Intensive: Equity in the Organic Movement


Sarah Brown, Oregon Tilth

Amani Olugbala, Soul Fire Farm

Is social equity in organic agriculture more than empty rhetoric, good intentions, an impossible dream? Are we as organic farmers, educators, and advocates really paving the path to fairer food? How do we fight racism, sexism, and classism that we know shape our own beliefs and actions? What concrete, courageous actions must we take--in the field, on the ground-- to change ourselves and change the system?  

This intensive workshop will guide us in a provocative, participatory exploration of social equity in organic agriculture. Our sector wants to be the farming movement of diversity and inclusion, fair wages and worker protections, equal access to a healthy environment and healthy food. But we know how short we fall from these ideals. We see who's missing when we look at our customers, co-workers, and conferences. We recognize the vast, historical, structural causes, the powerfully entrenched barriers to equity. We feel guilty and overwhelmed and helpless. We struggle to figure out what it means to “be an ally” and “stand with” the marginalized; which votes, Tweets, data, and donations make a difference; what in the world we can do beyond outreach, outrage, and magical thinking?

 This special intensive will focus on our individual and collective roles in keeping farms profitable and productive, improving farm wages and working conditions, making healthy food accessible to all, and diversifying leadership in our sector. It will create a comfortable space for discomfort, for reflecting on our own responsibility and vulnerability. We'll investigate the interactions between structural and institutional inequalities and our personal experiences and perspectives. We'll examine the problems, causes, connections, and solutions. We'll deepen and broaden our thinking about our own choices and priorities: Which partners do we cultivate? Which policies do we champion? Which practices do we change? Finally, we'll lay a foundation for ongoing dialogue and support, exploring possibilities for a learning/working group or community of practice for social equity in organic agriculture.

Speaker Bios

Amani Olugbala, Assistant Program Director at Soul Fire Farm, is a storyteller who weaves music, film, speech and poem into art that highlights social injustice, honors the ancestors and demands for change. This, in an effort to uplift the spirits of the marginalized and promote love and service as necessary acts of rebellion against isolation and disconnection. An artist, farmer, educator and community organizer Amani uses artistic expression, urban agriculture and social awareness to impact change and foster a sense of empathy and inter-being in local urban communities. Amani started out at Soul Fire Farm as a participant and later facilitator of the Black and Latino Farmers Immersion.