This month we’re honoring a longtime activist in Ojai’s local food movement, Dulanie Ellis. Dulanie shares, “my passion for food and agriculture developed as a result of moving to Ventura County and falling in love with the farmland. I realized if we weren’t careful and if we didn’t protect it, we would lose this rural quality of life.”
A woman of action, Dulanie jumped right in, getting involved with the OVGC when it first began. “Founding Board Member Dale Hanson originally suggested a Food & Nutrition panel,” says Dulanie about those first meetings. “I suggested we change it to ‘Food & Agriculture’ in order to include the food production element.”
This timely suggestion brought attention and support to the local food movement with the formation of the OVGC’s Food & Agriculture Committee. When Dulanie became the Food & Agriculture committee chair, the group decided to rotate its meeting location among each member’s home garden and include a potluck. “We discussed what our concerns were and what directions we wanted the committee to go [over a meal]. That way, it didn’t seem like just another meeting.”
Joined by Noel Douglas, who focused on food preparation and nutrition, and Julia Pfeiffer, who spearheaded an Ojai Grow Food Party Crew project (inspired by Devin Slavin’s Ventura Grow Food Party Crew), the Food & Agriculture committee flourished.
Over time though, membership involvement slackened, people “burned out” or moved, no one stepped up to take over, and so both programs went dormant. A little discouraged but not defeated, Dulanie began writing the “FOOD NEWS” about four years ago as a monthly blog for food information and a calendar of events.
“My vision for the FOOD NEWS is to provide a vehicle to keep people in touch with their food — where and how it’s grown, who grows it and how to share good food in community,” says Dulanie. “Many people are working on their own areas of concern, many overlap and most people are too busy to keep track of what others are doing.”
The FOOD NEWS aims to provide a go-to source for what’s happening in food and agriculture in the Valley and sometimes beyond. Dulanie includes regional topics, national food policy news and even “politics from time to time to provide context and opportunities to practice democracy.”
“Even though the ‘committee’ per se is inactive, I’ve stayed active because I believe that the OVGC is an essential component to Ojai community life. I like to share time with people committed to a more sustainable, less consumptive lifestyle, who are willing to do the work to shape our destiny.”
Along with her many other activities, Dulanie also served eight years on the Ventura Agriculture Futures Alliance. VAFA is a county wide collaboration among food leaders in the community who share a desire to build a vibrant, healthy, and durable food system.
Dulanie launched her own documentary production company to tell the story of farmland protection. “During that time I produced three short documentaries about various aspects of sustainable agriculture.” said Dulanie. “I worked with quality people in a variety of fields (production Ag, policy, environmental, civic, labor) who were all committed to solving the challenges to keep agriculture viable in Ventura County in perpetuity.”
More recently, Dulanie is the producer of the film “Ground Operations”, an award winning documentary about returning U.S. veterans recovery through farming.
"Ground Operations" is a catalyst for social action during this time when our nation needs a million new farmers in the next ten years,” says Dulanie. “More vets are discovering this as the perfect answer to re-entry into the working world while, at the same time, beginning to heal their psychological battle wounds.”
Now publishing FOOD NEWS on a quarterly basis, Dulanie’s passion continues to be healthy food, the land and the people who work it.
“According to the Supreme Court,” Dulanie points out, “we do not have an inherent right to eat the food we want. I disagree with that. I know that without an informed electorate, we are going to lose the ability to choose our own food. The biotech multinationals will make that impossible if they can. I work on behalf of seven generations of children and the land, which is being impoverished, one garden, one farm, one consumer at a time…I call on my neighbors to participate in their food system and send me information about events, new restaurants or recipes, films and books, food politics or activism.”
Dulanie is a powerhouse and great gift to this Valley, and the Coalition Board and Director want to thank Dulanie for her time and passionate commitment.
Contact Dulanie with FOOD NEWS content at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Ground Operations go to www.groundoperations.net.