*Farm to Plate Short Program Final, without Abstracts and Descriptions (pdf download)*
Friday Afternoon – Session One
Time: Friday 2:00 – 5:00pm
Farm Tours! Registration is required in advance. There are downtown walking tours and multiple options outside of Ithaca.
Paper Sessions One
Knowledge, Farming & Food Paper Politics and Action
Location: GreenStar Space
Time: 2:00 – 3:30pm
Paper Abstracts (click title to view summary):
Abstract: From charity to justice; from clients to advocates: An action research approach to organizational change with the Food Bank of the Southern Tier. How can a regional Food Bank move from a charity model for addressing food insecurity to a social justice model? This presentation uses principles of participatory action research to examine a process of organizational change in New York’s Southern Tier.Beginning with co-investigators who shared a vision of ending hunger and poverty, we built layered collaborations, finding and creating opportunities to deepen our institutions’ commitments to ending hunger and poverty. Our inquiry is embedded in a political-economic analysis of New York’s Southern Tier, a regional economy in crisis. While deepening our critique of charity approaches to distributing food, we investigate and define best practices in social justice food banking. We found that some of the best practices in social justice food banking include: involving “clients” as members, speakers, leaders, researchers and advocates; creating holistic, welcoming pantries rather than simply efficient pantries; building leadership to move pantry users from fear and shame to advocacy and collective politics; and defying party lines to build unity across lines that traditionally divide people.As the Food Bank of the Southern Tier gradually adopts some of these practices, we examine organizational change efforts, along with participants’ descriptions of their experiences in moving from clients to advocates. From individual experiences, we return to regional challenges, possibilities and limitations.
Abstract: Mainstream narratives that frame honey bee health problems as yet another indicator of environmental disaster are based on the premise that bees are wild animals that are vulnerable to human activities. To be sure, honey bees are impossible to fully domesticate or control, with bees from one single hive reliant on the forage from over ten thousand acres surrounding that hive. But they are also managed livestock and an integral part of industrialized agriculture. They thus embody both halves of the twin rises of defaunation (“ghosts”) and commodi-faunation (“things”) (Weis, 2015), straddling a conceptual and physical divide between endangered wild animals and the explosion of managed livestock on factory farms. The factors behind long-term declines in colony numbers are correspondingly mixed. Some derive from environmental problems: pests, diseases, pesticides, and poor nutrition because of lower-quality and less diverse forage. But other factors are economic and social, and colony number fluctuate based in part on the price of honey or the demand for wax, subsidies, almond pollination contracts. Indeed, that the stakes of honey bee health seem so high is linked to the shift from beekeeping as a cottage industry to their role in industrial agriculture. This makes conservation imperatives less clear-cut. While honey bees may benefit from these hybrid landscapes and new partnerships, they are themselves a hybrid creature that may not need “saving,” as such, at all.
In this paper, I analyze the politics of learning among beekeepers, using theory from the political ecology of education and situated learning literatures. I present an analysis of pilot data on a beekeeping club in New York State, as its members negotiate the fault lines between conventional beekeeping and more “natural” beekeeping. The data reveals their collective faith in the scientific method but cynicism about its enactment, mixed motivations for keeping bees, and allegiances to different authorities and allies. As beekeeping often accompanies other sorts of environmental awareness and activities, this case study is pertinent to broader environmental challenges, illustrating the processes of individual and collective learning through navigating environmental knowledge politics.
Abstract: The Seed to Kitchen Collaborative is a program in Wisconsin that aims to connect farmers, plant breeders, chefs and public citizens in developing vegetable varieties that have adaptation to local climates and organic systems and great flavor and quality. We are specifically trying to build capacity for independent plant breeders, farmer-plant breeders, small seed companies, participatory plant breeding projects and communities to create or steward varieties for the sustainable agricultural systems and healthy food systems we want to see in the future. We have collaborators across the country and are connecting several regional projects into a national network.
Organic systems and regional cuisines require decentralizing control of our seed and food systems, with communities reclaiming sovereignty over seed and food choices. Our network involves a diverse range of actors, from sub-acre urban farms to larger CSAs, and from farmer breeders to professional plant breeders at universities or seed companies. While focused on regional adaptation, we recognize that there are not enough people across the country working on developing varieties for organic systems and hope to leverage work going on in other regions similar to our own.
In Wisconsin we conduct variety trials on organic land at a university research station for ten crops prioritized by farmers, with varieties contributed by breeders (including farmers) across the country. We also have over 50 farms and gardens participating in on-farm trials of promising varieties. We work with local chefs to conduct flavor evaluations and also ask for farmer evaluations of flavor for the varieties trialed on their farms. Chefs have the ability to clearly articulate what they like or do not like about vegetable varieties, something that is key to the ability of breeders to improve quality in their varieties. The chefs involved in our project are clear that their priority is to keep the farmers they purchase from in business, and so they are interested in varieties that perform well on farms in the Upper Midwest, not just in the variety that tastes the best, regardless of how difficult it is to grow.
