Celebrating Our Black Farmers for Black History Month
WFU Divinity School presents Half the Earth, Half the Sky: A Conference on Women, Food & Faith
Excited to be presenting portraits and stories from The Color of Food at this women’s food conference on March 19 at Wake Forest University in NC! Honored to be speaking alongside women such as my mentor Cynthia Hayes of Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network!
Oral History of a Black Agrarian New Orleans, from The Color of Food
Jenga Mwendo in the Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans:
Gardening and growing your own food was just a part of the life in the Lower Nine. People would forage in the bayou for wild onions and pepper grass or take their dogs out to hunt or catch crawfish when the rivers would flood. People in this neighborhood have always been more connected with the land, hunting and fishing in the river, because the Lower Ninth Ward was kind of rural and cut off from the rest of the city when they dug the Industrial Canal in the 1920s. This area used to be one of the few places during segregation where black people could come and buy property and build communities, it was like a safe little bubble for black people to grow and prosper.
Despite that connection to the land, folks never really think about themselves as gardeners or part of urban agriculture - nobody uses those terms, it’s just what they do. It’s a cultural tradition and this work is about encouraging and supporting that.
-Jenga Mwendo, Backyard Gardeners Network
Oral History pulled from The Color of Food book currently in production!
© Artwork “Bayou Fishing” by Knute Heldner
Eugene Cooke in Atlanta, Gebsite featured on HGTV Gardens!
"Some people like to talk about being a farmer, but the way things are shifting, we have to do so much more to make people want to deal with the land."
How does Cooke describe what he does? “I create food abundance systems,” he says, “which means grow food wherever you are, and in a way that’s abundant.”
Pang Chang, PEC Tropical Farm, Fresno CA
Pang, a Hmong farmer who fled from Laos in the ’70s when the Hmong came under attack throughout Laos and Vietnam, found refuge in California and started doing what had been passed down to him from generation to generation: farming.
He now grows rare tropical fruits like papaya, guava and jujubes (Chinese dates) right in the heart of the dry central valley of California and sells them to Asian markets throughout the state.
Working on reorganizing stories/chapters for The Color of Food book!
#SharingtheProcess #DocumentingtheDocumenting #GotMyOwnGoogleGlass :)
The Color of Food Prints!
When not exhibiting The Color of Food portraits they happily live on the walls of my office :) I particularly like my power wall of women for inspiration!
Check out some available prints in my shop
So proud of this sister, mother and friend for all her work with The BLK Projek and their upcoming Mobile Market, Food Buying Club and Urban Farm in the South Bronx. If you haven’t heard of Tanya Fields, check a sistah out.
Happy New Year! What are your hopes and dreams for this year? What are your goals for your work, garden/farm, health or peace of mind? What lessons did 2013 bring you?
2013 for me was definitely a year of growth, even if not so much from the soil. Not only did I grow personally and in my relationships, but I grew stronger in my work, passions and health.
I grew to become more knowledgeable about practicing natural/herbal healing (my bathroom is beginning to resemble a tincture lab). I grew into a stronger cook and deepened my knowledge in health and nutrition (for fun I like to make nut milks and butters and homemade protein bars). And I finally fell in love with exercising and kept a consistent work-out routine for longer than I ever have (people know my name at the gym now, that’s never happened).
I challenged myself in my work, embarking on things I’d never done before, riding the steep learning curve and accomplishing more than I thought I could.
I found myself at gatherings surrounded by inspiring mentors and felt honored to be there, presenting my work at places like Purdue and Tuskegee. I also grew into a stronger woman after being in empowering circles of women, like when at the Women of Color Retreat.
I completed all of my interviews for The Color of Food and at the end of last year I sent the book proposal to many publishers and received a lot of amazing responses!!
So 2014 is looking bright for The Color of Food getting published! I’ll also be getting married this year! My other goals are to continue my love affair with food, earth and health. Specifically deepening my knowledge and practice of preserving foods (I got a dehydrator for Christmas!), continuing to learn in the garden(I manually pollenated all my squash for the first time!) and continuing my practice of natural healing (I <3 tamanu and oregano oil).
Basically, I’m thinking 2014 will be my year to glow from the inside out. I hope the same for you :)
A Southern Legacy
With orange and red leaves crunching underfoot and crisp, cold air on my cheek, I walked alongside the George Washington Carver Museum and towards the Booker T. Washington monument where voices sang out from the chapel next door. I had arrived on Tuskegee’s historic campus in the deep south of Alabama…Read More
The Color of Food Exhibit at Tuskegee University
I am honored beyond words to announce that The Color of Food has been invited to exhibit portraits of farmers of color, and particularly women and young farmers, at Tuskegee’s 71st Annual Professional Agricultural Workers Conference!
To celebrate and highlight Black, Latino, Native and Asian farmers in this country at one of our oldest farmers’ conferences, started by Booker T. Washington in 1894, at one of the most influential universities for Black and marginalized farmers, is an incredible moment for The Color of Food and one that speaks directly to the heart of the project.
