As with everything that has happened since the introduction of COVID-19, we have had to shift how we operate the farm and our traditional days of service; we wanted to make sure that we did not skip our annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, as honoring Dr. King Jr.’s legacy is more important than ever; it allowed us to recognize that the social injustices we face have not been resolved and our work is not done in one day. So our “Day on – not a day off” because a Week of Service so all of those interested in coming out to honor his legacy through volunteering with us would be able to do so in a way that was safe. Over the week of volunteer sessions, we welcomed 29 volunteers who logged almost 90 hours of service – eight of those volunteers were first timers out at the farm!
The tribute to service that Dr. King Jr. touted surfaces as a reminder that we can not carry burdens alone. At the farm we can grow weary with all the troubles of our food system, but the model of community farming carries us through and reminds us that every single person has a role to play. When folks come out to the farm it’s not just an act of service, but a vote for themselves being a part of the solution. A quote from activist Grace Lee Boggs resonates here, “You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it, and responsible for changing it.” Her message, Dr. King Jr.’s legacy and the BLM movement weave together to remind us to see ourselves as inextricably linked to our brothers and sisters who have been most oppressed with such heavy burdens for some time, in our food system and beyond.
It’s important that we see our role and responsibility in helping to carry the undue burdens of others and that it is really our collective burden to carry – racial injustice is a collective trauma to our society. Thank you to those that came out to the farm to show support for Dr. King, our mission, and to continue the discussion of finding all the ways we can show up for our community.
We recognize how much work there is left to do to bring Dr. King Jr.’s vision of a beloved community and hope to be a space where people can come together, feel safe, and that we can provide a space to amplify the voices in our community that are often silenced. For those that have not heard Dr. King Jr.’s vision of a beloved community, he described it as a society where “caring and compassion drive political policies that support the worldwide elimination of poverty and hunger and all forms of bigotry and violence. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.” At its core, the “Beloved Community” is an engine of reconciliation.” For more information, please click here.
For those that were not able to be there for the Week of Service, Farmer Reyna put together an excellent video highlighting the informational board that she created for the Week of Service. The video can be viewed here.
One thing that she highlighted was that The number of black farmers in America peaked in 1920, when there were 949,889. Today, of the country’s 3.4 million total farmers, only 1.3%, or 45,508, are black, according to new figures from the US Department of Agriculture released this month. They own a mere 0.52% of America’s farmland. By comparison, 95% of US farmers are white. (theguardian.com) This is not an accident of history, but instead a debilitating result of the legacy of stolen land of indigenous people and ensuing discrimination that denied black farmers access to resources like loans and subsidies.
We are not experts on the topic of land ownership and certainly cannot speak for the plight of farmers of color in our community, but one thing that we can do is amplify their voices and support them. As part of that commitment to amplify the voices of POC in our community, we are excited to highlight an exciting addition to Sonoma County, the Earthseed Permaculture Center, which will be the first Afro-Indigenous and all Black owned education center in Sonoma County. Click on the link over their name to donate directly to them!
Thank you again for those that come out for the Week of Service, not only for the work that we were able to get done but for the reflections shared and for helping us inch closer to Dr. King Jr.’s vision of that Beloved Community. As Elizabeth, our Farm Assistant said, “ I felt fortunate to know that the folks that have come to know the farm are helping in true allyship. We are building relationships and holding ourselves accountable while calling out all forms of ‘discrimination, bigotry and prejudice’ to stand with marginalized groups. Only in doing that do we start to create a sense of community and have safe spaces for all.”
(Special thanks to our staff for collaborating on this piece and sharing their insights. It was a collaborative effort that exemplifies the personal learning journey we are on individually and as an organization that is seeking to deeper under what it is to be anti-racist.)