By helping plant breeders develop varieties with exceptional flavor and adaptation to regional food systems, we hope to increase the availability of local food and the ability of farmers to serve local food systems. We are developing important trialing infrastructure that can give farmers a stronger voice in what varieties are developed, and give independent farmer breeders and small seed companies a chance to have their varieties tested on many farms. This capacity is critically important to creating strong seed systems for organic and regional agriculture, as increasing consolidation in the seed industry leaves farmers with fewer choices. The project also helps bridge the gap between the food movement which often puts most value on heirloom varieties, and the farmers and plant breeders who are working to develop new varieties for current climates and organic farming system, in the same spirit of the heirlooms developed over 50 years ago.
Workshops Friday Afternoon
“Food Movements” Workshop
Location: GreenStar Space
Time: 3:30 – 5:00pm
Workshop Abstracts (click title to view summary):
In our movement, we talk a lot about food justice. Meanwhile, family-scale farmers struggle financially, structural violence keeps farm and other food system workers unorganized and poorly paid with people of color at the bottom, and many change groups lack internal policies that ensure full participation and respect for everyone who wishes to contribute. Let’s talk about what fairness means and how to make it a reality for our movement. For a farm, food enterprise or not-for-profit to be socially just and sustainable, the workplace needs a steady, well-trained labor force, a smoothly functioning conflict resolution process, and wages must at least be what is called “living” wages with decent benefits. Many participants in our food justice movement have the best intentions, but under the day-to-day pressures of farming, serving food or running a not-for-profit organization, do not take the time to learn all the relevant laws and regulations, and to document their well-intentioned practices. The purpose of this workshop is to provide the concrete information and documentation folks need to live up to the claim of social justice.
The workshop will start with a short brainstorm by participants to share with one another what they understand as fairness. I will give a short quiz about labor rights to see how familiar participants are with existing legalities. Then I will share some of what I have learned about fair labor policies from my experience in developing the standards for farms and food businesses for the Agricultural Justice Project, Heather Sandford of The Piggery will talk about why she decided to seek Food Justice Certification and together we will lead a discussion about how to implement fair standards.
Outcomes – participants will have a better understanding of what the claim of fairness means for an enterprise, what the law is and where it falls short, and where to access resources to improve the labor policies of the enterprise they work for or with.
Facilitator bios: Elizabeth Henderson produced organically grown vegetables for the fresh market for over 30 years. Peacework Organic CSA (in its 29th year in 2013) is the oldest CSA in upstate New York. She represents the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) on the Board of the Agricultural Justice Project, her writings on organic agriculture appear in The Natural Farmer and other publications, and she is the lead author of Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen’s Guide to Community Supported Agriculture (Chelsea Green, 2007).
Heather Sandford is one of the owners of The Piggery in Ithaca and farms with her business partner in Trumansburg.
From the website: “At the focal point of this movement, and of this film, are the farmers and chefs who are creating a truly sustainable food system. Their collaborative work has resulted in great tasting food and an explosion of consumer awareness about the benefits of eating local. Attention being paid to the local food movement comes at a time when the failings of our current industrialized food system are becoming all too clear. For the first time in history, our children’s generation is expected to have a shorter lifespan than our own. The quality, taste and nutritional value of the food we eat has dropped sharply over the last fifty years. Shipped from ever-greater distances, we have literally lost sight of where our food comes from and in the process we’ve lost a vital connection to our local community and to our health. A feature-length documentary, INGREDIENTS illustrates how people around the country are working to revitalize that connection. Narrated by Bebe Neuwirth, the film takes us across the U.S. from the diversified farms of the Hudson River and Willamette Valleys to the urban food deserts of Harlem and to the kitchens of celebrated chefs Alice Waters, Peter Hoffman and Greg Higgins. INGREDIENTS is a journey that reveals the people behind the movement to bring good food back to the table and health back to our communities.”
Saturday Morning – Session Two
Location: Beverly J. Martin School (room locations TBA)
Kids Zone: 9am – 12pm Primitive Pursuits (ages 4-12 years) 1 – 2pm Cooking with Kids Workshop, for kids (Laura)
Time: Saturday 9:00 – 10:30am, discussions will take place simultaneously
“Biodiversity, Agroecology and Food Systems”
Panelists: Katie Fiorella (Cornell University), Audrey Baker (Youth Farm Project, Cornell University), Brett Chedzoy (Cornell Cooperative Extension, local grazier), Paul Simonin (Cornell University), Steve Gabriel (Wellspring Forest Farm, Farming the Woods, Cornell Small Farms).
Summary: As efforts to understand the sustainability and resilience of local food systems expand, we can best understand local food systems by appreciating the integration of food production across fishery, crop, livestock, and natural systems. Our failure to do so thus far has fostered a disjointed understanding of our food system, contributed to inequalities in food access, and exacerbated overexploitation and environmental degradation. For example, the conversion of low-value fish products to livestock feed or the extent of eutrophication of waterways with agricultural run-off demonstrate the ways these systems are linked.
Description: This multimedia, interactive workshop addresses the development of the industrial food system, the impacts of food policy on our lives and communities, and what you can do about it. It uses hand-drawn visual animations (shown on a projector), an assortment of props, and an interactive skit to bring the policy process to life. Goals of the workshop: Participants will gain an enriched understanding of the food system, the role of food policy, and how to get involved in the policy process. In turn, this will help develop the movement for a better food system.
