Edible DC: Eating Greener: Future Harvest CASA aims for healthier farms, people and animals

From Edible DC by Lani Furbank:

“Early in Dena Leibman’s career she believed that farming and environmentalism didn’t mix. “I had this naïve, ‘farmers are the enemy’ kind of approach. To me, wilderness was sacred,” she recalls.

Her career had been built on work with the National Park Service, the US Forest Service, the National Wildlife Federation and the Environmental Protection Agency and was all rooted in protecting nature. It wasn’t until she took a job with the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program that she began to understand how farmers could make land and water stewardship a priority.

“That job just changed my life. I learned about sustainable agriculture and it introduced me to the realities of farming. My black-and-white views became a whole lot grayer,” she says.

She now has her own farm—primarily a retreat center for nonprofits—which led her to Future Harvest CASA (Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture.

“When we bought the farm, I went to every single Future Harvest CASA field education event I could go to,” she says. “It taught me a lot about what I didn’t want to do.” Eventually she became the nonprofit’s executive director, a role she’s held for the past five years.

Future Harvest CASA’s mission is to advance agriculture that is profitable, protects land and water and strengthens communities. “That’s our core mission,” she says. “It’s not that easy, but it’s doable, and farmers prove it all the time.”

This year, the organization is celebrating its 20th anniversary and launching a major education campaign. We sat down with Dena to discuss her life as a farmer, her work at Future Harvest and the Go Grass-fed Campaign.”

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