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Artists for Local Agriculture

Food-sourcing meets DIY activism

By Austen Diamond
 Carissa Gardner & Mike Cundick of AFLA
Posted // May 16,2012 -

Michael Pollan slapped Mike Cundick in the face. The best-selling author and food-policy activist, Pollan, doesn’t have anything against the lead singer of local punk band Loom, he’s just like that—at least, when he drops knowledge. The Omnivore’s Dilemma opened Cundick’s eyes to how Americans and, more specifically, how he, his friends and his family, eat and source food. Cundick, on tour at the time, decided to strike out for change.

When he returned home, he called friend Dreu Hudson, I Am the Ocean frontman, to form Artists for Local Agriculture. “The chief complaint that we heard from people is that [activists and agriculturists] can’t make caring about local agriculture ‘hip,’” Hudson says.

The new nonprofit’s mission statement hones in on that: “People gravitate toward art and the artists behind it, and there is no better platform for engaging communities with positive change than through art.” Artists for Local Agriculture hopes to plant awareness seedlings in the community—for a younger, concert-going demographic—about everything from corporate agriculture to the needs of local farmers to what Hudson describes as “the benefits of growing, buying and consuming local and sustainable foods,” while raising money for local farms. The first fundraisers are set statewide with seven showcases from May 15 to 20, with local bands like Muscle Hawk, Cornered by Zombies and Loom, among others, slated to perform. At each concert, a minimum of $1 from each ticket will benefit a selected local farm or nonprofit.

This sort of grass-roots project isn’t anything new to Cundick or Hudson. “Coming from the DIY scene and playing in punk bands, this is where we started,” Hudson says. “It’s a kind of an up-yours-to-the-establishment mentality, and you want to make your own mark on the world.” He continues to say that it’s also about empowerment and education—two principles befitting a local agricultural revolution.

Music and the arts work best in communicating specific, poignant messages, so Artists for Local Agriculture thinks this union will be harmonious. While the current roster of supporting musicians leans primarily toward punk rock, Hudson says their goal is to make the genres all-encompassing; there are currently visual artists involved, as well.

Carissa Gardner, Artists for Local Agriculture operations manager, says that membership to the organization is free, and folks can sign up at AFLARevolution.org to receive information about upcoming events. “We want to educate ourselves and others around us,” Gardner says of the board’s—primarily made up of musicians—interest in expanding its knowledge base in this field. Beyond concerts and membership, AFLA hopes to create a structure so that other branches could be established outside of the homestead, in cities throughout the United States, Gardner says. But it all starts locally first.

CONCERT SERIES

Jesus or Genome, Danny the Skeleton Horse, White Nite, Andy Rice, Dut Dut @ Why Sound 30 Federal Ave., Logan, Tuesday, May 15, 6 p.m. $8

Jesus or Genome, Joel Pack, Utah Slim, Adam Virostka (I Am the Ocean), Trey Gardner (God’s Revolver) @ Poplar Street Pub, 242 S. 200 West, Wednesday, May 16, 9 p.m. $6

Gaza, Loom, Merlin’s Beard, Gunfight Fever, Cedars @ The Basement, 3109 Wall Ave., Ogden, Thursday, May 17, 8 p.m. $7

Day Hymns, Loom, Maraloka @ Muse Music 151 N. University Ave., Provo, Friday, May 18, 6:30 p.m. $5

Despite Despair, John Ross Boyce & His Troubles, God’s Revolver @ ABG’s 190 W. Center St., Provo Friday, May 18 9:30 p.m. $5

Muscle Hawk, Dark Seas, Jesus or Genome, DJ Street Jesus @ The Urban Lounge 251 S. 500 East Saturday, May 19 9 p.m. $6

Cornered by Zombies, Done, Cicadas, Worst Friends @ The Urban Lounge, Sunday, May 20, 9 p.m. $6

Show Donations Will Benefit:
Logan: USU Student Farm; Ogden: Black Island Farm; Provo: Jacob’s Cove and TBD; Salt Lake City: The Delectation of Tomatoes (May 19) and Wasatch Community Gardens (May 20).

 
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