Workshop facilitators: Ariana Taylor-Stanley, Here We Are Farm
Goals of the workshop: Participants will gain an enriched understanding of the food system, the role of food policy, and how to get involved in the policy process. In turn, this will help develop the movement for a better food system.
This workshop aims to illuminate different formats for experiential learning and partnership between institutions of higher education and community based organizations and businesses. We do not present a solely “service-learning” perspective, and I critique this model as a “fall back” approach to community engaged learning. Instead, we present several frameworks for exploration and discussion. Those who will benefit from this workshop include: folks working in food systems from a direct services or business perspective (farms, food pantry, community gardens, food access orgs, farm-to-table businesses, etc), academics and educators or university programs exploring the role of food systems education in an applied setting (or those who want to!)
About half of the time will be devoted to laying out different options, best practices, and things to consider for both food systems practitioners and academic institutions. This includes a discussion on privilege and power between universities and the greater community, and how food systems academic work is uniquely positioned to contribute to applied food systems work addressing issues of inequality across race, class and gender. We will also cover some of the ways that community engaged learning formats “get it wrong.” The second half of the workshop will be about brainstorming and networking. The facilitator will share some of the paperwork that she use as part of her job setting up internships and teaching a class about applied food systems work. We will divide into groups based on who is in the room (educators or practitioners) and discuss different models and craft possibilities and next steps.
Facilitator bio: Elissa Johnson, Internship Coordinator, Food Studies, Falk College, Syracuse University. I have lead multiple experiential education courses in both Vermont and Minnesota. I currently work at Syracuse University in the Food Studies Program where I coordinate all internships for students in Food Studies.
This workshop will explore the processes currently underway in the U.S. to scale-out agroecology–not solely as a set of techniques to make food production more ecological and resilient, but as a path for our collective liberation. We will discuss the ways in which agroecology is a concept in dispute, how the term has been articulated by global social movements of farmers and indigenous peoples fighting for the rights of mother earth, climate justice, and food sovereignty, and how regional encounters are being used to help grow the movement for agroecology and food sovereignty here in the U.S. This workshop is for anyone interested in learning about the regional agroecology encounters and how to support and/or participate in them.
Facilitator bio: Corbin works as the Global Linkages program coordinator at WhyHunger, a NYC-based grassroots support organization, where he works to support social movements for food sovereignty and agroecology. He was first introduced to food justice and food sovereignty through working at Added Value’s Red Hook Community Farm and as an Emerson Hunger Fellow at the Congressional Hunger Center. Corbin is born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, and currently lives in the neighborhood of Sunset Park.
Description: You’ve seen the statistics: our current food system does not allow all people access to nutritious and affordable food. Today access to healthy food is not just in low income neighborhoods and the working poor, communities of color and rural areas, it is all around us. Climate change and the rising incidence of extreme weather patterns is affecting our food supply, crop yields, food prices, food processing, and storage and distribution systems which makes healthy food less accessible to everyone. We need access to high quality food; they are fundamental to a healthy life. This workshop will dispel some myths about not being able to eat healthy on a budget, and provide you with some strategies to stretch your food dollar.
Description: This workshop will demonstrate how to use food waste to create dyes. I have been teaching natural dye and other fiber oriented processes in the local community for the past 3 years!
Facilitator: Sarah Gotowka, Multicultural Resource Center/ Luna Fiber Studio
Description: As Peer Specialists at the Jenkins Center for Hope and Recovery, we have noticed that the incidents of aggression, anxiety, social isolation, and hunger were reduced significantly whenever soup was prepared, including vegetarian African Soups, Lentil Soups, Sweet Potato, butternut squash soups and many other legume based soups using whole/natural ingredients. In this workshop we will share our history and heritage, as migrant workers who ate most of our food from the fields that we picked produce and we had our own gardens that fed people in our neighborhood. We will use stories from our experience and education to help the workshop participants understand that eating healthy is tied up in the way they feel.
Saturday Morning Session Three
Location: Beverly J. Martin School (room locations TBA)
Time: Saturday 10:45am – 12:15pm, discussions will take place simultaneously
Note: 11am – 1pm FOOD VENDORS – RESOURCES – COOKING DEMOS with Coalition for Healthy School Food
“Knowledge, Farming & Food Paper Presentations 2: Community-Engaged Endeavors”
Abstract: Ithaca has one of the most vibrant food systems in all of upstate NY with roots back to the 1970’s when locavore was not even a word in the dictionary and food justice and food access were not such a prominent concern as they have become. As an extension educator since 1980, I have been immersed in the transition that has take place in our local food system over the years. And I have conducted many studies that quantify it’s growth and impact. This session will provide a context for understanding local food systems what makes them work/thrive and why many struggle. Information on how to track local food system impacts will be shared along with the results of local studies. Recently, I have also compared Ithaca with other NY regional food systems to develop a tool for assessing the maturity of a local food system…how far has it come, is there room to grow or is it mature. Challenges and opportunities will be shared for Ithaca and beyond.
