Kathleen Finlay has been a leader in regenerative agriculture for most of her career. As President of the Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming, she’s refined the organization’s mission and become a national figure in the United States in the world of progressive agricultural nonprofits. Under her leadership, Glynwood has become a premier learning hub for food and farming professionals.
Food is a fundamental health need:
The ambition of Glynwood is to create a just, healthy and equitable food system that’s accessible and affordable for all, not just the privileged few. But in order to create that reality, we need changes in policy, to stop treating agriculture as a commodity and see it instead as fundamental to our human health.
There will always be trade-offs but stay focused on your core purpose:
That’s the practice of leadership. What we’re trying to do is optimise health, including social health, and minimise harm. Agriculture is extractive, so in terms of longevity, our farmers make decisions every day about what we have to sacrifice in order to achieve our goals. As a leader of an organisation I try to look at the opportunities to serve our constituents and get fresh healthy food on the plates of as many people in our community as we can.
Fostering resilience is key even if it’s hard to measure:
Resiliency isn’t always efficient, it sometimes has redundancy, but it is long-lasting and adaptable, which is what we need in light of the climate crisis. We also need to think about how we assess the long-term benefits of resilience as a combination of qualitative and quantitative measures. Sometimes it’s possible to show metrics, but sometimes the benefits are intangible and rely on storytellers who can interpret progress in a way that’s not necessarily measurable.