In many of my roles as a food, agriculture, and natural resources practitioner, student, and researcher, I noticed my uniqueness in these spaces I was aiming to belong: nonprofits, higher education research offices, federal offices, agricultural advocacy groups, food policy councils, and others. I was often the only woman of color, the only immigrant, and the youngest person in the room. A lack of diversity in these fields was very apparent. This motivated me to work towards making traditionally underrepresented individuals in these fields more visible, starting with me.
We in the sustainable agriculture movement must hold up and continue to honor the wisdom of our farmer-elders as we navigate the very real threats to land, climate, and people over the coming generations
Agrarian Trust is creating a local Agrarian Commons (through establishing 501c2 land-holding entities) in regions across the United States. These Agrarian Commons will hold land to support: land access and tenure for the next generation of farmers, community equity and self-determination, shared stewardship of soils and ecological diversity, and opportunities for deep relationships to the land, each other, and community.
The cause of reparations is having a moment of resurgence in the United States. Author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates reinvigorated the idea in a sweeping and influential essay, “The Case for Reparations,” published in The Atlantic in 2014. In 2016, after more than a decade of rigorous investigation, the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent determined that “past injustices and crimes against African Americans need to be addressed with reparatory justice.” In the United States, the term reparations is most associated with the idea of compensation for slavery, but the idea has also been explored by Coates and others as an integral part of redressing racial discrimination and injustice in our own times.
Imagine arriving in a new country as a refugee after spending years in a refugee camp in another country as an asylum seeker and then being given three months to achieve “self-sufficiency” in your new host country. Your hands and mind are restless for work. Maybe you were a farm hand, a farm owner, a food entrepreneur, or something else in your home country. Now that you are given a fresh start in a new country, what opportunities do you seek? Is agriculture even an option? For many, it is and it’s the only one that makes sense.
Starting seeds in early Spring has become a rhythm for me. Just as the snow begins to recede from the hilltops and the ice begins to travel down the river, I can be found in a greenhouse with dirt under my nails, working tired muscles that have become accustomed to hibernation. I hold these tiny natural jewels in my hands, and I am overwhelmed by the potential.
As I set foot in the lands that belong to my grandmother that she is currently renting out, I don’t recognize that land anymore. The tenant is growing yuca, or cassava. We never grew that while the land was under our management. Growing up, we would visit my grandma’s conuco in the countryside, the farm field or plantation with plantain trees, and some fruit trees and plants like grapefruit and sugar cane. I would run around picking up flowers and cherry tomatoes growing unchecked in the field. It’s thirty tareas in the Dominican land measuring system, or almost two hectares in Hato Viejo, Cayetano Germosen, Espaillat, Dominican Republic.
“Agrarian Trust, a nonprofit committed to supporting land access for the next generation of farmers, is experimenting with community-controlled land commons to collectively and democratically own the land, while giving 99-year leases to regenerative farmers. This model prioritizes broader community involvement and investment in local farms, while giving farmers long-term land security and equity interests so that they can fully commit to restoring the land over many decades.”
Our founding board member Severine von Tscharner Fleming inspires us to consider the question, “What does the land want?” in her latest talk as a Fellow with the Edmund Hillary Fellowship based in New Zealand.
To get our full newsletter, including exclusives for subscribers, visit: agrariantrust.org/subscribe Spring 2019 Newsletter Highlights First and foremost, please join us in welcoming Josie Walker to our team! Josie is now our Eastern North Carolina Project Coordinator for FaithLands, a