farming

The Kids Are Alright: Burmese teens present on the importance of keeping traditions alive

Talar Hso (left) discusses the oral history project that the teens are conducting in conjunction with a folklorist at UNC. Not only are they learning more about their own culture, food, and history, but they’re also gaining skills in interviewing, documentary filmmaking, and public speaking.

Talar Hso (left) discusses the oral history project that the teens are conducting in conjunction with a folklorist at UNC. Not only are they learning more about their own culture, food, and history, but they’re also gaining skills in interviewing, documentary filmmaking, and public speaking.

“What does food justice mean to you?”

The Transplanting Traditions Youth Collaborative posed that question to a packed house at the Chapel Hill Public Library in late June. It was the perfect opener for the second installment of Farmer Foodshare’s “Learn with Us Speaker Series: Understand the Legacy of Race in Farming,” a lively discussion and presentation run entirely by the group’s teen members. It was broadcast on Facebook Live, but if you missed it, you can watch the whole thing now (and you should)!

WATCH NOW!

Transplanting Traditions’ mission is provide refugee adults and youth access to land, healthy food and agricultural and entrepreneurial opportunities, and Farmer Foodshare partners with them through our Community Foodshare program. The Transplanting Traditions Youth Collaborative has been built from the ground up by the youth involved, and through Community Foodshare and additional opportunities for community engagement, they’re able to translate family recipes, prepare foods for sampling, and actively promote broader access to the traditional Asian vegetables grown in our local community.

Watch the teens’ inspiring presentation HERE! 

Sofia Thein (right) explains the significance of the farm as a space for community-building and describes the mental health benefits the refugees experience from being able to grow familiar types of food in their new home.

Sofia Thein (right) explains the significance of the farm as a space for community-building and describes the mental health benefits the refugees experience from being able to grow familiar types of food in their new home.

What does food justice mean to you?

What does food justice mean to you?

Farmer Foodshare’s Whitney Sewell introduces Farmer Foodshare’s role in supporting the work of farmers and organizations like Transplanting Traditions.

Farmer Foodshare’s Whitney Sewell introduces Farmer Foodshare’s role in supporting the work of farmers and organizations like Transplanting Traditions.

Understand the the Legacy of Race and Farming: Speaker Series featuring Phillip Daye, North Carolina Director of FoodCorps

Join us for the 3rd event of the series of presentations from Local Food Leaders + Volunteer Training. Featuring Phillip Daye, North Carolina Director of FoodCorps and Steward of century-old LM&D Farm in Rougemont, NC. 

Our shared vision for this workshop is to ENGAGE in not just learning but taking an action to support our local food system by volunteering with Farmer Foodshare programs and partners, FoodCorps, throughout the region. To support this effort, directly after the talk, we will offer a volunteer training session to prepare YOU to get plugged into YOUR community food system in a meaningful way!


FREE EVENT! Generously sponsored by Courtney S. Brown of Hunter Rowe Real Estate Agents & Advisors Durham.

RSVP HERE

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The Role of Women in Agriculture

by Alicia Lee, Bonner Intern

Transplanting Traditions ’ Zar Ree Wei: incredible farmer and mother of 6!

Transplanting Traditions’ Zar Ree Wei: incredible farmer and mother of 6!

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and that has us thinking about ways to honor and acknowledge the contributions of mothers and women worldwide. You can (and should!) celebrate Mother’s Day by calling or sending a card or flowers your own mom or other women who have had an influence on your life for all their support. This year, though, we invite you to celebrate Mother’s Day by learning about the crucial role that mothers and women play in agriculture and farming, and how that impacts society throughout the world.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that women represent 43% of the agricultural labor force worldwide. The same study shows that the majority of those women are relegated to the lowest paid, least secure positions, the ones with the worst labor conditions.

Why is this?

Why are women internationally dismissed to inferior labor positions in farming?

