Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vimala and the foodshed

My wonderful and community-minded brother, Bryan, sent me a article about an extraordinary woman. Vimala Rajendran has taken her love for local land (and the fruit it bears) and local people, blended them together to create an inspiring community-based business.

I won't retell the entire story, as you should read Tom Philpott's interview, but here's a quick teaser. Vimala is now the proud owner of her own restaurant, Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe, however this is the triumph after many trials and tribulations. Such hurdles include an early divorce leaving her with three children, no job or immigration papers. And I thought my problems were big...not to worry though, Vimala overcomes the odds!

As a "New Agtivist," Vimala's business method is to contribute to her regional food ecosystem or "foodshed." As I learn more about the farming culture here, I have found that the Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham communities are growing their support of local farms by leaps and bounds. And Vimala is certainly one of those supporters.

This particular ecosystem thrives thanks to contributors like Vimala who dedicate, day in and day out. Vimala is an integral part of her foodshed as she purchases in bulk from local producers and then turns around and teaches the community how to cook delish, healthy meals! Teaching the younger generation to cook and support one another may be one of the coolest gifts those baby boomers could give us! Right?

The Curryblossom Cafe's motto is on point:

"Our Mission

To bring our community together with warmth and hospitality over delicious, healthy, local food. To prioritize worker justice, environmental justice, social justice, accessibility, and sustainability at every level, not as a marketing lure, but as a principled practice.

Our Practice

We strive to source our produce and meat from small, local farms; pay a living wage; organize our workplace around joy and liberation; honor the land and our relationship to it; create an incubator for artists; and practice interdependence with other organizations and small businesses who share our values."

Tack on yet another reason to the long list of why I love living where I do - people care and act on that sentiment.

Though I've never been to Vimala's new cafe or attended one of her community dinners, I have a gut feeling that when I do, I'm going to love her and the food on principle alone!


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