Eight years ago, Rebekah Stetson, was a corporate banker, but then her life flipped.
Helping Others Realize Healthy Choices
Today, in mid-November with the first snowflakes of the season falling on Reno, she gives a tour of the demonstration gardens she is helping with at the High Desert Montessori School off of Oravada St. She also helps with their lunch program, and trying to develop more outdoor growing spaces and classrooms in an already lush and colorful environment.
A Long List of Endeavors
“Whatever project I am asked to do if I am able to be a part of that’s what I do. Whatever people are ready to learn is what I am willing to teach,” she says.
In her post banking life, Stetson has been an organic farmer, specializing in organic pork and organic goat dairy, as well as a manager for school gardens in Lyon County. She has been a health policy advocate at the state level, and has helped start or is currently helping with several youth community gardens in Reno.
Consulting, Speaking Out and Raising Money
Stetson's list of current activities is varied. She consults with farmers and ranchers, who raise native grasses to let cows feed themselves, rather than cutting hay for them. Stetson is also currently fundraising for the Reno Initiative Living Room communal housing effort, which will also have a garden component.
She speaks out against the use of pesticides in local parks and national food supplies and also helps people who want to raise animals at home whether it’s legal or in a grey area. “There’s always the idea of do I ask for permission or forgiveness?” she explains. “Talk to your neighbors,” she suggests if you have any big plans to raise food in your backyard. “Take the power back,” she advises.
Why is it so important to go local when making and consuming food?
“What is coming to the market in the grocery store for the most part is not nutritionally dense food. It’s not done as well as it could be. When you know your local farmer and you are getting your food locally, you’re not using a lot of fuel consumption, because everything is happening in proximity, also you are getting a product that is so much more nutritious than what you could get from the grocery store. I’m all about personal wellness and community wellness. I see a lot of unwell people and I see bad food being a root cause of a lot of issues.”
What if you feel you only have the time and money for a regular grocery store?
“If you can only shop at a grocery store, shop the perimeter of the grocery store, don’t shop the inner aisles, because that’s where all your processed and packaged foods are. We really have to start voting with our dollars too. If we don’t put our dollars into markets that we don’t believe in, those markets will cease to exist, because our entire economy revolves around supply and demand. If we look at how much we spend in health care costs and if we flipped that and if we spent that on high quality food we would have so many more ‘well people’. It’s just making that conscious decision that I am willing to do something proactive that’s different. Change is uncomfortable, but I’m trying to make it so that it invades our local culture and becomes common practice.”
For those already on this journey, any tips as winter approaches?
“The ground has not frozen yet, so it’s still not too late to bring your garlic and onions in. Don’t limit your beliefs of what can grow. You can grow carrots, turnips, beets, chard, spinach, kale, there’s tons of winter crops which can grow here. You can do yourself a huge favor by building some hoops over your row of whatever you plant and putting some plastic or something that you can see through, over it, to keep some of that warmth in during the day.”