Obviously, there is more than one answer, but here is one shocking fact: in roughly 90 countries, women are outright prohibited from owning land. This prevents large swaths of women from being able to support their families by operating their own farms.  Even in places where owning land is “legal,” women are often denied loans that could help them buy it or invest in better, more efficient farming technology that would increase crops and allow them to turn a profit from farming.  

What if this weren’t the case?

The World Economic Forum found that female farmers reinvest 90% of the money they earn back into their farms and their communities, leading to greater levels of food security and increased opportunities for generations to come. The Forum also found that countries where women enjoyed greater property rights had lower levels of domestic abuse because greater financial independence allows women to leave abusive relationships. Women in agriculture - specifically women who possess their own farms - are the gatekeepers to a better future for many communities worldwide.

A better future in terms of improved nutrition, increased educational achievement, and a reduction in domestic violence can all start through supporting female farmers. You can participate in this crucial global change by checking out the Closing the Crop Gap website which provides more information of global agricultural gender disparities and various ways to get involved today.

Want to do something?

Yes, the research mentioned here is focused internationally, but you can address this issue in your very own community. This can be as simple as getting out to your local farmers market and buying from the female farmers in your own hometown. Or you can purchase a CSA through Farmer Foodshare’s partner Transplanting Traditions, which directly supports female refugee farmers by buying their produce and then donating some of it back into the refugee community. Learn more about that program here.

You also can find more in depth information on the status of women in agriculture in the following sources:

Understanding and Addressing a History of Racial Discrimination in Agriculture

Mr. Kamal Bell, teacher and farmer, working with students at Sankofa Farms in Durham, NC. Mr. Bell recently presented at Farmer Foodshare on understanding the legacy of Race in Farming and brought the statistics and sentiments below to our community's attention. "In order to move forward, we must remember our past..."

Mr. Kamal Bell, teacher and farmer, working with students at Sankofa Farms in Durham, NC. Mr. Bell recently presented at Farmer Foodshare on understanding the legacy of Race in Farming and brought the statistics and sentiments below to our community's attention. "In order to move forward, we must remember our past..."

By Alicia Lee, Farmer Foodshare Bonner Leader Intern from UNC

In 1920, African Americans owned 1 out of every 7 farms. By the end of the century, this number had dropped to only 1 out of 100 farms. Here’s another set of shocking stats:  in 2012, 2% of all farmers in this country were African American. In 1924, that number was 14%. Currently, African American farmers represent only 0.4% of overall agricultural sales. What’s going on? Why are African American farmers disappearing?

One reason for the drastic number drop is that African American farmers were systematically denied or delayed getting loans from the United States’ Department of Agriculture (USDA), which would have helped them start, grow, or even just hold on to their farms. In 1997, North Carolina native Tim Pigford and 400 other African American farmers formed a class action lawsuit against the USDA. They won, which resulted in the largest payout in U.S. history, nearly $2.3 billion. This not even close to rectifying the centuries of racial discrimination in agriculture--not only are many participants are still waiting on their payouts,  but so many farms have already been lost permanently.

At Farmer Foodshare’s core is an understanding that our current food system is broken. Several of our programs, such as the Donation Stations and Food Ambassadors, focus on the disconnect between people who grow food and those who need food. But the people who grow food in America are also struggling in general, as large farms continue to grow and force smaller farmers out of the market. This reality of being pushed out was experienced doubly so by African American farmers as they had to contend with competition from mega-farms and racism in the USDA itself as previously discussed.

In honor of Black History Month, Farmer Foodshare wanted to highlight the issue of racism in agriculture, and open the discussion on how to make improvements. We strive to intentionally support farmers of color to help connect them with more buyers, especially through our wholesale market. By broadening farmers’ consumer base, we hope to be able to support African American farmers and keep them in the market.

Want to help? We have a few ways for you to get involved too!

If you would like to read more about this history of racial discrimination in farming, check out these articles on the history of racism in the USDA and what happened to African American farmers. If you believe in fresh food for all and in supporting the local farmers who grow that food, click here to take our online volunteer orientation to learn more and get started volunteering.

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