tea creek farm jacob jessica beaton family. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Food Growing and Farming

The Beaton family growing Indigenous Food Sovereignty: Tea Creek Farm

You’re probably here because you want to see a change in the future of food growing and farming. At the heart of that change is who grows our food, and even more so – who is able to access the resources to do so.  Like us, you’ve probably noticed that certain farmer demographics are more predominantly represented than others. The question then is – how do we break down these barriers so that EVERYONE can succeed?

We believe that it starts with education.  As an organization focused on new and young farmers, we want to centre equity-deserving farmers in the conversation. 

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT 

This resource list was produced by contributors living and working on unceded and traditional Indigenous lands and territories, including: Treaty 7 territory,  the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina, the Îyâxe Nakoda Nations, and the Métis Nation (Region 3); Musqueam; Squamish; Tsleil-Waututh; Kwalikum; Snaw-naw-as; K’ómoks; Quw’utsun; Ktunaxa; Syilx (Okanagan); Sinixt; Gitxsan; Treaty 6 territory, home of the Cree, Blackfoot, Métis, Nakota Sioux, Iroquois, Dene, Ojibway/Saulteaux/Anishinaabe and Inuit; and Treaty 2 territory, the traditional lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Assiniboine, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.

Young Agrarians recognizes the unresolved Indigenous land title and rights in the diverse territories in what is today called Canada. As we live and work in the context of and in response to a colonial system of laws and policies, it is important to acknowledge the historical and ongoing impact of agriculture and land enclosure on Indigenous lands and food systems. In this context, we acknowledge our collective responsibility to position Indigenous Peoples and their experiences with coloniality, in a narrative of reconciliation that places ecology, land stewardship, and Indigenous land title and rights at the forefront – if we are to sustain the Earth’s ecosystems in today’s rapidly changing climate. 

“First Nations peoples’ have a special relationship with the earth and all living things in it. This relationship is based on a profound spiritual connection to Mother Earth that guided Indigenous Peoples to practice reverence, humility and reciprocity. It is also based on the subsistence needs and values extending back thousands of years. Hunting, gathering, and fishing to secure food includes harvesting food for self, family, the elderly, widows, the community, and for ceremonial purposes. Everything is taken and used with the understanding that we take only what we need, and we must use great care and be aware of how we take and how much of it so that future generations will not be put in peril.” Source: afn.ca/honoring-earth

Saskatoon berriesThe western science-based research and resource management system treats land as a commodity rather than a relationship and sacred honouring. It is not possible to reconcile the commodification of land in a colonial system that fails to value the land as ancestral, spiritual and cultural home, and the basis of our relationships to the natural world. As an organization working with new and young farmers to increase access to knowledge, land, and infrastructure needed to grow food, it is important to identify this contradiction. Further, as we live in an inherently complex regulatory environment within an increasingly inflated capitalist system of land speculation, any solutions we create to ensure the present and future generations can access land call for complex systems thinking. There are no simple solutions to land access in the cultural, political and socio-economic context we live. Collectively, we need land to grow food and regenerate and protect ecosystems for a healthy future planet that can mitigate climate change. 

This resource page was created with the intention that farmers will be able to better understand the central nature of relationships to nurture future healthy food systems. In the context of Indigenous and settler groups working together, we believe that it is through relationships that cross-cultural spaces emerge and the giving back, reopening of lands for food provisioning and re-wilding of ecologies can be nurtured. It is our hope that there will be more pathways to reconciliation across these lands into the future. As an organization, we are working to cultivate capacity for working within cross-cultural frameworks to support farmers in our network to engage in decolonization and reconciliation processes through a relationship-based approach, at the landscape scale as they are defined by Indigenous and naturally occurring boundaries – towards the goal of a transition to a just land and food system.

Bison on the prairies

The Young Agrarians network emerged to support a new generation to care for and love the land. Many of the farmers in our network grow food and farm because of their environmental and social values; ecology is what is capturing people’s imagination and re-connecting them to the food system. The network works to facilitate knowledge sharing and community building to create the change we want to be. Our deepest hope is that the future of our food systems is diverse, interconnected, and resilient, embraces people of all walks of life and sustains the water, soil, and beings in ways that benefit and work alongside Indigenous Peoples and narratives and ways of knowing and caring for the land.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Food Growing and Farming

Farmers for Climate Solutions defines equity facing farmers as: “Young farmers, women farmers, farmers with disabilities, Black farmers, Indigenous farmers and food providers, farmers of colour, small-scale farmers, 2SLGBTQ+ farmers, and new Canadian farmers often experience additional and unique barriers to enter and succeed in our sector.” 

