This project seeks to demonstrate the power of young farmers to confront and dismantle racism and inequity in food and farming systems when offered comprehensive anti-racism trainings and resources.
This project has three main objectives:
- To provide young farmers in the Northeast the opportunity to attend one full-day anti-racism training at no cost;
- To complete the Coalition’s Racial Equity Toolkit, a resource for young farmers nationwide who wish to begin the work of addressing racism and inequity in the food system;
- To connect Coalition chapters with Black and Brown-led organizations that are doing this important work in their regions; and to ensure that resources funding this work are going directly to these organizations.
The full-day anti-racism trainings will provide young farmers in the Northeast with a shared understanding of racism in food and farming, and opportunities for their chapter to support farmers of color in their regions. The Racial Equity Toolkit will be a resource for Coalition chapters to begin regular discussions on racial equity and develop action plans for their chapters. Young farmers not part of a Coalition chapter can also use the Toolkit in their farming communities.To complete the Coalition’s Racial Equity Toolkit, a resource for young farmers nationwide who wish to begin the work of addressing racism and inequity in the food system;To connect Coalition chapters with Black and Brown-led organizations that are doing this important work in their regions; and to ensure that resources funding this work are going directly to these organizations.
In April 2019, the USDA released the results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture, a count of our nation’s farms and ranches. The Census found that the number of Latinx and non-white primary producers did not increase between 2012 and 2017; ninety-five percent of U.S. primary producers surveyed identified as White; and the number of Black, Latinx, Asian American, and Native American primary producers all decreased between 2012 and 2017 (USDA 2019). The many challenges that young farmers face today are not experienced equally; centuries of marginalization and systemic racism prevent many young people of color from pursuing careers in agriculture.
The National Young Farmers Coalition (the Coalition) is a national organization that holds space for many different kinds of farmers: urban and rural, large and small-scale, with identities that cross or blur lines of race, class, and gender difference. As an organization we are committed to actively confronting racial inequity in the food system and invite our chapters to join us in this work. Racial justice is not simple inclusion of diversity, but rather for a shift in power and values informed and led by people who have been historically marginalized from land and power in the U.S. food system.
Young farmers of color in the Northeast experience racism on a daily basis. These young farmers are seeking the same opportunities as white farmers in our region- access to land, capital and resources to build successful farm businesses. However, when moving to rural communities, farmers of color are confronted with barriers built by systemic racism- everyday aggressions, exclusion from existing rural networks and a lack of resources that acknowledge their unique experiences and needs.
A just and healthy food system for all people won’t be possible if we don’t reckon with legacies of harm to people of color in the U.S.- forced migration, enslavement, and centuries of violent intimidation, disenfranchisement, and discrimination. Young farmers in the Northeast are uniquely positioned to create a different kind of rural farming community- one in which all young farmers have an equal chance to feel accepted and to succeed, regardless of race. By confronting racism and supporting young farmers of color, we are building more diverse and resilient farm communities.
Coalition chapters are ready to engage in the work of racial equity and racial justice. However, most Coalition chapters have limited access to funding for trainings and resources. The Coalition currently provides trainings to our chapters around advocacy, policy, leadership and a variety of business services. In recent years, our chapters have been requesting funding from the Coalition to add trainings and resources on racial equity work. Many of our chapters have specifically requested funds from the Coalition to partner with professional trainers such as Soul Fire Farm or Soil Generation to provide full-day anti-racism trainings to their chapter members. Coalition chapters have also requested the creation of a Racial Equity Toolkit to help them begin this important work in their farm communities. This project aims to meet these requests.
- Michelle Hughes, our original co-author of the Racial Equity Toolkit, needed to resign from the project officially in October 2019. She has refunded her consultant fee to us, and we will be using those funds for Tess Brown-Lavoie’s (other co-author) extra hours to finish the Toolkit.
- Soil Generation, the organization we are partnering with for the Pennsylvania training, was not able to schedule a training date in January or February 2020. We are currently planning the PA training for early April 2020.
Racial Equity Toolkit:
Caitlin Arnold initiated the project with Tess Brown-Lavoie and Michelle Hughes in August 2019. We spent August, September, and October corresponding about their work on the initial draft. In October, Michelle informed us that she needed to resign from the project. We made slight adjustments to our timeline based on this staffing change, and presented a working draft of the toolkit to a group of young farmers at our National Leadership Convergence in November 2019. After Convergence, the first draft was finalized and we shared it with Soul Fire Farm for review at the end of December.
In November 2019, we began coordinating with Soul Fire Farm, Soil Generation, and our Northeast chapter leaders to plan the three racial equity trainings. To date, we have scheduled two trainings, and a third will be scheduled in early April due to scheduling conflicts with Soil Generation. The timeline for attendee follow-up will be adjusted to allow for feedback from attendees of the April PA training
We have three anti-racism trainings in the planning stage and have not yet been executed. Each training has or will have an Eventbrite link for registration, and has or will be posted to each Northeast chapter’s membership list.
- January 29 with Soul Fire Farm in NY
- February 18 with Soul Fire Farm in CT
- Date TBD with Soil Generation in PA (early April)
We are in the draft review period of the Racial Equity Toolkit. Leah Penniman from Soul Fire is currently serving as our outside reviewer, and several of our staff are completing internal reviews. The review period will end January 31st.
Beginning in February we will be incorporating edits and suggestions, and beginning the design phase. This final draft and design period will end February 28th.
Beginning in March we will finalize the design and publish the Toolkit. We aim to have the Toolkit published by March 31, 2020.