I am so excited!! If you are attending PAWC next week December 8-10, come find me and the exhibit!
Grow Where You Are
While the growing season for many is ending in parts of the country, down here in South Florida we are just getting started! The heat has begun to give us and our plants relief and, though the rain is still coming late into the rainy season, the soil seems happier.
I moved down here late into the season at the beginning of this year so I didn’t have time to get much growing. But this year my fiancé and I built a little garden box on our back patio (4x2 bed). That’s sadly about all the soil I have access to this year while working on The Color of Food book, but as my friend Eugene would say, you gotta “Grow Where You Are.”
Because of the Florida heat and the fact that the cement patio absorbs a lot of that heat, we wanted to be sure the garden box had some room to breathe and keep cool. So we…. Read More
Kitchen Kwento: Meet Aileen Suzara, a Filipina/American chef, grower and writer
Aileen is a natural chef who connects with the traditional foods of her ancestors through her cooking and writes about stories that connect us to the earth, people and places we call home. She is a graduate of the UC Santa Cruz CASFS Farm Apprentice program and is now involved in activism and education in northern CA!
I wanted to highlight Aileen’s blog this week because she has written an important piece on the destruction and loss in the Philippines in the aftermath of the typhoon. Please Read: In The Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan
Kozuki Family Farms, Fresno CA. A 3rd Generation Japanese American Fruit Farm
Gary and Kaye Kozuki have had their orchard in their family for 100 years. Both Gary and Kaye’s grandparents left Japan at the start of the 1900s and worked in Hawai’i and then California as laborers. Gary’s grandfather acquired land near Fresno and managed to hold onto it even through WWII when both Gary and Kaye’s families were sent to the Japanese American Internment Camps. Kaye was born while her family was incarcerated in the camp. Today the Kozukis live on the land and grow many stone fruit varieties on over 750 acres.
More of the Kozuki story will be in the Color of Food book!
Blain Snipstal, Five Seeds Farm, La Via Campesina
Another brother to blow your mind. Listen as Blain, a 24 year old black peasant farmer, deconstructs history and connects to food sovereignty.
Eugene Cooke from Gebsite: Video on the Power of Water
This brother never ceases to blow my mind, ever since the day I met him. Eugene is a grower, a speaker and educator who travels the world to help create ‘local food systems of abundance.’ Check out a part of his speech honoring and recognizing the power of water.
The Color of Food Map: Mapping People of Color Revolutionizing the Food System in their Communities!
I wanted to make it clear that this map is just the tip of the iceberg.It does not even come close to representing all the farmers, food activists and organizations led by people of color out there doing amazing work. I wish it did, and it will one day. For now I still have a lot of updating to do to it since getting off the road from interviewing and photographing all these amazing folks all over the country for The Color of Food book! But you can help:
If there are farmers, gardeners and food activists or organizations led by communities of color you know are missing from this map ADD THEM! Add your organization or farm, add people you know or have them add themselves.*
JUST CLICK THE ADD BUTTON IN TOP RIGHT CORNER OF THE MAP!
*NOTE: The Color of Food is about highlighting projects led by communities of color, not just serving them.
Cynthia Hayes, Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network
I’ve had the honor not only to work with Cynthia Hayes and adopt her as my Mama C and amazing mentor, but I’ve also been blessed enough to meet, interview and photograph many of the Black farmers she works to support with SAAFON.
Fierce FisherWoman: Meet Kris Sampson of the Warm Springs Tribe in central Oregon.
Kris, her husband and their children fish for salmon on the Columbia River and Klickitat River and sell their fish at market. “I taught all my kids to fish so they have been fishing since they were babies. Fishing is a part of our culture and it is a right for us, regardless of the commercial seasons we fish, it’s our treaty right.”
Alberto Astuhuman, 73. Peruvian-American farmer in Eugene, OR.
Listen to this StoryCorps video about the folks behind East New York Farms!
East New York Farms! still holds a special place in my heart and was one of the first urban farms I volunteered at. These amazing young people are revolutionizing the urban food system in Brooklyn and setting examples for real community building.
Check out more of their StoryCorps videos here!
photo © FarmHer: Images of Women in Ag
Check out this Civil Eats post on women in agriculture with FarmHer! Happy to see women of color represented!
Meet Sulina of Sulina & Bay’s family farm near Portland, OR. Sulina and her family, from Laos, have been growing berries, flowers and many fruits and vegetables in Oregon for over 20 years. They were also farmers in Laos before buying their farm here. “In Laos we were farmers, we had no income, everything we ate we grew,” recalls Sulina. Today her and her husband work outside of the farm in addition to farming because as Sulina states, “this is not a dependable income. Sometimes market customers buy, sometimes not.” Her and her husband work the swing shift and spend the rest of their time running the farm and selling at farmers markets, like Lloyd Market in SE Portland.
Many of us as consumers forget how much work goes into a family farm, we have to support our local small and family farms!
Look for more about Sulina & Bay’s farm in the Color of Food book!