The 4 Corners Regional Food Summit was based on the idea of open dialogue between people involved at all levels of the food system—from growers and eaters, to land owners and distributers, to even backyard gardeners. The basic idea for this unstructured, one-day summit was that the food system we have built in the past 10 years is not working and we need a new model. We must do this with our limited, usable land and infrastructure. The summit was partially organized by Farm to Table, an organization that operates out of Albuquerque and is dedicated to promoting locally based agriculture through education, community outreach, and networking. The conference began with an examination of the different realms of food that were being represented. There were mono-cropping petrochemical farmers who were interested in using compost rather than fossil fuels to get the nutrients they need. The owner of Durango Compost Company was there to share his ideas about how to expand composting systems into the public realm. The owners of a local Durango jam, jelly, and mustard business were able to connect with a distributer from New Mexico who was looking for new products. There were USDA representatives sharing their stories of the many roadblocks associated with institutional local food initiatives. After the introductions and networking the group of about 150 said what they thought would be good topics for break out sessions. There were 6 agreed upon topics. One group focused on expanding local food into the educational system. Another discussed the importance of recognizing the medicinal qualities of food. A few of the other groups discussed topics such as the important aspects of soil health and how to move past chemical fertilizers, water irrigation systems and other water issues, as well as saving seeds and the importance of seed banks. Another group discussed how to fill a niche between people who want to become growers and land owners who are interested in loaning out their land through a program is called Landlink. And last, there was a group there focused on the emergency response system set up to feed people in the case of disaster. These were just a few of the diverse topics that are involved in the entire local food cycle that made for an informative conference.
~ Lucian Davis