Skip to content Skip to main navigation Skip to footer

UPDATE: Regeneration Midwest coalition — not yet a political powerhouse, but growing

In mid-2017, when I first learned about a new food & farm coalition being organized in the Midwest — 12 states to be exact — my heart soared. As a Chicago girl, I always knew I’d spend my life in the Chicago area and that my geographic center would be the Upper Midwest and the Great Lakes. For 25 years, I became intimate with the plant life of the area as a professional gardener, now retired. Since 2005, I’ve worked on U.S. food & farm policy at all levels.

In February 2019, I wrote about the political potential of Regeneration Midwest — REGENERATION MIDWEST: 25% of Land, People, and U.S. Political Power?. Although now in 2021 the listserv is still small, the coalition did help to facilitate a major grant, which is in progress.

In December 2020, I did a Twitter thread (8) update. Although my own state — Illinois — has been losing population for ten years, this isn’t true of other Midwest states and it’s not because of the weather. I think this is a temporary blip based on the State’s finances and endemic corruption. Some of us are working hard on democracy, equity, local foods, public banks, etc. Stay tuned.

Now it’s time for an expanded update on Regeneration Midwest and the potential power of the Midwest region
— people, land, water, projects, independent media, etc.
— the Coalition
— the listserv
— the grant

SNAPSHOT

Reasons why the Midwest is where it’s at in 2021….and why we should collaborate across rural-suburban-urban jurisdictions for our collective futures:
—Soil + water (Upper Mississippi, Great Lakes)
—Re-populate rural areas  + rebuild and improve transportation infrastructure (esp. rail, mass transit, bicycle, pedestrian)
—Farmland likely to change hands (aging farmers) 
—Likely to be a destination of interstate migration
—William Greider’s quote as told by Pittsburgh labor reporter Mike Elk (PaydayReport) in his 2019 memorial to Cincinnati journalist William Greider (On the death of my friend & mentor William Greider):

As a Midwestern[er], Greider loved to tell [Lawrence] Goodwyn’s joke about “All how the authentic radicals were from the Midwest; that’s because all you Midwesterners believe all that crap about the goodness of America.”  

“It was true,” Greider told the Chicago DSA in 2010 of Goodwyn’s joke. “We still think America can get there. A lot of other folks have given up, but Midwesterners know that we are on the case and going to keep going.”

COALITION AND GEOGRAPHY

The 12 states included in Regeneration Midwest are: IL IN IA KS MI MN MO NE ND OH SD WI
I lobbied to include KY for two reasons:
—Kentucky is part of the Ohio-Mississippi-Missouri Rivers watershed
—Kentucky is included in the Midwest section of U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance
But the decision had already been made.

JOIN THE REGENERATION MIDWEST LISTSERV

Currently 128 members, about 15-20 emails per month.
Contact: Kaare Melby, Field Organizer Director
Organic Consumers Association
www.organicconsumers.org
kaare@organicconsumers.org

THE GRANT

Proposal to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Title: Regeneration Midwest: Scaling up climate and health solutions in agricultural communities across twelve U.S. states
Partnership: ARERC & RMW
Co-leaders:
— Rob Wallace, Agroecology & Rural Economics Research Corps (St. Paul, MN)
— Ann Wolf, Iowa Heartland Resource Conservation & Development (Indianola, IA)

2019 article about the project.
Regeneration Midwest: A bold vision for a healthier and more equitable tomorrow
by Ed Maibach

Official website: Midwest Healthy Ag
The first six states being studied are: IL IA KS MN NE WI
Informally, the research project is “dedicated to listening to farmers and farming communities about agriculture, the environment, community and health.”