Aaron De Long, from Pottstown in Pennsylvania, receives a 2021 Nuffield International Scholarship supported by Delmarva, a collaboration of organisations from a large peninsula on the East Coast of the United States.
Aaron is Program Manager for Pasa Sustainable Agriculture, a non-profit organisation whose mission is to cultivate environmentally sound, economically viable and community-focused farms and food systems. The 5,000 Pasa members include over half who identify as farmers.
Aaron's role includes farm-based research projects, education coordinator for dairy grazing apprentices, grant writing, administration activities and coordinating webinars and in-person events.
In addition to the Pasa role, Aaron grows cut flowers on his partner Emma's vegetable farm and manages a wild population of goldenseal for the local herbal market. In 2021, Aaron and Emma will launch a regional farm-food aggregator business.
For his Nuffield Scholarship, Aaron will study the design and construction of strong, resilient, local food systems, focusing on shortening supply chains and increasing direct connections between farms and consumers.
"This research is about reinvigorating local food production as a cornerstone economic driver. Integrated into this work is increasing food access locally as well as viewing food production and responsible land stewardship as complementary practices," Aaron says.
"Degradation of water quality, soil health and quality of diet - both in my community and throughout much of the wider world - can be connected to the disappearance of many small farms to development, as well as the intensification of farm practices with high social and environmental costs".
During COVID-19, Aaron saw multiple points of weakness exposed within the larger food system and global supply chains, while at the same time many smaller producers and regional systems performed well.
"COVID-19 has shown me that small, multi-faceted, and local, is a viable path towards true resilience within our food system. Food grown locally insulates a community from breakdowns in longer supply chains, while dollars spent locally stay in a community longer and provide a buffer to global economic trends."
Aaron has a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources, a Master of Fine Arts in fiction, and a certificate in Agroecology from the University of California. He is also a Board Member for the Pennsylvania Center for Poultry and Livestock Excellence as well as Pennsylvania FarmLink and serves as a Technical Advisor with the Pennsylvania Grazing Lands Coalition. In addition to his passions for agriculture and writing, Aaron has been a Buddhist meditation instructor and teacher since 2011.
This scholarship is a collaboration of organisations based in Delmarva, including Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit Foundation; Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit; Mountaire Farms; Russell Stevens Farms; Nagel Farm Service; Tri-Gas & Oil. For further information regarding Nuffield Scholars in the USA, contact Ed Kee, President, at 302-222-0282, firstname.lastname@example.org