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. For the National Farm to School Network, it’s also a time to recommit ourselves to being honest about the racism and inequities that persist within our field of work, and to reaffirm our commitment to working towards a vision of equity and justice. Listening, learning and reflecting on the histories, stories and wisdom of Black leaders in the food movement is one step in this journey, and we invite you to join us. Here are a few recommendations to get you started:
EXPLORE: Black History Month Food and Farm Justice resource lists - HEAL Alliance
READ: Black Farmers Are Embracing Climate-Resilient Farming, by Leah Penniman - Civil Eats
WATCH: Malik Yankini on Food, Race and Justice - TEDxMuskegon
LISTEN: Karen Washington on Food Justice, Land Stewardship and Legacy Work - WhyHunger
MEET: The Black farm to school pioneers, leaders and kids in the picture above!
- Betti Wiggins, Officer of Nutrition Services at Houston Independent School District and former NFSN Advisory Board member.
- Students at Kimball Elementary School in Washington, D.C. growing hydroponic lettuce and tomatoes.
- LaDonna Redmond, founder and executive director of The Campaign for Food Justice Now.
- A young gardener picking peas at the former K Street Farm in Washington, D.C.
- Students enjoying a taste test at John Adams Elementary School in Riverside, Calif.
- Glyen Holmes, founder of the New North Florida Cooperative, and a farm to school movement trailblazer. He's been helping small farmers in Florida sell to schools since the 1990s!
- A little gardener learning about plants in Tennessee.
- Rodney Taylor, director of Food and Nutrition Services for Fairfax County Public Schools, pioneer of "farm to school salad bars" in the 1990s, and former NFSN Advisory Board member.
- Haile Thomas, founder/CEO of the nonprofit HAPPY (Healthy Active Positive Purposeful Youth).
- School Nutrition professionals at the Madison Metropolitan School District Food Production Center.
- Matthew Raiford, chef/farmer and owner of The Farmer & The Larder and Gilliard Farm.
- Students from Chicago on a field trip to Windy City Harvest Youth Farm.
These are just a few of the many Black trailblazers, innovators and movement makers who are helping power farm to school efforts nationwide. There are many more - including on our staff, Advisory Board, in our network of Core and Supporting Partners, and others - who we also celebrate this month.
While there are just a few days left of Black History Month 2020, 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 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.) In March and April, our staff will be participating in Food Solutions New England's 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge - sign up to join us. And, we encourage you join us in continuing to honor the Black leaders who have given, and continue to give, boundless wisdom, vision, creativity and commitment to the farm to school movement.