Seed to Supper is a comprehensive beginning gardening course that gives novice gardeners the tools they need to connect with others in community, grow in confidence, and successfully grow a portion of their own food on a limited budget. A joint effort of Oregon Food Bank and the Oregon State University Extension Master Gardener Program, Seed to Supper is offered in collaboration with community-based host agencies throughout the state of Oregon. Agencies affiliated with housing authorities, community centers, Head Start and other hunger‐relief agencies such as food pantries and hot meal sites host Seed to Supper gardening classes and workshops to aid participants in growing fresh produce, preparing nutritious foods and learning new life skills. The program is also available in Spanish to meet the needs of Oregon’s underserved Latino community. Seed to Supper relies on a successful multiplier approach in which facilitators lead classes at community host sites such as emergency food pantries, public libraries, affordable housing units, schools, churches, and prisons. Classes are taught indoors in the off-season in order to prepare participants for successful gardening. In New York state, we have engaged in ways to strengthen and adapt key facets for local use, including: identifying facilitators who reflect the diversity of the constituents with whom they are gardening; shifting from a ‘training’ approach to a leadership development model; employing approaches such as shorter meeting times and online components to minimize lengthy in-person meetings which may tend to favor predominantly upper-middle class Caucasian retired facilitators; and deeply engaging students in the process of developing and ultimately distance teaching facilitator preparation in three pilot sites, with the intent of fine tuning and continuing thereafter. Our two semester course sequence uses embedded assessment techniques such as robust reflective writing, critical incident questionnaires, small group reflection, a retreat model and other techniques to determine student learning throughout the process (not simply an evaluation at course’s end). Community partners are surveyed and interviewed at key points to ensure that the facilitation partnership is meeting their needs. Similar to student learners, those involved in facilitator preparation also respond to embedded assessment throughout their leadership development experience.
“Resilience & Community Empowerment Paper Sessions 1: Food Sovereignty and Food Justice”
Abstract: The aim of food sovereignty is self-determination and empowerment at the level of communities. This suggests that food sovereignty is a dynamic sociocultural and ecological process rather than just an outcome or product. Although scholars often position food sovereignty and food security as alternative paradigms, food security is one important outcome of food sovereignty. Food sovereignty is achieved through interdependence between and engagement with a community’s phenomenological environment. The cornerstones of food sovereignty include: (1) use of place-based or indigenous knowledge; (2) facilitated by what is ecologically possible in a particular context; (3) grounded in the local cultural fabric; and (4) reached through effective institutional governance structures that adapt to changing sociocultural and environmental circumstances. While seemingly counter intuitive, at the heart of food sovereignty is difference, which is necessary to achieve the common outcomes of food security, empowerment, and self-determination. Differences among human communities and between their habitats is key to establishing secure food systems. Enduring food sovereignty, therefore, is a result of diversity in ways of knowing supported by a variety of cultures and multiplicity of ecological contexts.
Abstract: Urban agriculture (UA) has been one response to the growing problem of inadequate access to fresh affordable foods in urban communities. There are at least two basic challenges to UA initiatives: the degraded state of most urban soils, and the loss of agrarian values once largely defined by a community’s relationship with the soil. In order to achieve a long-term sustainable solution to the problem of food access in urban communities UA initiatives should focus primarily on rebuilding urban soil and rebuilding the relationship between soil and urban residents. It is my view that the best approach to bridging the gap between the life of the soil and urban life is through a specifically ecological urban agriculture (EUA). EUA looks to specifically rebuild the connection between home, shared work and well-being in urban communities by focusing on the role that access to soil can play in forging these connections. Just as ecological agriculture looks at the farm as an ecosystem EUA looks at the city as an ecosystem with potential resources flowing through it. In this way the goals of creating access to fresh healthy food and creating more sustainable cities intersect for EUA. Recognizing this intersection and responding to it can have implications for the way we understand urban food access and the on the ground practices of urban agriculture.
Abstract: Emerging in response to race- and class-based inequalities perpetuated by food movements in the United States, the food justice movement is being used by low-income communities of color to address their food needs. This movement relies on an emancipatory discourse, characterized by what I call intersectional agriculture. While a small number of scholars have drawn attention to the ways in which food justice attempts to counter inequalities, little is known about it in relation to the two dominant food movements in the United States: corporate agriculture and local food. The corporate agriculture movement is characterized by a marketization discourse, which relies on large farms practicing conventional agriculture, supported by the corporate-controlled, transnational U.S. food system. In contrast, the local food movement relies on a social protectionist discourse, led by small farmers and environmentally concerned consumers, supporting civic or sustainable agriculture. Each movement attempts to restructure the ways in which food is distributed, consumed, and produced, impacting the social, cultural, political, economic, and environmental dimensions of food. However, many studies of food justice tend to treat the movement in isolation, ignoring how it operates with and against the other two movements. Using the lens of Nancy Fraser’s triple movement theory, located at the nexus of Karl Polanyi’s double movement and fictitious commodities, this paper develops a conceptual framework to explore the role of food justice in the context of U.S. food movements.
Abstract: This brief is summarizes a paper about the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Nation’s eco village for 17,000 people created on the banks of the Missouri River in Cannonball, North Dakota. The paper would discuss the ceremonial prayerful resistance ecovillage village established by the Lakota and their allies to protect food, water, and tribal sovereignty and prevent an oil pipeline from being drilled next to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation under the Missouri River their drinking water source. The water protectors created a vibrant expanding community outreach program that developed a Local Food System, a Local Food Economy, community gardens, resiliency, food justice, farmer’s markets, community kitchens and a global supply chain.
