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Growing Empowerment: The Future of Farming is in Our Hands

By Rebecca North

We live in trying times, and now more than ever, we need to create support systems. None of us can go it alone, and we hope the Advancing Equity in Ecological Farming Pre-Conference will change the way you think about how farming is defined in the 21st century, as we creatively problem solve and strategize how to build each other up and change things at a local level.

Join us on Wednesday, January 23, 2019, to examine the intersectionality of community building, identity, and farming, and to connect, organize, and learn. The Pre-Conference will be moderated by food activist Joy Moore and will feature Karen Washington, Denisa Livingston, Nancy Vail, and Kellee Matsushita-Tseng. These experts will share their work and facilitate interactive conversations that will draw upon the knowledge and power of all participants.

Joy Moore

A long-time local food activist, Joy plays a key role in community efforts to reform school lunch programs in the Berkeley Unified School District. She co-founded Farm Fresh Choice (now known as the Berkeley Farm Stand), is a member of the Berkeley Food Policy Council, and is a producer at KPFA Pacifica, where she uses radio to encourage farming and gardening. As a veteran intergenerational garden instructor, she strives to educate low-resource communities about growing and eating organically. Joy will be leading us through the day, and in addition to the topics above, together we will look at the efforts EcoFarm has made to invite, recognize, and celebrate those who have historically been left out. We will also candidly discuss what EcoFarm can do better moving forward.

Karen Washington

Karen is a physical therapist turned full-time farmer, who brings over 30 years of experience with hands-on activism. She has published numerous articles, including one on food apartheid, in an effort to help us conceptualize food new systems. Karen will be framing discussions around strategic community building and moving forward collectively. She will guide us as we tackle the complex questions: How does social identity impact how we show up in this work? And how do we move forward with the knowledge and experience we each bring to the table?

Denisa Livingston

Denisa is a leader in food policy and food sovereignty in the Diné Nation. Her tireless work encourages us to value each other by educating communities and individuals about indigenous food culture and knowledge. We will dig deep into how colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy are used to justify the consolidation of wealth and power in the food system, as well as the exploitation of bodies and natural resources.

Nancy Vail

Nancy, co-founder of Pie Ranch, Pescadero, CA, is an empowering educator and holistic farmer.  As a farm owner and former instructor at UC Santa Cruz’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, Nancy understands the unique complexities of farming, owning, and preserving the organic land that previously belonged to the Quiroste Tribe. She advocates for and develops educational programs and sustainable food production in an effort to preserve the land, provide access to healthy food, and maintain the values of respect, justice, and collaboration. In our discussions, we will address root causes of inequity, and explore strategies for moving forward in healthy relationships with one another and the land.

Kellee Matsushita-Tseng

Kellee, a dedicated community organizer and instructor, encourages her students to think critically about food systems, labor rights, and land access. She will help us address challenging questions: How can we shift power and resources toward supporting politics and philosophies led and developed by marginalized folks on the front lines of farming and radical social change? And, how can we as individuals and organizations, including EcoFarm, subvert current systems and rebuild an equitable and just food system?

This pre-conference emerged as a rally cry for addressing head-on the lack of representation and inclusion in the larger food movement. We invite you to join us on this journey, and consider the challenges and questions noted above as they apply to the organizations, businesses, nonprofits, and movement groups you work with. Looking forward to seeing you there!

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Rebecca North is a mother, gardener, queer, hobby herbalist and straight-edge punk. She has a masters degree in transnational feminism from SFSU and is the director of quality and supply chain for The FruitGuys. An East Coaster, lover of cherries and running, Rebecca lives in San Francisco with her wife, toddler son, puppy, 10-year-old cattle dog, and Bernie the cat.