CHECK OUT this incredible resource and guide for addressing and dismantling racism in the food system, galvanizing the movement for land and racial justice, written by the illustrious folks at Soul Fire Farm.
Thank you to Nora Feldhusen, Organizing Committee Member of the Hudson Valley Young Farmers Coalition, for recently circulating the document. In her words, this “is a great resource for considering how we can move towards food sovereignty, centering BIPOC communities. In particular, a great starting point in this document is section #5 on Internal Organizational Transformation for actionable ways to build more equity and antiracist practices into our farms and organizations.”
Text from WhyHunger: “Six years of experience under their belt, grassroots organizations launched this year a new publication describing their path to scale agroecology in rural and urban areas. “The People’s Agroecology Process: Unlocking Our Power Through Agroecology” includes personal testimonies, the method applied and a timeline of events since 2015.”
“The Process” – as the initiative is called – started with the Campesino a Campesino Agroecology Encounter in Fellsmere, Florida led by migrant farmworkers. The event’s host, the Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF), a member of La Via Campesina International, had participated in learning exchanges in Guatemala, Cuba and Brazil and took on the task to scale out agroecology among its members through a set of popular education methodologies. Through this experience, FWAF and a group of ally organizations from Puerto Rico, Canada and the United States (inspired by the Farmer-to-Farmer Methodology in Cuba) envisioned a “process” to replicate the experience in Black, Latino and Native American communities. Seven agroecology encounters later, the initiative has brought together hundreds of farmers, farmworkers, fisherfolk and urban growers to learn with each other and practice agroecology.
This publication summarizes the overarching framework, practices and experiences of the protagonists of the People’s Agroecology Process. It is not a step-by-step manual, nor does it intend to be a comprehensive response to the many questions facing our movements.
Positions are based on a farm in Lisbon, ME. You can send application documents by email to Alex Redfield at firstname.lastname@example.org and call (207) 475-7235 with questions.
1) Write a letter explaining why you are interested in this job and why you are a good candidate.
2) Send a resume or CV that lists your previous work and education experience
3) Send a list of three people, (their names, phone numbers or email addresses) that you have worked for in the past. These people will be your references and should be willing to confirm that you are a good employee. These people can not be members of your family.
Filled with deeply moving insights, analyses and philosophical unpacking of American racism and the “criminal injustice” system, Alexander offers this list of resources to further educate ourselves to the blatant racism that has been systematically forgotten:
There are many excellent books, articles and films that can help to put our racial moment in context. A good place to start if you are new to racial justice history and advocacy is Ibram X. Kendi’s trio of books, “How to Be an Antiracist” “Stamped From the Beginning” and “Stamped,” his young adult book co-authored with Jason Reynolds. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s book “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation” and Ava Duvernay’s film “13th” are especially relevant now. And Andrea Ritchie’s book “Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color” is essential reading, given the comparatively little attention that police killings of black women typically receive. Paul Butler’s book “Chokehold” is an excellent exploration of police violence against black men — past and present. The documentary “Whose Streets?,” depicting the aftermath of Michael Brown’s murder and the uprisings in Ferguson, Mo., will open your eyes to the tragedies and triumphs of that period, as well as “blatant racism and hypocrisy on display from the powers that be,” in the words of a writer in Rolling Stone magazine.
Tune in!! Make your voice heard and participate in the public dialogue! From scholars like the leaders of organization Soil4Climate: the global movement of scientists, practitioners, and engaged citizens working to make soil a climate solution ——-
“Gather celebrates the fruits of the indigenous food sovereignty movement, profiling innovative changemakers in Native American tribes across North America reclaiming their identities after centuries of physical and cultural genocide. On the Apache reservation, a chef embarks on a ambitious project to reclaim his tribe’s ancient ingredients; in South Dakota, a gifted Lakota high school student, raised on a buffalo ranch, is using science to prove her tribe’s native wisdom about environmental sustainability; and in Northern California, a group of young men from the Yurok tribe is struggling to rehabilitate its rivers to protect the salmon. Gather beautifully shows how the reclaiming and recovery of ancient foodways provides a form of resistance and survival, collectively bringing back health and self-determination to their people.”