Beginning in April of 2016, issues of food and water sovereignty, treaty rights, constitutional rights and climate change were confronted in a creative and unique way on the American Plains. For the first time in recent political and social memory, the word water protectors was promoted across all social and corporate media and live streamed daily. The water protectors were out on the front lines struggling to protect what every human and animal needs: fresh water. This is a first hand report of the eco village built, meals served to the 14,000 to 16,000 allies. This historic gathering of 386 Federally recognized tribes to protect water drew allies from nations all over the world. The outreach program to the United Nations, international environmental organizations, faith based asset managers, pension fund coalitions, and many non profit organizations make this moment of solidarity possible.
If the pipeline ever leaked or broke (high probability), it could spill into the Missouri River upstream of the tribe’s major population center. The Missouri River is the tribe’s only source of water. Because the Army Corps failed to involve the tribe in its permitting of an easement for the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners have violated the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act; the original pipeline was to be routed just north of Bismarck, North Dakota and was moved to the present route to protect the white residents of Bismarck, North Dakota’s and its drinking water. Remarkable news from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers occurred during and after the trip. The pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners began drilling when the Army Corps of Engineers granted them an easement needed for construction to continue on 8 February 2017. The easement had been denied just two months earlier when the Corps said that an Environmental Impact Statement would need to be completed. Now the fate of the fresh water supplies and the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers lies in the Federal Courts for the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and 17 million people who live and work downstream of the route of the Dakota Access pipeline.
WORKSHOPS SATURDAY LATE MORNING
Description: This workshop will engage participants in hands-on inoculation of mushrooms to take home. We will have some discussion of mushrooms and then spend most of the time inoculating logs with shiitake and straw with oysters. Come prepared to get a bit messy.
Facilitator: Steve Gabriel (Agroforestry Extension Specialist; Editor, Small Farm Quarterly; Cornell Small Farms Program)
Location: Kitchen workshop, Facilitator: Anna Dawson
Summary: A sustainable local food system needs cooks who will freeze the harvest. The objective of this workshop is to awaken interest in using freezing and vacuum packaging in community kitchens to build a resilient community where all ages work together to design, taste, make, market and eat healthy frozen local food with pride. The possibilities are endless. Freezing is faster and easier than canning. The product is also higher quality. If canning was so much better than freezing, the grocery store would not have six aisles of frozen meals compared to one aisle for canned vegetables and fruits. With freezing and vacuum packaging, new combinations can be put together than grandma could never have done. The facilitator has many years experience using these skills and will have samples of equipment and final products to share and discuss.
This will be an outdoor walk to identify local sources of medicinal plants. Facilitator: (Amanda David), Rootwork Herbals / Bramble Community Herbalism
Food Movements Workshops 3: Building Solidarity in the Food System; A Conversation (Grace Gershuny)
Description: My wife, Margaret and I have been farming since 2005. We have a 92 acre property that is our home in Hector New York. We raise Icelandic sheep, blueberries, hay and a 15 month old girl person. We presented this talk at this years NOFA New York winter Conference. And would like an opportunity to present to a “local” audience. The scope of our presentation is to, coached in our own context, convey how one might learn of past land use practices by historical account and reading legacy signs in the landscape to inform how one might proceed in their new ventures as land stewards. Stone walls, raised beds, vegetation etc tell us a lot about what was done in the past. Having a degree in Sociology myself from SUNY Binghamton I appreciate putting one into a larger historical context. Hector is rich with “history” ripe for a political economic critic. From the murderous campaign of General Sullivan, the displacement of Native peoples, the disjointed and sporadic settlement of New Englanders, The Military land track, the Bread basket nature of the Finger Lakes, to the impoverishment of farmers during the great depression and then big cooperate wine makers abandonment of growers to New of Liberal Globalism. We ask others to understand their own local history when they farm. Participation will be limited to questions and discussions but also a demonstration of how to use web resources to learn of your soil types and what watershed you are within.
Facilitator: Jeromy Biazzo (Wolftree Farm, and Biologist with the Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research Unit, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health)
Description: Seed, the foundation of food & of civilization, is now a commodity after millennia of being shared as a commons. After losing over 80% of the genetic diversity of our agricultural crops in the last century, adaptation & imagination have never been so critical. Come be inspired by the collaborations between organic farmers, seed companies, chefs, food banks & universities that are strengthening our food system in the Finger Lakes, even as our climate changes. [Everyone who attends leaves with a complimentary Fruition seed packet.]
Facilitator: Petra Page-Mann
Bio: Raised in the Finger Lakes of New York, Petra Page-Mann spent over a decade traveling the world, working for one of the smallest seed companies in the world & also one of the largest before returning to co-found Fruition Seeds in 2012. Be inspired by 350+ varieties at www.fruitionseeds.com and follow Fruition Seeds on Instagram & Facebook. If she’s not farming she is singing, on her bike, hunting mushrooms or sharing a feast with a friend.
Saturday Afternoon – Session Four
Location: Beverly J. Martin School (room locations TBA).
Time: Saturday 1:00 – 2:30pm, discussions will take place simultaneously
Paper Sessions: “Food Policy, Access, and Systems”
Abstract: The food purchasing decisions of large institutions have enduring environmental and social implications. As a land-grant university situated in an agricultural area, and housing some of the world’s leading scholars of food systems and sustainable development, Cornell University is poised to use its position as a major food provider to initiate change and to lead in the development of ethical and sustainable institutional food procurement.
