No secret that we can’t be exactly unbiased talking about the latest Our Land episode, but as a blogger who has essentially no film-making skills and had no part in the making of this video, I have to say that it’s kind of the bomb-diggity. Episode Six, “Building a Regional Food System,” which follows the Cook family of Maine. The Cooks are responsible for the first large organic potato operation in Aroostiuck County, the phenomenally innovative and inspiring Crown of Maine Co-op, and Northern Girl— a value added processing plant that provides rural farmers with access to institutional buyers across New England. The story and its footage is as poignant and hopeful as you’d like to start off your day, but the video goes so far beyond your typical feel-good foodie youtube piece and into the nitty-gritty challenges of what it actually takes to create resilient regional food systems.
Today on Greenhorns Radio, Sev speaks to Faith Gilbert, author of the Greenhorns Guidebook Cooperative Farming, a how-to handbook on forming collaborative farm ventures, and the Vegetable Manager and Administrative Lead at Letterbox Farm Collective. Letterbox, which produces everything from vegetables to pasture rabbit (which you may remember from our post earlier this week), uses a cooperative model to increase worker investment and spread power horizontally through the farm.
Faith and Sev will talk cooperative farming, Hudson Valley, and community organizing in the digital agrarian age LIVE today at 4:00 PM on Heritage Radio Network. Tune in then, or, as always, catch the podcast any time after the show airs!
It’s Tuesday, and we bet that you could use your daily dose of inspiration from people doing beautiful things in the spirit of hope and transformation. It’s another day, and we have another rad collective farm for you– and for this one, we are calling on the Greenhorns community to help amplify and support the voices and work of people of color who are doing incredible work in food justice, community building, and the resistance of oppression.
Introducing Earthseed Land Cooperative! A “transformational response to oppression and collective heartbreak: a model of community resilience through cooperative ownership of land and resources,” created by a visionary group of “black and brown parents, activists, artists, educators, business owners, farmers, and researchers, who came together to remember our relationships to land, to livelihood and to each other.”
The Cooperative is committed to centering the voices of people of color and other traditionally marginalized communities. They grow food with the intention of increasing access to fresh produce, offer classes and youth programs, and offer a retreat and sanctuary space for activists and artists. In their own words, “Our work is to support our members, our compañerxs in resistance, and our broader communities: to grow food, to grow jobs, to grow movements, to grow spirit and mind; to hold ceremony, to hold our differences, and to hold our common liberation.”
I’m sorry, I just can’t write any more without a firm and capitalized, HECK YES.
And now, to the point: Earthseed Land Cooperative has recently found a new home for their Tierra Negra Farms in 48 acres of pasture and woods in North Durham, NC., and they need help to get their programming and farming firmly rooted in this new ground.
Learn more here, donate to the campaign, and consider becoming a sustaining supporter of their radical efforts.
AMPLIFY: Give them some love on Facebook, send out an email with our campaign info, tell your friends and family!
Abode Farm is Hiring for 2017!
Abode Farm— is a cooperatively run 8-acre horse-powered farm in New Lebanon, NY. We produce vegetables, herbs, and flowers for our summer and winter CSA, wholesale accounts, schools, and farmers markets. Our farm is located on historic Mount Lebanon, a diverse ecological site; with wetlands, ponds, streams, woodlands, and meadows. We work to honor this diversity in our growing practices with a holistic farm system that builds soil, protects wildlife, and produces healthy crops.
Practices— Our bio-extensive farm system focuses on diversity, cover cropping, composts, mineral amendments, and careful crop rotation. We do not use any synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides on our farm. We rely on our Belgian draft horses as our primary source of power, which helps us stay light on the land, and sensitive to the biological rhythms we work with. We also use a small Farmall Cub tractor for bed-preparation and light tillage.
Community— The farm is a dynamic educational and community space. We share our land with The Abode of the Message—a Sufi spiritual community, and Flying Deer Nature Center. It’s a busy place and there are always events going on. At the farm, we host many performances, workshops, potlucks, artists’ visits, and educational programs throughout the season. Community outreach and food access are extremely important to us. We are looking for someone who has an interest in community organizing, food justice, and education in addition to holistic agriculture.
Abode Farm Job Description
Seeking – 2 Full-time farm co-workers
Start/End – April-November
Schedule – Tuesday–Friday 7:30-5pm, weekend chore rotation
Spring and Fall hours 8:30am-5pm
35-40hrs/week—potential for extra hours
Compensation – TBD, $10/hr or Housing & Stipend
Full job description below the break! (more…)
“A coalition of growers is working with Haringey Council to explore taking on Wolves Lane, a 2 acre former plant nursery in north London. The goal is to turn the site into a centre/hub for community food enterprise and prevent the loss of the extensive rare urban glasshouse infrastructure.
