by Rafael Aponte, Outreach Coordinator
With the summer almost upon us in the Finger Lakes, things are beginning to heat up, and the time for heavy lifting is here!
During times of hard work I am inspired by the community gardeners I saw as a child in the South Bronx. These gardeners fought to reclaim abandoned plots of land from negligent landlords to create community spaces that would provide healthy food. I watched as they broke through man-made brick and leadened soils to turn barren spaces into ones of resilience and abundance. They took up their shovels as a political act of creating just alternatives to the conditions they faced.
It is in this spirit that I became a farmer. And each season, I take up my own shovel to provide access to healthy, sustainably produced foods to underserved communities. I founded Rocky Acres Community Farm to support these principles and assist in creating new pathways to a fair food future.
All food is political, whether intended to be or not. The price of food, our access to it, and the hands that harvest it all carry a political implication. Unfortunately, not everyone’s best interests are reflected in what ultimately ends up on our plates. By fostering a space that allows for education and collaboration, we can confront the asymmetrical power structures that deny equity in our food system.
Here at Groundswell, we are pushing to support the many communities that are taking action to create a just structure where their voices are heard and their needs are met. From those returning home from war, families new to the U.S., or those historically denied access to land, Groundswell strives to provide support and education that acknowledges the struggles that both farmers and food citizens face.
If we only scratch the surface, our roots will never fully take hold. As we dig deeper past the barriers we face and through our dominant cultural paradigms, we can see much larger systems at play. It is this broader systems thinking that allows us to make the necessary structural changes to create a food system that sustains us all.
We must take the time to look at what holds us back. Critical analysis of these barriers is the first step in producing a proactive framework that addresses them. We must all ask ourselves, what is stopping my community from creating a just food system?
Grab your shovel, roll up your sleeves, and lets all dig deeper.