So what exactly is diversity, equity and inclusion? Here’s a diagram that we found helpful: 

Source: Inclusion by Design: Insights from Design Week Portland; Gensler

As current or aspiring food growers, farmers, and consumers, we can work to understand the systematic barriers that exist in food production and access to food as a way to grow equity, diversity and inclusion for the future of our food systems.

We’ve put together some resources. Feel free to browse at your own pace and share with us the things you’ve learned along the way. Education is an ongoing process, and we hope that you will join us in learning, unlearning, and relearning what we know about who has access to growing food.

Kyla P at Soul Fire Farm. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Food Growing and Farming

Kyla P., author of the post “Farming in Canada: Who else do you have to thank?,” at the BIPOC farming immersion at Soul Fire Farm. Photo by Quin Buck.

Here are some places to start:

READ:

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Food Growing and Farming

WATCH:

COURSES:

  • kinSHIFT (Online Workshops)
    • kinSHIFT is an Indigenous-led initiative supporting settlers who are committed to building respectful relationships with Indigenous peoples and places. Their experiential, arts-based workshops and programs allow participants to learn, practice, ask questions, and make mistakes in a safer environment, all while building a foundation for engaging meaningfully with Indigenous peoples.
  • Indigenous Canada (Online Course)
    • “Indigenous Canada is a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies that explores the different histories and contemporary perspectives of Indigenous peoples living in Canada.”
  • Indigenous Traditional Food Systems (Online Module)
    • Learn‌ ‌from‌ ‌Elders‌ ‌and‌ ‌Indigenous‌ ‌communities‌ across Alberta. In this free online module, you will find out the importance of returning to a Traditional Food System, how communities are returning to it, and what role you can play in supporting Traditional Food Systems.
  • 21 Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge from Food Solutions New England. It consists of daily email prompts and an online forum to explore and dismantle racism on all levels. The prompts take about 10-15 minutes a day to digest.

 

ROLE MODELS:

Below are a list of farms and  organizations who are working on building diversity, equity inclusion in relation to food-growing. Their programs offer examples in the community of taking the above learnings and putting them into action.

