind, and plain old awesome. It was simply impossible to not support them any longer!
What is your favorite ASAN event, and why?
I thoroughly enjoyed attending Graze this year! It was great to see ASAN’s mission fulfilled is such a fun and memorable way.
I also have to say: the fact that there’s a youth portion of the Food Farm Forum is seriously great! As I mentioned above, my love for the food movement started when I was a teenager and has stayed with me since then. I’m so glad that ASAN is engaging young people in this dialogue.
What do you love about being part of ASAN / part of the food movement in Alabama?
I think that most facets of life could stand to take a page from Alabama’s food movement, in that it’s based in relationships and honest dialogue. I just can’t think of anything that can’t be massively improved with the addition of those two things. Spaces to ask questions, gain perspective, and meet new people have always been important, and perhaps are of particular importance today.
What frustrates or challenges you about the work you do, and/or the broader context in which you do it? What keeps you up at night? (related to food / ag specifically, not just in general)
I work at Ruffner Mountain, and I think my work here shares a common challenge with the work I did in food/ag a few years ago, which is that I want our projects to be inviting and inclusive for people of all backgrounds. If I can be cheesy for a moment, Ruffner’s mission is rooted in ecology–the study of the relationships between living organisms and the spaces that they share. I think that humans could be fairly factored into any ecosystem, certainly the urban ones, and we therefore each have an important role in overall heath of the spaces we occupy. We’re all very powerful individually, but even more impactful together. I think that something similar can be said about the choices we make when eating, so I’m grateful for groups like ASAN for being highly inclusive in their conversations about agriculture and food.