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Posts Tagged ‘Grist’

Raising Voices

You all may remember how inspired I became from my journey last summer/fall – setting off to learn to farm and discover how race and justice fit into my passion for sustainability and healthy food.  The people I met and the feedback I received on questioning the intersection of race and food inspired me to begin working on some projects that will continue to feature farmers and food activists of color, and continue to raise the voice of this community while repainting the picture of agriculture and the good food movement.

I mentioned back in December to keep an eye out for some of these projects, and I have been a busy bee this winter – not just sulking about being broke and unable to farm-hop much –  but writing, grant searching, planning and collaborating with some wonderful people to create  –  The Color of Food — (the title of my series on Grist just kinda stuck – and is sticking within the movement as well check it out!)

….is a place to raise the voices of farmers and communities of color in the fight for just and healthy food systems.

The issue of race and food is something I can’t seem to stop thinking or talking about (as you know),  so I am excited to officially make it my focus through this organization.  Folks I met during my trip and with whom I continue to collaborate have made it so clear to me that this message has to be heard.  And the serendipitous timing of The Color of Food report I linked to above, released last week by ARC,  only confirms for me that the issue of racial inequity in our food system can no longer be ignored.

I will be continuing to build this organization with key partners, mentors and friends and I hope you all will check it out, join us,  give your input and contribute in any way you can!

 

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Many of you have been following my Color of Food series on Grist.org, in fact that’s how some of you found my blog! But for those that haven’t, I wanted to share the complete series here now that the season has ended along with my articles there.

See below for any articles you may have missed!

The Color of Food

In search of black and Latino farmers in the sustainable food movement

6 Oct 2010

In search of black and Latino farmers in the sustainable food movement image I’m stuck on this concept of blending contrasts. It may have to do with being the only brown girl I know interested in farming (although this really shouldn’t be a contrast at all); or maybe it has to do with going from D.C. political advocate to farmer-girl overnight.

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Hitting the Big Apple’s food-justice buffet

26 Oct 2010

Hitting the Big Apple’s food-justice buffet imageAdded-Value’s website says its mission is to grow a “just food system” and empower youth, so I was a little surprised to walk onto the farm and see no signs of this. For the most part, the farm seemed to be a commercial operation catering to restaurants and a Community Supported Agriculture program and market serving a wealthier, white consumer base…It’s become clear to me that the lack of  direct involvement by community members in some of these projects is the first problem with this movement.

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Food justice: It’s not black and white in Detroit

18 Nov 2010

Food justice: It’s not black and white in Detroit imageThroughout my journey I have found that white folks still fill most of the paid jobs at many food justice organizations and even urban farms that promote and support farmers of color. What does that matter? Some say it doesn’t, as long as the intention to get the work done is there. Others argue that the black community should be leading the fight. I stand somewhere in the middle. (Go figure.)

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Chicago has got it growing on

15 Dec 2010

Chicago has got it growing on image“In under-served communities there is often an undercurrent that things are owed to us. In a way they definitely are, but we owe some things to ourselves,” said Kern. “When I talk about farming with black youth, slavery comes up in the first 20 minutes, but the only reason I know anything about agriculture is because of my grandma. She had a garden in her backyard, but she didn’t do it for fun; she did it because she had to. Growing was her empowerment.”

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Postcard from the first annual Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference

30 Nov 2010

Postcard from the first annual Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference image

Gary Grant spoke to those of us who don’t live in the South about how alive racism still is there, especially for farmers. He painted a clear picture of how some of these regional USDA offices have Confederate flags and lynch nooses hanging on their walls. That sends an undeniable message to any black farmer walking in the door asking about why their loan is delayed.

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Brightening up the dark farming history of the Sunshine State

3 Jan 2011

ScottRobertson/CIW

It’s actually fitting that the end of my farming and food justice journey for this season has brought me to Florida. It is where I grew up and is home to my family, and it’s also home to many farmers of color that have emigrated here from the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The only problem is that some of the employers in these agricultural areas of Florida apparently think they’re the Spanish colonizers of 1565 … meaning slavery is OK in their book.

» read more

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You can check out my impression of Detroit during my short two weeks there in the latest post of my series on Grist.org: Peeling Back the Skin of Detroit.

Otherwise, I thought I’d document my time in D-Town through photos:

I arrived in Detroit and had arranged through the WWOOF program to stay and volunteer with Greg and Olivia, an amazingly cute and sweet couple engaged to be married next year, who run an organic urban farm called Brother Nature Produce. Olivia is a horticulturist raised in Detroit but comes from a family of farmers down South in Mississippi, and Greg is a former teacher of 15 years and has lived in Detroit for decades.

They have two “kids”: Vern and Aubin (named after streets in Detroit), a brother and sister duo that are the coolest, most bad-ass dogs in the city. Protectors of the farm and house, they also love to chase the wild pheasants that have populated the neighborhood and Aubin, the girl,  plays guinea pig for Olivia’s sewing machine creations.

The farm started as a garden in Greg’s backyard, then grew as he kept making use of the abandoned lots behind his house. Now there are 3 greenhouses and about a half acre of land. With plans to expand to another two lots next season, Greg and Olivia are growing mainly salad greens but are planning for varied veggies for a CSA as well as a flower farm.

Greg was gracious enough to take me around to many other urban farm projects, and one of which was the Catherine Ferguson Academy Farm. The academy is a school for pregnant teens and teenage mothers, where they are able to learn some parenting and care-taking skills on the farm by feeding and taking care of the various animals and plants.

We worked on many things from building compost windrows for the winter, to transplanting baby greens like kale and mizuna, to harvesting and shoveling horse manure for the beds and compost piles. Mind you, this is all taking place less than 4 minutes from downtown Detroit!

I went with Greg and Olivia early Saturday morning to sell their salad mixes at Eastern Market, where they set up their Brother Nature Produce table every week. The market was huge and bustling, one of the only places in Detroit that felt really alive.

The rest of the city, however, didn’t always feel so alive. Pictured here is one of the city’s typical abandoned homes near downtown.

The possibility of radical, innovative solutions in Detroit was definitely the vibe in the air, but after seeing some of the same old politics play out between the decision makers and the activists there, I also couldn’t help but wonder with a bit of despair what the future holds…

For more pictures see the photo gallery here

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