Partnering with a nation-wide effort to track higher education institutional food purchasing, Cornell University’s Food Focus Committee has investigated the supply chain, sourcing, and food procurement criteria of Cornell Dining’s food purchases between January and December 2016. This work is funded by the Cornell University Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, and is the product of collaboration between the Cornell University Horticulture Department and Cornell’s Procurement and Payment Services in the Division of Financial Affairs. The goal is to engage with Cornell Dining Services to support Cornell’s dedication to sustainability
We examine the geographic source of each item, and characterize the foods in categories of local, community-based, environmentally sustainable, socially just, and ethically produced. We use the results to identify opportunities for Cornell Dining to improve sourcing to be more environmentally and socially just.
It is important for Cornell Dining to increase transparency both at the consumer level and at the procurement level. Making sourcing and production information available to students dining at Cornell will enhance environmental and social responsibility in the student body. At the procurement level, the information will allow Cornell University to more deeply understand its own process of procuring food, and will help the University accomplish its commitment to environmental and social justice.
Through our work to foster collaboration between researchers, sustainability advocates, and Cornell Procurement and Payment Services, we have learned much about the process of advocating for change in an institutional food system. We would like to share insights on this experience, and propose opportunities for collaboration between local institutions.
Abstract: This paper evaluates Minnesota’s Food Access Guide to consider a food justice lens in food systems planning. Minnesota faces major racial disparities in health and economic outcomes. Primary causes of these disparities are inequities in access to healthy, affordable food as well as living wage jobs, land, and capital. Food and agriculture policies and planning practices rooted in food justice can be effective at reducing racial and class disparities. Over the past two years, statewide efforts have led to the creation of the Minnesota Food Charter, a document and associated network aiming to create policies and practices that increase healthy food access for all. The Food Access Planning Guide derives from the MN Food Charter, and it provides instructions, policies and principles on how urban and regional planners and food advocates may marshal comprehensive planning policies to promote healthy food access. The Food Access Planning Guide is one of the most robust attempts at crafting policy language in Minnesota, and could have a powerful effect on the state’s food systems–as well as inspire similar efforts across the nation. Given its importance we interrogate how the Minnesota Food Access Planning Guide promotes food justice. We start by building a food justice policy and planning framework for analysis, by building on Cadieux and Slocum’s “four key points of food justice intervention” — trauma/inequity, exchange, land and labor–and adding power and systems change as categories for analysis. By conducting archival research and a discourse analysis we assess the pros and cons of the guide using the food justice framework. While the guide contains some Food Justice principles, particularly in relation to food access, our analysis shows that it lacks a critical race and class analysis. Rather it offers a superficial representation of race in food systems planning, conceives advocacy according to the ownership of private property, and prioritizes urban development as the driving force for change. We conclude by addressing the realities of implementation and providing recommendations for how the guide –and urban and regional planners– can promote food justice and reduce health and income inequities in Minnesota and beyond.
Abstract: What role(s) do urban actors play in the development of the food sovereignty framework in particular and in food-systems change in general? Urban agriculture, while not a unified social movement in its own right, is a growing social practice surrounded by claims – including from some movements for food sovereignty – to increase food security, empower consumers in decision-making about the food system, reclaim urban lands, close nutrient cycle loops and ‘reconnect’ urban residents to nature. As such, it occupies a rich conceptual space in thinking through mechanisms to repair the “metabolic rift” between town and country, driven by urbanization, capital accumulation and the industrialization of agriculture. Through the development of three case studies of urban agriculture initiatives that deploy the language of food sovereignty in Canada and Brazil, our paper explores if, how and to what extent urban agriculture can “close the rift” by discursively and materially mobilizing the urban into agrarian struggles related to social and ecological justice and food sovereignty. On one hand, principles, practices and values related to agrarian citizenship are expressed in urban settings, as consumers and urban farmers articulate and re-assert agrarian “identities, knowledges, positions and political struggles” (Roman-Alcalá, 2015). Urban farmers bring the discourses of food sovereignty and agroecology into the city, while at the same time urban and peri-urban grower communities attract new generations who bring radical social justice discourses and networks to urban agriculture. Urban agriculture can further provide an “experiential production” context (Mincyte and Dobernig 2016) and space for the participatory embodiment of food sovereignty (Morrison 2011), through which urban actors adopt and adapt a broadening collective identity of “agrarian citizenship.” But on the other hand, some urban farming initiatives in North America, as part of growing alternative food movements, have also been widely critiqued for the exclusionary tendencies of “progressive whiteness” (Slocum 2007), diverting energy and resources away from participation in radical peasant struggles. Tensions in emergent urban agrarianisms are expressed differently across a number of interrelated urban actor positions (farmer, gardener, consumer, activist, and policy-maker). Our interrogation into whether and how the theoretical reach of food sovereignty extends into urban contexts through urban agriculture addresses the following interrelated questions: 1) what processes of urban agriculture radicalize and which ones deradicalize urban actors? 2) among different urban actors, does the practice of urban agriculture maintain conceptual separations of nature/society, urban/rural, producer/consumer or dissolve those binaries, and to what effect for urban agrarianism? 3) are urban agrarianism and rural agrarian citizenship different identity frames, if so how and what tensions exist between them? and 4) in what ways has urban agrarianism advanced and hindered food sovereignty as a political project? In unpacking the concept of urban agrarianism, our paper begins to clarify the ‘urban food question’ within the global struggle for food sovereignty.
