By Madhava Smullen
According to NPR, fear of food shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred people on to plant more vegetable gardens; while community supported agriculture programs (CSAs) are booming.
In New Vrindaban, West Virginia, ISKCON’s first rural community which Srila Prabhupada earmarked as an example of sustainability to the world, resident devotees have a headstart, and are using the pandemic to push themselves closer to their goal of self-sufficiency.
A few weeks ago, responding to an impetus by the GBC and the ISKCON Ministry for Cow Protection and Agriculture, members of the ISKCON New Vrindaban and Eco-Vrindaban boards and New Vrindaban Village Council formed a small working group to explore New Vrindaban’s food security needs, and see what they could do to enhance food security in the short term.
Allegra Lovejoy Wiprud, a board advisor for ECO-V, graduate student at Yale Forest School and founding member of the Sacred Ecology Forum, says, “Many rural areas do suffer from food insecurity as practices of farming, food storage, and local-food diets have been supplanted over time by consumption patterns dependent on the mass supply chain. This food insecurity is often paired with economic insecurity, leading to a rural hunger crisis in many parts of America, which is exacerbated at times like this.”
Of course, New Vrindaban is fortunate to have had a focus on farming and rural food security for many years. To begin with, the ECO-V farms and staff, headed by General Manager Ranaka Das, supply a great deal of produce to the temple and community.