Nona worked with Kindling for two years, co-ordinating the Feeding Manchester network. She dropped in for a chat with Emily, newest addition to team Kindling, to find out what she's been up to since moving back to Ohio and how her time in Manchester helped get her there.
Since returning to the US Nona has established an urban farm in Cleveland, where she and her business partner are growing organic produce for farmers markets and restaurants, aiming to grow the local organic food market. By acquiring an area of vacant land in the city, Nona hopes to bridge the divide between urban and rural farming by showing what you can grow in an urban environment. Business has been growing and despite some setbacks, Nona feels positive about the future and is hoping to start a veg box scheme next season.
Nona’s passion for farming stems from her experience WWOOFing, as well as her time spent growing with Moss Brook Growers in Manchester, where she gained experience and skills that she’s now putting into practice on her own farm. And it sounds like Kindling had an impact too; as well as inspiring and encouraging her to pursue the ambitious journey to establish her own farm, Kindling’s impact on her plans has been particularly felt in the governance and ownership sphere. Drawing on Kindling’s models, Nona would like one day to establish 'a co-operative farming model in Ohio that is open and supportive of all its members'.
When reflecting on the differences between her experience of the sustainable food movement in the UK and the US, Nona felt that the sustainable food sector in the US is more hierarchical, making it harder to get into as an outsider from a non-farming background. Similarly, in comparison 'the local food movement in Cleveland is less well established, with Manchester having a far more entrenched local food culture'.
Despite this, Nona was keen to stress that she still feels part of a broader food movement in Cleveland; ‘I love working with food because it brings together a myriad of issues that are related and can be tackled through food, in this way I feel part of something bigger’.
Reflecting on the impact of the recent US election on sustainable food, Nona felt that the food movement has been continually ignored by the mainstream and that this ignorance would continue under Trump; “in general it is a real challenge to localise anything in the US, everything is homogenised and this won’t change under Trump, making it difficult for local food to really develop”.
It was great to catch up with Nona, and exciting to hear how her time with us impacted on her journey into urban farming. If you are interested in Nona’s story or want to know more about Kindling and how you can get involved in sustainable food here in Manchester then please get in touch or go to our volunteer page for information on how to get involved.