“Resilience & Community Empowerment Paper Sessions”
Abstract: This study explores the dynamics of local-level climate change adaptation strategies among smallholder farmers in Same District, northern Tanzania. Socio-political and ecological contexts for farmer adaptation exist at multiple scales, from the household to the global. Through the examination of mixed-methods fieldwork data, regional historical perspectives, and the broader discourse on community based adaptation and resilience, this paper develops a regional political ecological case study from what was a larger, eight-country research program and subsequent NGO community-based intervention, that promoted particular local agronomic strategies for increased “resilience.” It was found that the determinants of farmer adoption of these adaptation strategies were shaped not only by their household decision-making strategies, but also by their social networks, place-based traditional knowledge, and institutional support. Despite relatively high levels of farmer utilization of “adaptive” practices, technical challenges to smallholder rainfed crop production persist, in particular with regard to increasing rainfall variability, an aging farmer population, and widespread out-migration of youth and working-age men from the rural areas. These findings prompt a policy discussion on the efficacy of community based adaptation programs to help people increase their resilience “where they are,” and the need for multi-scaled and multi-regional planning for human migration as an adaptive strategy. This paper contributes to the growing debate on the feasibility and necessity of community-based adaptation, human migration, and climate change.
Abstract: Recent scholarship, debates and advocacy on agroecology have centered the ways in which it can and should be linked to issues of power. Terms such as political agroecologies have highlighted the importance of attention to political and economic factors which shape the possibilities for using agroecology to address control and rights to food and build food sovereignty. Discussions about praxis – how to teach agroecology – and how to differentiate it from terms such as sustainable intensification or regenerative agriculture, have largely focused on the ways in which agroecology can be de-politicized, co-opted and framed as primarily technical approaches to agriculture. These broader debates often fail to be embedded in critical examinations of the power dynamics within households and communities who are using agroecological approaches. In this paper a case study in Malawi with a long-term farmer-led agroecology project is used to examine whether agroecology can be effectively used to address food sovereignty, which includes improved nutrition. Three simple agroecological strategies – crop diversification, intercropping and incorporating organic material into the soil – were important strategies utilized by smallholder farmers in Malawi. These methods, however, are labor intensive, may require additional knowledge, and often require negotiation and addressing power dynamics within and beyond households in order to prove effective at addressing food sovereignty and improved nutrition. We find that the re-centering food production on relationships and using a feminist and participatory praxis which centered on experimentation, iterative dialogue, and intersectionality, were critical components for addressing food security and nutrition. Our focus on child nutrition improvements led to increased attention to inequalities in decision-making and labour at the household and community level, and we developed several innovative educational strategies to address these inequalities. Many of these strategies focused on dialogue and problem-solving and drew on local concepts of traditional leadership and knowledge to foster change. We also paid attention to particular inequalities such as those experienced by youth or people infected with HIV/AIDS. Advocates of agroecolology and food sovereignty need to ground the discussion in the daily lived realities of smallholder farming families, including the difficult and complex issues related to gender, nutrition and power dynamics. At the same time, the labor intensive nature of many agroecological practices, alongside unequal access to knowledge and resources such as land and organic material, means that some farmers are more likely to benefit from agroecology than others. We argue that the feminist concepts of intersectionality and participatory praxis are central to mobilizing agroecology to truly build food sovereignty and achieve food security and nutrition for all.
Abstract: Over the course of my research with black farmers and gardeners in Cleveland, Ohio, interview topics have often strayed from food or growing and the experience of race to themes including art, literature, poetry, yoga, exercise, safety (and violence), among others. The concept that poor and historically marginalized people are full, complex, and multi-faceted human beings with needs beyond food and shelter is not a hard sell. However, community development and social welfare programs often approach poor communities of color from a “”needs only”” perspective, addressing only what is necessary for survival. Food, housing, healthcare, and jobs. The arts, or culture more broadly, are implicitly understood to be unnecessary or even excessive. The unspoken assumption becomes, “”If you can’t afford to buy food at the end of the month, you couldn’t possibly want to participate in a poetry slam or take dance lessons.”” Notwithstanding, black growers in Cleveland are not solely focused on producing food, and they do not want to simply survive, they want to see their communities thrive. Residents are participating in urban gardening and farming as a way to create beautiful spaces, to produce urban natures in a way that shifts the perception of their neighborhoods (both internally and externally). Furthermore, they want to see a holistic approach to community building and urban development more broadly, which means addressing the whole human being: the physical, mental, emotional, and the spiritual.
