EcoFarm stands in solidarity with Black communities and People of Color in grieving and protesting the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbaury and so many other African Americans at the hands of systemic racism and police brutality.
To some, this may seem outside of EcoFarm’s mission. We disagree. We believe that racism and capitalism are intertwined. The racism that allows the police to brutalize and harass the Black community is part and parcel of the economic system that leads to the destruction of ecosystems and exploitation of workers in the food system.
It is no secret that American agriculture and the food system have been deeply racist since colonization. Much of our nation’s historic wealth was grounded in the use of slaves. Black farmers have been dispossessed of their lands and systematically denied access to federal farm programs. Our agrarian mythology ignores the indigenous genocide that made farming across America possible. Those who pick, process, serve, and cook our food are overwhelmingly black and brown persons. These workers are all too often underpaid, and subjected to other abuses such as wage theft, substandard housing, sexual harassment, pesticide poisonings, and denial of their basic human rights and dignity.
For EcoFarm to fulfill its mission of promoting ecological agriculture, our work has to be grounded in principles of social, economic, and racial justice. To ignore these broader issues will only allow the injustices to persist. Overcoming racism is a precondition to fostering ecological agriculture.
EcoFarm continues to be a white-led organization. Racism, white power and privilege are a white person’s problem to solve. We must learn how racism and white supremacy are embedded in our consciousness, our organizations, and our work. We must call it out, challenge it, learn to feel more empathy, and overcome it at all levels.
Our work as staff goes far beyond issuing statements of support. We are committed to doing three things:
- Examining and changing our policies and practices to break down institutionalized white supremacy in our organizational practices, culture, and programs;
- Creating space and building capacity for learning and dialogue about racism and racial justice in agriculture and the food system among our community;
- Amplifying the voices of our black, indigenous and people of color allies in the food system.
EcoFarm is known for bringing people together for education, alliance building, advocacy, and celebration. We thank you for your participation in EcoFarm’s events over the years. It is not only our place, but our responsibility to take a public stance against racism and all forms of injustice in our country.
We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter to stamp out white supremacy wherever it may be found, particularly in our corner of the food system and our organization. We urge all members of the EcoFarm community to stand with us.
EcoFarm is taking numerous steps to be a better ally. Here are just a few of the steps we’ve taken:
- An expanding Spanish language program at the conference, with numerous workshops, pre-conference seminars, and keynotes in Spanish. The registration fee for monolingual Spanish speakers is reduced at $50/day, and we are working to increase attendance.
- An increasing number of keynotes and workshops on social justice topics, with recent keynote sessions led by BIPOC farm and food leaders such as Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, Leah Penniman, Saru Jayaraman, Rupa Marya, Ricardo Salvador, Ben Burkett, Karen Washington, Jose Oliva, Mario Sifuentes, Vandana Shiva, and many more. In 2021, 50% of our speakers self-identified as BIPOC or of mixed race, as part of our insistence to diversify the representation of our speakers.
- Held a successful training on whiteness at the 2021 conference.
- An effort to bring greater indigenous representation to the conference through a Native American safe space, partnership with the Amah Mutsun on a regenerative pre-conference, with profits from the event directed to them, as well as encouraging land acknowledgements at every session.
- Efforts to transform the culture of the conference through affinity groups and training moderators and speakers on cultural sensitivity and preventing microaggressions.
- A change over time in the workshop selection process to democratize the process and bring in BIPOC voices.
- An effort to raise an additional $25,000 in funds for young and beginning farmer scholarships this year.
- In 2022-2023, we’re planning an organizational assessment of our racial equity work and opportunities for transformation; an integration of anti-racism into our strategic plan; a continued expansion of our Spanish language programming; and a comprehensive anti-racism plan oriented at structural racism within the organization.
– EcoFarm Staff and Board