  • Black Creek Community Farm – Toronto, ON
    • “Black Creek Community Farm increases access to healthy food in their community through their programming and food distribution projects.”
  • Dehydration Nations – Winnepeg, MB – Treaty 1 Territory
    • “This project is a grassroots, indigenous-led initiative which hopes to empower individuals and communities to harness the traditional method of food dehydration and pair it with nation-to-nation trade as a way of promoting food sovereignty in Treaty 1 territory and beyond.”
    • They also have a Facebook Group which you can join here
  • Fourth Sister Farm, Groundbirch, BC
    • Ethical farming and wild harvesting on 160 acres of northern paradise. Their focus is to connect with other seed & land stewards, and encourage community members to strive for stronger food security without extraction. Run by Tiffany Traverse.
  • Indigenous Climate Action
    • “Indigenous Climate Action (ICA) is an Indigenous-led organization guided by a diverse group of Indigenous knowledge keepers, water protectors and land defenders from communities and regions across the country. We believe that Indigenous Peoples’ rights and knowledge systems are critical to developing solutions to the climate crisis and achieving climate justice.”
  • Indigenous Food Systems Network
    • The Indigenous Food Systems Network Website was developed by the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty to allow individuals and groups involved with Indigenous food related action, research, and policy reform to network and share relevant resources and information.
  • Kara-kata Afrobeat Society – Vancouver, BC
    • Kara-Kata Afrobeat Society, and Kara-Kata Afrobeat group, the musical arm, seek to harvest the powerful tool of music to promote peace, solidarity, education, and community between all people. They also have a new Africa Village Retreat Centre in Mission, BC where they will focus on getting back to nature, sustainable farming, and sharing Nigerian culture.
  • Legacy Growers Collective – Vancouver, BC
    • The Legacy Growers Collective is a network for Afro-Indigenous centered farming and gardening, outdoor education, and food security. The collective functions as a hub for African Diaspora Food Justice initiatives across metro Vancouver.
  • Migrant Right Network
    • The Migrant Rights Network is a cross-Canada alliance to combat racism and fight for migrant justice. We are a network of self-organized migrants including farmworkers, careworkers, international students, undocumented people as well as allies.
  • NFU
    • The National Farmers Union is Canada’s national farm organization committed to family farms. Promoting agroecology and food sovereignty for 50+ years, the NFU does not waver in our vision for farmers, eaters, and the earth, embedded in social and economic justice in Canada and internationally. They also include advisory committees for different equity deserving farmers:
    • BIPOC Advisory Committee
    • Women’s Advisory Committee
  • Not Our Farm
    • Not Our Farm is an organization that amplifies the voices of farm workers and works to support and celebrate career farmers working on farms that are not their own.
  • RAMA- Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture – BC
    • RAMA is a migrant justice collective that advocates for Latin American and Caribbean migrant farm workers in the unceded Syilx and Secwepemc territories of the Okanagan Valley. We work to build radically inclusive and more socially just communities by engaging in political advocacy, accompaniment, direct support work, public awareness campaigns, and the documentation of workers’ conditions and experiences. We are a volunteer-run, not-for-profit group.
  • Rock Steady Farm – Millerton, NY (USA)
    • “Rock Steady is a queer* owned and operated cooperative vegetable farm rooted in social justice, food access and farmer training.” They run a program called POLLINATE! which is “a paid training program for aspiring and beginner queer and trans* farmers interested in cooperative farm business models that center equitable food access”
  • Shade of Miti – Mississauga, ON
    • A food and climate justice organization for youth, newcomers, communities of colour, LGBTQ+, ally and accomplice communities in Mississauga. This organization is for communities that experience systemic oppression from our food and climate systems, allies and accomplices. We envision sustainable food systems in Mississauga that are rooted in sovereignty and justice and not threatened by climate change.
  • Sole Food Street Farms – Vancouver, BC
    • “Sole Food transforms vacant urban land into street farms that grow artisan quality fruits and vegetables. Our mission is to empower individuals with limited resources by providing jobs, agricultural training and inclusion in a supportive community of farmers and food lovers.”
  • Sorauren Farmers’ Market – Toronto, ON
    • This market runs a BIPOC New Farmer Initiative which provides a subsidized farmers’s market spot plus mentorship from BIPOC mentors. 
  • Soul Fire Farm – Grafton, NY (USA)
    • Soul Fire Farm is an Afro-Indigenous centered community farm committed to uprooting racism and seeding sovereignty in the food system. They bring diverse communities together to share skills on sustainable agriculture, natural building, spiritual activism, health, and environmental justice.
  • Sundance Harvest – Toronto, ON
    • “Cheyenne Sundance, the Farm Director, runs a free urban agriculture registered not-profit  program called Growing in the Margins, which nurtures and grows the farm projects of  BIPOC youth from seed to harvest.” They also run a program called Liberating Lawns, “a yard sharing project of Sundance Harvest seeking to match prospective BIPOC youth food growers with landholders so that their lawns can be liberated!”
  • Sunny Boy Farm – Toronto, ON
    • Sunny Boy Farm was founded by Soniel Gordon, to reclaim the community-based farming lifestyle and it’s benefits. We aim to address some of the growing socio-economic issues that plague our communities, by providing employment opportunities, offering skill and personal development training, educational and mental health workshops. Also offers a CSA sponsorship program for families in need.
  • Tea Creek – Kitwanga, BC
    • Tea Creek is an Indigenous-led, culturally-safe, land-based Indigenous food sovereignty and trades training initiative. They are bringing training and mentorship to 1000+ people per year, while giving away over 20,000 pounds of food to the community.
  • The Cabbage Patch- Puslinch, ON
    • The Cabbage Patch is run by Felix, a young fist generation farmer passionate about tacking food security sustainability.
  • Treaty Land Sharing Network – Saskatchewan – Treaty 4 Territory
    • “The Treaty Land Sharing Network connects farmers and other landholders with First Nations and Métis people needing safe access to land to practice their way of life. We are committed to honouring the Spirit and Intent of Treaties by sharing the land for mutual benefit.”
  • Queer Farmer Network – USA
    • “We are a dispersed network of current, lapsed, and aspiring farmers, gardeners, growers, herbalists, tenders of land, food revolutionaries, and more spread across the so-called USA. The QFN was formed in 2018 by a group of friends & comrades in the upper midwest to build community among queer farmers and to reflect on and interrupt racist, capitalist, and heteropatriarchal legacies in Agriculture.”

We hope to further diversity, equity, and inclusion in farming. This page will continually be updated with resources in the community that we find helpful. Keep checking back for updates and continue your learning journey with us. 

Want to share your learnings or have any suggestions? Email Michelle at michelle@youngagrarians.org