The lead partner is Organiclea, an award winning and internationally renowned workers’ co-operative with over 15 years of experience doing similar work in a neighbouring London borough. They have a 12 acre site nearby and are currently supporting new groups of growers to take on sites under their farmstart program.
The aim is for an initiative that grows and distributes sustainably produced food to local residents and businesses; engages a wide range of people in learning and skills activities, and health and well-being benefits; establishes itself as a centre for promoting healthy eating; and offers space for community groups and social enterprises to run activities that benefit the community.
A presentation is being given to the council on 10th October and the pitch would be greatly enhanced if we could find seed funding of £20k. Given the tight turn around of this bid, we are seeking this from private donors and trusts; this money could be given as a gift or a ten year loan, if preferred.
Please contact Brian Kelly on 07816 930585 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to find out more.”
Is there a single thing that we don’t LOVE about this video, idea, and people? Mmm… don’t think so. This sweet band of small farmers have formed a small island of small-scale diversified growing in largely conventional area to form a cooperative marketing organization. While they are committed to proving good food to their rural community, they are finding it difficult to make ends meet with their small rural customer base. They hope that by cooperatively marketing, they will be able to form a broader market without leaving their communities.
To collectively market in a way that reduces cost and expands their markets, they are raising money to buy a delivery vehicle and to cover the administrative costs of forming a cooperative.
Fund their Indigogo campaign here: Middle Georgia Growers Co-op Crowdfunding Campaign! And, while you’re at it, if you liked the video, check out Forage Films on Vimeo.
On February 21, 2014, 49 years to the day after Malcolm X’s earthly form fell to assassins’ bullets in Harlem, Chokwe Lumumba, the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, came home to find the power out. The outage affected only his house, not any others on the block. He phoned friends for help, including an electrician, an electrical engineer, and his longtime bodyguard—each in some way associated with his administration. They couldn’t figure out the problem at first. They called the power company, and waited, and as they did, they talked about the strange notions that had been circulating. At the grand opening of Jackson’s first Whole Foods Market a few weeks earlier, a white woman said she’d been told at her neighborhood-association meeting that the mayor was dead. He’d been coughing more than he should’ve maybe, and his blood pressure was running high, but he was very much alive. He gave a speech at the grocery store that day.
In a time of outcry for black lives across the United States, Lumumba had come to office in a Southern capital on a platform of black power and human rights. He built a nationwide network of supporters and a local political base after decades as one of the most radical, outspoken lawyers in the black nationalist movement.
To read on, click HERE!
In this month’s issue of Vice magazine, Vice took a long look at one answer to that question in Jackson, Mississippi. There, in 2013, voters elected black-nationalist lawyer Chokwe Lumumba as mayor based on promises of direct democracy and cooperative enterprise. Lumumba died unexpectedly less than a year later, but the story of what he tried to carry out in Jackson remains a possible future for Black Lives Matter—especially now that BLM spokesman DeRay Mckesson is running for the mayor’s office in Baltimore.
“Katrina taught us a lot of lessons,” Rukia Lumumba said. The group started to think about the need to control the seats of government, and to control land. “Without land, you really don’t have freedom.”
To read more about Lumumba, a Jackson Mississippi black lives matter activist, and his death 8 months after becoming the Mayor of Jackson in a landslide victory, click HERE!
The Working World is a non-profit organization that provides investment capital and technical support for worker cooperatives using an innovative finance model.
Worker cooperatives represent a valuable alternative to more traditional business structures. All members of a cooperatively-run business share the labor, decisions, responsibilities, profits, and ownership shares. The result is a democratic workplace that encourages active participation and shared wealth creation. And as a model based around its members’ desires and needs, worker cooperatives are deeply rooted in local communities, growing out of and in turn nurturing the neighborhoods that surround them.
We support worker cooperatives using a finance model that puts money at the service of people, not the other way around. We help design, fund, and carry out productive projects, only requiring that cooperatives pay us back with the revenues the investments generate. As active partners, we are more motivated to ensure that these projects are successful, or in other words, that finance is only used as a tool to create real, lasting wealth for those that it serves.
Upon return, all investment money is reintegrated to our locally-based revolving loan fund to be overseen by the cooperatives and the community it serves.