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New Agtivist: Growing food sovereignty in the desert

la semilla  food community (c) Grist Magazine, Inc. The people living in the desert borderlands of southern New Mexico face plenty of serious struggles: water is limited, living wages are scarce, and many live in unincorporated communities, which often lack basic infrastructure. This might cause one to presume that the residents are wondering whether or not they’ll have enough food. Not so, argues Rebecca Wiggins-Reinhard.Wiggins-Reinhard and two colleagues founded Semilla (“Seed” in Spanish), with plans to start a youth food policy council, a youth farm, and multiple produce stands.Tracy McMillan interviewed Wiggins about her path to food work, her plan to grow 500 foods in a desert, and what it’s like to promote local food in the country’s fifth-poorest state."You didn’t start out as a food person. How did you end up doing work that lured Mark Bittman to the desert?""[Before La Semilla] I was a grad student in political science, and I have a history of being involved in human rights movements on the border. I was working at Colonias Development Center, and I came in after a USDA Community food projects grant was [going] to start community gardens, and I realized I had a passion for working with youth and growing food. [Before that], if you’d asked me about food, I probably would have said, What’s the big deal, you go to the grocery store and you buy it. Once I saw that [only some] eaters have access to food and income to buy healthy food, how that’s a human rights issue, it was a natural fit for me. It was, 'How did I miss this?'"Interested?Read the whole interview!Wiggins-Reinhard is the director of the Farm Fresh program for La Semilla Food Center in Las Cruces, the largest city south of Albuquerque, USA.Tracie McMillan, a freelance journalist whose work centers on food and class, is a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. .