6:40 PM EDT – Start watching the film 7:55 PM EDT – 5 min break – get your questions ready and re-fill your beverage! 8:00 PM EDT – Live Q&A with filmmaker Sanjay Rawal, HRW’s Acting Women’s Rights Co-Director Amanda Klasing & special guests. Register here!
Follow @gatherfilm on Instagram to stay tuned on the release.
Watch this 15-minute documentary from The Atlantic, How Black Americans Were Robbed of Their Land — based on Vann R. Newkirk’s article, “The Great Land Robbery.” Description from the Atlantic below:
Over the course of the 20th century, black Americans have lost approximately 12 million acres of land. This mass land dispossession—a war waged by deed of title, which has affected 98 percent of black farmers—can only be called theft, says Atlantic writer Vann R. Newkirk II in a new documentary.
The Scott family, from Mound Bayou, Mississippi, can trace their land ownership back to 1938, when the family’s agriculturally gifted patriarch began amassing more than 1,000 acres. By the late ‘80s, the Scotts had all but lost their land entirely. What happened in those intervening years is a complex story of systematic discrimination that’s emblematic of the experience of many black families in America.
“If you look at the Scotts, what the land meant to them wasn’t just money,” Newkirk says in the film. “It was destiny. It was something to hold onto. It was a purpose and something that held their family together through generations.”
“The number of black farmers in America peaked in 1920, when there were 949,889. Today, of the country’s 3.4 million total farmers, only 1.3%, or 45,508, are black, according to new figures from the US Department of Agriculture released [April 2019]. They own a mere 0.52% of America’s farmland. By comparison, 95% of US farmers are white.”
This article, published in The Guardian April 29, 2019 and written by Summer Sewell, shares the history of the land and the story of the life of John Boyd Jr., victor of the first-ever discrimination law suit against the USDA in 1997.
“The successful investigation on Boyd’s behalf prompted other black farmers to come forward with their stories, and in 1995 Boyd founded the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) after meeting with many black farmers and hearing similar USDA experiences.”
Inequality ensues today:
“The NBFA grant recipient Michael Coleman, 25, runs 14 head of cattle in Mississippi and majors in animal science at Alcorn State University, a historically black school. “These white cattle farmers are so much ahead of us it’s like we’re playing catch-up. They already know how to get the grant money, they already have old money,” Coleman says. “I mean, my dad was a sharecropper who worked 40 years in a factory 12 hours a day. Growing up, my father didn’t know about these programs.” Nearly half of all black-owned farms are cattle operations, but with so few black farmers overall, the crowds at livestock markets are mostly white. “I haven’t been called out my name,” he says, using slang for a racial slur, “but I’m not too sure how they treat or price the animals once they figure out you’re a black farmer,” Coleman says.”
This week on Meat and Three, we released a special episode that addresses recent police violence and revisits our tribute to Philando Castile, a school cafeteria worker who was killed by a police officer on July 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Philando’s mother Valerie Castile generously shared her thoughts on the current moment. Listen here.
HRN will donate 10% of proceeds from our membership drive starting today until June 15 to the Philando Castile Relief Foundation, which supports the families of victims of gun violence, pays school lunch debt for students in need, and advocates for police reforms.
Taking Action to Support Black-led Organizations on the Land
How do we engage the energy of this moment? Steeped in historical, legal and social disenfranchisement, the ongoing violence against black lives calls for long term, place-based and collaborative work. What would it look like to be in solidarity with all life? What would it look like to reimagine the commons*?
We need a “commoning” of privilege and wealth, a systemic transformation that counters the great “uncommoning” of schools, land, security, and resources that have shaped America’s historical looting. Let us build equity and make reparations through redesigning the food system and land arrangements whose roots are racist, colonial, and capitalist.
This work can take the form of securing land tenure for black farmers in rural spaces and in urban food apartheid; it can take the form of policies that create healthy, equitable food systems for both farmworkers and the land; it can happen with dismantling the mass incarceration system. Whatever form it takes, success depends on the generosity of those with access to capital and privilege to use their proximity to institutions of power for the rebirth of a new commons.
