Philip Ack­er­man-leist

A Pre­cau­tion­ary Tale

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Nonfiction -

Chelsea Green Pub­lish­ing • 978-1-60358-705-1 chelsea­green.com/philip-ack­er­man-leist What’s ahead in the strug­gle be­tween lo­cal farm­ers and gi­ant agrobusi­nesses?

Ideally, there would be di­a­log in lieu of law­suits and crim­i­nal acts di­rected to­ward the cit­i­zens of Mals. How­ever, gov­ern­ment author­i­ties are cur­rently su­ing ac­tivists and a lo­cal film­maker for tak­ing on the “ap­ple car­tel.” Per­haps worse, in late Septem­ber, some­one sprayed glyphosate on the or­ganic fruit trees of Ägid­ius Wel­len­zohn, the or­ganic fruit pi­o­neer I pro­file in the book, not only ru­in­ing the ap­ple crop he was about to har­vest for mar­ket but also nul­li­fy­ing his or­ganic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for the next three years. The peo­ple of Mals chose a dif­fi­cult path, but they con­tinue to re­sist and per­se­vere in cre­ative ways.

What in par­tic­u­lar at­tracted you to the story of Mals and its cit­i­zens?

Two decades ago, I worked in or­chards and vine­yards an hour’s drive from Mals for three years—mean­ing I spent a lot of time in a rub­ber suit and res­pi­ra­tor. Mals is a place where I’ve taken Amer­i­can groups for 3-5 day walk­ing tours to ex­plore the unique land­scape and food tra­di­tions. Trad­ing that fer­tile, di­verse land­scape for a toxic mono­cul­ture made no sense to me—and I wanted to share the brave story of the Malsers.

What can other com­mu­nity or­ga­niz­ers learn from the ex­am­ple of Mals?

Although not par­tic­u­larly ex­pe­ri­enced in ac­tivism, the cit­i­zens of Mals be­gan by hold­ing two-dozen pub­lic in­for­ma­tion ses­sions on the sci­ence be­hind their con­cerns. Then they be­gan build­ing con­sen­sus around a com­mon vi­sion for the fu­ture. With the added boost of some guerilla-style art and ad­vo­cacy events, they next used di­rect democ­racy to turn vi­sion into pol­icy. And in­stead of us­ing words like “no,” “not,” and “ban,” they opted in­stead to “Say yes to a pes­ti­cide-free fu­ture!”

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