Healthy and Safe Food for All

Background of the Rainbow of Hope project

Nowadays, it has become increasingly difficult to have access to true organic food. Since there are no holistic, organic certification programs, the label that has “organic” written on it doesn’t offer the buyers the assurance that the produce they receive was harvested in a sustainable way and it’s safe to consume. Fred Young, a social entrepreneur, has come with one solution. It’s called the Rainbow of Hope project.

The Rainbow of Hope project is similar to the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) schemes that have been around for decades in U.S.A. and Europe. What sets it apart from other CSA’s that you might come across in China, is that the program focuses heavily on the development of extremely remote, often economically marginalized communities; it creates completely new opportunities for subsistence farmers whereas most other CSA’s provide an alternative sales channel to established farmers that are closer to urban centers, where opportunity and connectivity are abundant. “Rainbow of Hope” provides training and immediate economic benefits to the farmers in their network.

What is it about

The Rainbow of Hope project helps the farmer families from the western Hunan mountains to liaise with those that are in need of their products. One unexpected advantage of these largely impoverished areas, so far overlooked by industrial development, is that they are located far away from the pollution created by industries and urbanization.The farms have access to clean air and water as the result of establishing a farming system that is based on ancient, traditional Chinese farming practices.

How it works

The urban residents that want to receive organic produce sign up in this project and sponsor one of the families of farmers. As a result, they receive organic products delivered to their doors, every week.These products include potatoes, mushrooms, a wide variety of locally seasonal green produce, eggs and meats. The sponsoring participants can also visit the farm they chose to sponsor and are encouraged to visit other farms in the network. This way, they can have a better understanding of eco-agriculture and also enjoy the rural landscape.

Benefits for the village communities

In the past, many farmers have abandoned their farms and moved to the city for a better life and pay. Many agricultural communities have become broken families because of this. A normalizing trend of slowing economic development means that many such migrant workers are desperate for the means to make a living in their home villages.

The Rainbow of Hope aims to reduce the urban migration by offering farmers an incentive to stay on their farms. With the help of their sponsors, farmers can now switch to sustainable farming. This way, they can sell their products and have a reliable and gainful monthly income.

Sustainable farming

Crop rotation represents a form of sustainable agriculture. It also produces much healthier food. The farms in the Rainbow of Hope project combine traditional Chinese farming techniques with technology. This eventually leads to controlling pests and keeping the soil healthy and pesticide free. The farmers only use natural fertilizers such as pig, chicken, and green manure made of composted nitrogen-fixing legumes grown intermittently. Crop rotation means sticking to a regular cycle of growing different types of products, rather than «specializing» in a single product. The crops vary from mushrooms to vegetables and rice.

This kind of food production at a larger scale is also sustainable because it reduces the CO2 emissions. The amount of smog is significantly decreased in the post-harvest season when crop residue is not burned. Plus, toxic chemicals aren’t used at all on these lands. As a result, there is no soil and water contamination by toxic substances, and the farmers are not exposed to carcinogenic pesticides. In today’s world, facing a barrage of frightening global trends such as pollution, collapse of pollinating insect populations, water scarcity and global warming, purchasing more food from sustainable farms provides a very simple way for urban consumers to slash their environmental footprint in a meaningful way.

Why and how can you join?

You too can become a sponsor in the Rainbow of Hope project and farmer families. You can now choose to consume chemical-free food that comes directly from a sustainable agricultural community. You can enlist in the program and receive your food from a particular farm after you place your order. You can choose from a comprehensive list of vegetables, eggs and meat products. These will be delivered every week, straight to your door.

You can learn more about the project and sign up following this link: www.rainbowofhope.cn

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Originally published at cn-cfs.com.

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