This philosophy is partly what undergirds the FreshLo pilot grant program funded by the Kresge Foundation. FreshLo, or Fresh, Local, and Equitable, centers four main themes: creative placemaking, health, economic development, and equity. Kresge defines creative placemaking as “”any artistic or creative effort to make a particular community stronger””, essentially recognizing that arts and culture are central to a thriving community. In Garden Valley, an extremely impoverished, majority black neighborhood in Cleveland, the FreshLo project is constituted as a partnership between four black run and owned organizations and businesses, including an environmental and sustainability non-profit, a 7-acre urban farm, a music record label, and a food pantry that also serves as a community center. These partners work together to engage Garden Valley residents on “”History, Health, and Healing”” in the black community, education focusing on music and arts production, and a program designed to jumpstart a youth run café in the community, sourcing produce from community gardens and urban farms.
This paper analyzes the FreshLo pilot program in Cleveland, how arts, culture, food, and farming articulate together to effect change, as well as the tensions between community development as it has been historically practiced, and a more collaborative, resident-driven model. This alternative approach is not entirely unproblematic, nor does it completely eschew well-known tropes of hard work, self-reliance, and entrepreneurialism as a proxy for equitable investment in poor communities of color across the city. It does, however, provide insight into the strategies adopted by black Clevelanders and grassroots organizations, leveraging grant money to catalyze structural and sustainable change within their community.
Abstract: Farmers in the Central Finger Lakes Region of New York (USA) balance their production between principles of peasant farming and capitalist farming. They struggle to extend their sphere of autonomy and subsistence production, while extended commodity production is often a response to external forces of the state and capital. This struggle, together with a quantitative increase of small farms, can be described as an instance of repeasantization.
Based on inductive, empirical qualitative social research, in particular participant observation and semi-structured interviews, this thesis describes the economy and social organization of six farms in the area under investigation. Besides selling commodities to pay for many farming inputs and consumer goods, the farms produce for their subsistence and that of their community. They exchange products and services with other farms, they build networks of mutual provisioning, support and mentorship and try to take good care of the land.
This thesis shows that subsistence production and peasant culture are not restricted to the past or the Global South, but also exist in the United States of America, albeit subject to the globalized capitalist market economy. I suggest that these pockets of peasantness are an important source of inspiration for society at large, while the dominant capitalistic social order fails to deliver good living conditions for most people. It is therefore critical to support farmers in their struggle.
WORKSHOPS SATURDAY AFTERNOON
Description: Our Farms, Our Stories is a 23-minute film that features the small farmers of Tioga County, NY. The project sought to raise awareness of the farms and farmers of our county by getting beyond mere production statistics; rather, we aimed to understand the stories of the farmers—why they farm, how they approach their work, challenges and opportunities. The film was one of the outcomes of an Engaged Cornell grant in which four students spent 10 weeks working with the CCE Tioga educator to interview about fifteen farmers in depth. The film features five farms that produce a range of products. It is a beautiful, quiet film that allows the farmers to shine. The film has resonated with every audience, from students to civic leaders to seniors. We will watch the film and then have a conversation about how to improve agriculture in our community by highlighting local farms and farmers.
Description: A national hero, Harriet Tubman was known as the Moses of her People because she served as a “conductor” of the Underground Railroad. Her life was dedicated to liberating enslaved people of African descent who, like her, were born into plantation agriculture labor in the American south. From the age of 6 onward, “Minty” as she was known as a child, worked as a cook, farmer and caretaker for her owners. Through determination to live as a freewoman, and free others born into slavery, Mrs. Tubman persevered against tremendous odds to liberate people over 400 people. Lesser known of Harriet’s life was her role as a farmer, nurse and professional cook: she spent the better part of the second half of her life raising money through farming and food sales to pay for her farmstead. At her Home for the Aged, in Auburn, NY she farmed fresh vegetables, heirloom apple and hawthorn trees still stand, and the kitchen is preserved as a museum. She managed a 40-head hog-farm, and held “Strawberry Socials” to raise money to pay for medicine for her patients, who received free care. She created sanctuary for and, one might argue, health sovereignty for elderly African American people as well as White people who were turned away from other care facilities in the area. In this presentation, I will demonstrate how Tubman’s Home for the Aged provides us with a historical model of food and health sovereignty by understanding and valuing her work as a farmer and cook which an overlooked yet important part of her legacy. From 1870 to 1911, Tubman lived, farmed and cared for the ill on her privately-owned property that she purchased in Auburn, NY. As of 2017, the property is now a US National Historic Park.
In this presentation, I will present on historical and archeological findings about foodways at the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged in order to highlight the important role that food played in the liberation work of Tubman’s life in the Finger Lakes. Additionally, I will present the myriad food metaphors that accompany historical archives of her life. “I felt like a blackberry in a pail of milk,” she said after placing the winning bid for her farm parcel at a public auction in Auburn. I will begin by doing a brief cooking demonstration of one of her favorite dishes, Corn Bread, and serve it to the participants at the end of the workshop.
Description: This workshop will discuss various perennial crops which can contribute to both food security and climate change resilience. Crops to be discussed include tree fruit, nuts, perennial wheatgrass and perennial forages.
Facilitator: Brian Caldwell, Sustainable Cropping Systems lab, Cornell University
Description: A Farmer and A Chef demystifies the process of making delicious and wholesome food with minimal equipment, local ingredients and simple processes.
Facilitator: Brad Marshall will be presenting. He is a co-owner of the Piggery Butcher Shop and runs a 600-head pasture-raised pig farm in Trumansburg NY. He was trained at the French Culinary Institute and is a former Cornell trained geneticist.