This calls for great organizational acuity and lots of work – work that is already being done by Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and POC farmers, organizations, and institutions. Below we have highlighted some of the many outstanding organizations doing this work with links to support them directly, along with resources for education and sharing. This list is in no way comprehensive, and we encourage you to comment below with any other organizations that are doing this work.
* “The commons” is a multilayered theoretical concept. Within the boundaries of the commons are physical land and waters, resources, public goods, structures of governance, culture, and knowledge and theory. While the commons can simply be imagined as shared resources, they have also come to represent a framework for thinking about ideologies, community, sustainability, and governance.
P.S. We’re building out a new website with updated blog and resource sections – how can we continue this conversation and make information sharing more useful to you? What do you want to see?
Black Family Land Trust The Black Family Land Trust, Inc. (BFLT) incorporated in 2004 and based in North Carolina, is one of the nation’s only conservation land trust dedicated to the preservation and protection of African-American and other historically underserved landowners assets.
Black Farmer Fund The Black Farmer Fund supports black farmers by increasing access to capital, supporting business ownership, supporting economic democracy, and creating social and cultural changes to support black sovereignty within the food and farm economy.
Earthseed Land Cooperative Formally established in 2012 by a group of black and brown farmers and social justice organizers. Over the past decade, they have sought to establish a stable land base for their families and an equally grounded, self-sustaining, and welcoming hub for community building, particularly among farmers of color and food justice advocates, in Durham, North Carolina.
Farms to Grow Farms to Grow, Inc is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to working with Black farmers and underserved sustainable farmers around the country. Farms To Grow, Inc. is committed to sustainable farming and innovative agriculture practices which preserve the cultural and biological diversity, the agroecological balance of the local environment.
Land Loss Prevention Projec LLPP is a non-profit public interest group that has been working for almost 40 years to curtail the epidemic loss of black-owned land in North Carolina. They provide planning and legal support, succession planning, and fight legal takings of black-owned land. LLPP helps farmers function under the weight of debt and market fluctuations, while supporting sustainable ecological and economic practices.
New Communities Land Trus New Communities Land Trust is a 501(c)(4) that began as a 5700-acre farm collective, and is widely recognized as the original model for community land trusts in the United States, and has been protecting communities of color in Georgia at a grassroots level for over 40 years, working for the better of human communities, wildlife habitat, and racial justice.
Planting Justice Planting Justice is a grassroots organization with a mission to empower people impacted by mass incarceration and other social inequities with the skills and resources to cultivate food sovereignty, economic justice, and community healing. Since 2009 Planting Justice has built over 450 edible permaculture gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area, worked with five high-schools to develop food justice curricula and created 40 green jobs in the food justice movement for folks transitioning from prison.
Soul Fire Farm Soul Fire Farm is a BIPOC*-centered community farm committed to ending racism and injustice in the food system. We raise and distribute life-giving food as a means to end food apartheid. With deep reverence for the land and wisdom of our ancestors, we work to reclaim our collective right to belong to the earth and to have agency in the food system. We bring diverse communities together on this healing land to share skills on sustainable agriculture, natural building, spiritual activism, health, and environmental justice. We are training the next generation of activist-farmers and strengthening the movements for food sovereignty and community self-determination. Soul Fire’s Founder, Leah Penniman, is also the author of Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land.
Southeastern African American Farmers’ Organic Network Southeastern African American Farmers’ Organic Network (SAAFON) is a nonprofit based in Atlanta, GA. We are a network of Black farmers in the Southeastern United States who are committed to culturally relevant, ancestrally guided, and ecologically sustainable agricultural-based living. SAAFON’s higher calling is to seek the liberation and empowerment of Black people through agricultural, food, and land-based strategies. We promote agricultural production and land management practices that are rooted in indigenous ways of knowing that span geographies, space and time. We recognize, honor and uplift the ways of our ancestors and ask for their guidance as we show how Black agrarianism offers solutions to some of the most pressing challenges of our communities. The SAAFON network allows our members to connect with like-minded farmers, to build collective power in order to achieve our visions of land-based success, and to model alternative ways of living in the 21st century.