By Jillian Muñoz, Communications Intern
February is Black History Month, a dedicated time to pay attention to the power and resilience of the Black community and to celebrate the many Black leaders on whose shoulders we stand. At National Farm to School Network, we envision a food system centered on justice, which we know we cannot achieve without racial justice. We recognize that racism, including anti-Black racism, persists in the farm to school movement. At NFSN, we have a responsibility and a commitment to correct this and to be an anti-racist organization.
This month, we urge you to join us in learning about Black history and celebrating Black leaders, practitioners, and community members who drive forward the farm to school movement. Check out the following resources to learn more:
Articles to Read
- Farming While Black in America (Anti-Racism Daily) Black ranchers in Colorado have been the target of racial harassment after purchasing land in a predominately white region. As legislation to protect Black farmers remains stalled in the courts, it's especially disheartening to hear how discrimination further alienates them from the land they deserve. Read the full article to learn how you can support their story.
- Black-led Food Co-ops Restore Justice, Hope, and Power (FoodTank) The United States has seen the opening of more than 167 food cooperatives since 2006, according to the Food Co-op Initiative (FCI). Within this movement, Black-led co-ops are tackling food access and racial justice, which can help to fulfill a community’s needs while addressing systemic inequalities to restore power to the people.
- There Were Nearly a Million Black Farmers in 1920. Why Have They Disappeared? (Guardian). Today there are just 45,000 African American farmers. Learn more about how one man is fighting to save them.
- Black US Farmers Dismayed as White Farmers’ Lawsuit Halts Relief Payments (Guardian) Funds were intended to address discriminatory policies – but ‘promises to Black farmers are always put on hold.'
- These Chicago Urban Farmers are Growing Local Food in the Wake of Steel Industry Pollution (Civil Eats) Surrounded by the pollution resulting from decades of steel production, a community garden is providing relief to Chicagoland communities.
Media to Watch and Listen To
- High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America. In this 4-episode docuseries, Chef and writer Stephen Satterfield traces the delicious, moving throughlines from Africa to Texas. It examines the influence of racial disparity, classism, and labor relations on African American food culture and gives viewers a deeper understanding of “America's deep-rooted history of slavery, and the impact on American food as we know it today.” Watch this series on Netflix.
- Leah Penniman Keynote at Moses Organic Farming Conference 2020. Leah Pennimman, author of “Farming While Black” and co-founder of Soul Fire Farm, gave an information-packed keynote speech at the 2020 Moses (renamed Marbleseed) Organic Farming Conference. Her talk covers the history of Black agriculture in the US and the importance of community and leadership in the fight for racial equity in labor, land ownership, agriculture, and society in general. Watch the entire keynote here.
- Just Food Podcast - Episode 2 - Black Slow Food: A Local Food Story. In the second episode of Victoria Ginzburg’s Just Food Podcast, she invites Chef Isaiah Martinez to talk about his experience being an Afro-Caribbean man embracing slow food values while cooking up multicultural meals in the Pacific Northwest. He talks about not only his background, but also his business practices in his effort to be more sustainable and mindful. Listen to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or SoundCloud.
- A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA - TEDTalk. Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where "the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys." Watch the TEDTalk here.
- The Next Big Thing is Coming from the Bronx, Again - TEDTalk "The hood is good," says Jon Gray of the Bronx, New York-based creative collective Ghetto Gastro. Working at the intersection of food, design and art, Gray and his team honor the soul and history of their community while applying their unbridled creativity and expansive imagination to unexpected, otherworldly collaborations. Learn more about how they're creating and investing in their home borough — bringing the Bronx to the world and vice versa. Watch the TEDTalk here.
Books to Dive Into
We recommend purchasing books from Black-owned bookstores, such as the Reparations Book Club in Los Angeles—purchase from them online here or find a local Black-owned bookstore by state here.
- Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown. Inspired by Octavia Butler's explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live.
- Black Food Matters: Racial Justice in the Wake of Food Justice by Editors Ashanté M. Reese and Hanna Garth. For Black Americans, the food system is broken. When it comes to nutrition, Black consumers experience an unjust and inequitable distribution of resources. Black Food Matters examines these issues through in-depth essays that analyze how Blackness is contested through food, differing ideas of what makes our sustenance "healthy," and Black individuals' own beliefs about what their cuisine should be.
- A Black Women's History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry & Kali Nicole Gross. A vibrant and empowering history that emphasizes the perspectives and stories of African American women to show how they are—and have always been—instrumental in shaping our country.
- Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness byDa’Shaun L. Harrison. Da’Shaun Harrison–a fat, Black, disabled, and nonbinary trans writer–offers an incisive, fresh, and precise exploration of anti-fatness as anti-Blackness.
While there are just a few days left of Black History Month 2023, our commitment to listening to and lifting up Black voices and leadership in farm to school doesn't stop at the end of February. Every day is the right day for learning more, being honest about and addressing the racism and inequities in our work. You can read more about National Farm to School Network's commitment to centering our work in equity here, and read more about our Call to Action here.