Anuradha Mittal is the founder and executive director of the Oakland Institute, an independent policy think tank that works on a wide variety of social justice and international development issues, including the trend of foreign investment in land, or “land grabs”. Recipient of several awards, Anuradha Mittal was named as the Most Valuable Thinker by the Nation magazine in 2008. More recently, the Institute under Anuradha’s leadership unveiled land investment deals which revealed a disturbing pattern of a lack of transparency, fairness, and accountability. The dynamic relationship between research, advocacy, and international media coverage has resulted in an amazing string of successes and organizing in the U.S. and abroad. Ms. Mittal has also authored and edited numerous books and reports including (Mis)Investment in Agriculture: The Role of the International Finance Corporation in the Global Land Grab and Voices from Africa: African Farmers and Environmentalists Speak out Against a New Green Revolution.
Joel Salatin is a third generation farmer whose family owns and operates Polyface Farm, a grass-based, highly diversified farm in Swoope, Virginia. A prolific author, Salatin’s nine books to date include very popular practical farming guides such as Salad Bar Beef and YOU CAN FARM: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Start and Succeed in a Farming Enterprise. Having worked with farm interns for over 20 years, Salatin’s most recent book Field of Farmers: Interning, Mentoring, Partnering, Germinating discusses the relationship between farmer mentors and their interns, and the opportunity this relationship presents for providing land access and “stackable enterprises” for these new farmers.
Elizabeth Henderson has been one of the farmers for Peacework Organic CSA, the first CSA in western NY, and co-founder of the Agricultural Justice Project. Ms. Henderson has long been an advocate for fair treatment and livable wages for farmers and all agricultural workers in the US. The Agricultural Justice Project takes a market-based approach with a “Food Justice Certified” label that would ensure fair treatment of workers, fair pricing for farmers, and fair business practices for farms, processors and retailers. Ms. Henderson is a spokesperson for the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) on organic farming policy and social justice, and is the author of Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen’s Guide to Community Supported Agriculture (Chelsea Green, 2007)
Gary Nabhan is a writer, researcher, orchard keeper, food justice activist, folklorist and grassroots conservationist based in the American Southwest. He is the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Arizona, and a MacArthur Fellow. His books include Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land: Lessons from Desert Farmers on Adapting to Climate Uncertainty and for the coming co-edited Stitching the West Back Together on collaborative conservation of food-producing landscapes. Dr. Nabhan’s diverse areas of work range from the on-ground food web restoration for pollinators to community-based financing for farms and food businesses.
Sjoerd Wartena is a French farmer and founder and former president of Terre de Liens, a revolutionary French organization that removes land from the commodity market and enables organic and peasant farmers to work the land under equitable, secure tenure. Terre de Liens has two mechanisms for acquiring land; la Fonciere, a solidarity investment company, and le Fonds, which can collect donations of cash or land. The organization is national in scope, with regional branches coordinating closely with local project holders, landowners and government. The organization has preserved 71 farms to date, comprising nearly 5000 acres.
Wes Jackson was born on a farm in Kansas, and went on to become a plant geneticist and influential advocate for more resilient farming systems. Jackson left academia in 1976 to found The Land Institute, an organization in Salina, KS that for over 30 years has conducted pioneering research into the potential of perennial grains and polycultures to enable truly sustainable agricultural systems. Mr. Jackson is a prolific author, including Becoming Native to This Place (1994), New Roots for Agriculture (1980), Nature as Measure: The Selected Essays of Wes Jackson (2011), and Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture (2011). Mr. Jackson was a 1990 Pew Conservation Scholar, a 1992 MacArthur Fellow, and in 2000 received the Right Livelihood Award (called the “alternative Nobel prize”).
Eric Holt Giménez is an agroecologist, political economist, lecturer and author. From 1975-2002 he worked in Mexico, Central America, and South Africa in sustainable agricultural development, and is now the Executive Director of Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy. He is editor of Food Movements Unite! Strategies to transform our food systems, and author of the 2009 Food First Book Food Rebellions! Crisis and the Hunger for Justice.
Kathy Ruhf is a nationally recognized leader in farm entry, succession and tenure. She has co-authored guidebooks, managed projects, led workshops and worked closely with farm families on these topics. She is the Executive Director of Land for Good in New England, and served as co-director of the New England Small Farm Institute for 17 years. She was also a member of the USDA Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers for six years, and chair for two. Kathy coordinated a regional network, the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) from its founding in 1992 until late 2012.
Gayle McLaughlin is Mayor of Richmond, CA and a Green Party member. Since taking office in 2006, McLaughlin has been fighting injustices by big banks and oil companies based in Richmond. McLaughlin is also working to prevent gentrification in her city, encouraging growth of co-housing and worker cooperatives, among other planning and development policies to encourage sustainable and equitable urban growth rather than pushing out of working families and the creative class.
Reggie Knox has been working with California farmers for 26 years. Currently the Executive Director of California FarmLink, Knox has developed expertise in farm leases, land transactions, financing and business development. As Program Manager at the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Knox ran the Lighthouse Farm Network, implementing hundreds of workshops for family farmers addressing farmland protection, resource conservation and economic options for small farmers. He has long-standing relationships with Central Coast farm and conservation groups including the Farm Bureau and commodity boards, and more than 10 years of experience as an organic farm inspector in the Central Coast and Central Valley.
Doria is 3rd generation resident of Richmond, California and the Executive Director of Urban Tilth, a community based organization dedicated to cultivating urban agriculture to help Richmond build a more sustainable, healthy, and just food system. Urban Tilth hires and trains residents to work with schools, community-based organizations, government agencies, businesses, and individuals to develop the capacity to produce 5% of our own food supply. Doria is a Certified Permaculture Designer, Bay Friendly Gardener, Nutrition Educator and Yoga Instructor and the founder of Sanctuary Yoga, Richmond’s 1st yoga and meditation center. She was recognized as Environmental Advocate of the Year for Contra Costa County and as Woman of the Year for Contra Costa County in 2010. In 2011 Bay Localize presented her with a Community Resiliency Leadership Award. Doria currently lives in the neighborhood where she grew up in Richmond with her wonderful10 year old twins.
Severine von Tscharner Fleming, moderator
Severine von Tscharner Fleming is a farmer, activist, and organizer based in the Champlain Valley of New York. She is the director of Greenhorns, a documentary film and grassroots organization working to ”recruit, promote and support” the growing tribe of new agrarians. Greenhorns Radio is a weekly radio show on Heritage Radio Network, a popular blog, young farmer publications, podcasts and many dozens of mixers, Seed Circus and educational events for young farmers, aspiring farmers and families all around the country. Severine is also a co-founder of Agrarian Trust, a new project of the Schumacher Center for New Economics dedicated to improving land access for next-generation farmers.
Dave Henson, moderator
Dave Henson has long experience in land-based work as a founding member and executive director of Occidental Arts and Ecology Center in Sonoma, California. With a background in environmental studies, sociology and law, Mr. Henson has worked for over 30 years with many environmental, agricultural and social justice organizations, and has lectured and led training programs around the U.S. and in over 20 countries. He is also a co-founder and steering committee member of the Wild Farm Alliance, California Climate and Agriculture Network, and Californians for a GE-Free Agriculture.