As a part of Earth’s Promise work to establish an Urban Farm supported by Local Sustainable Economy, employees and volunteers took to the streets to interview local businesses. All of the businesses that we interviewed are located in neighborhood “Gimel” in Beer Sheva. Many of the businesses have been operating in the neighborhood for a many years. It is important when starting a Local Sustainable Economy to understand the needs of the local businesses. Earth’s Promise did a survey to learn about how an Urban Farm providing local organic produce could help them.
When starting a door-to-door campaign, many of the activists are weary about the results. People think that the businesses will not be receptive to them or the idea, that they will reject listening or simply not have enough time from their busy schedule. The reality of the situation is dramatically different. When we went from business to business to understand the extent and depth of their willingness to participate in this social and economic experiment their reaction was incredibly encouraging. Almost every business owner said that they would be willing to give discounts to card-holding volunteers and activists. The basis of a local sustainable economy could be built with the confidence of the community and the investment of businesses.
One falafel storeowner pledged to buy all of his monthly demand of vegetables from the farm. I asked him if he could pledge anything in addition to a discount. He told me that he wanted to teach how to make food. He served most of his adult career in the IDF and after opened “Falafel with a Wide Heart”. Not only does he serve the local falafel and shawarma flare, but also has home cooked food every day. His confidence in the community in which he works is proof that local sustainable economy is a grassroots venture.
Another specialty Russian grocery store said that she doesn’t buy too many vegetables but she said she would be willing to give discounts to local volunteers. When we asked what else she could offer, she mentioned that she could give Russian language lessons.
What we mainly learned from the canvass was that local businesses are active members of their community and willing to improve the neighborhood in order to improve their businesses.
Our next step is to canvass the community, inform them of the possibilities and explain the process, and find particularly interested activists. During the last week of January we will be breaking ground on the farm in a Tu B’Shvat celebration.