Building Self-reliant Communities


SATURDAY (11/5)  11:00-12:15 PM

Abolition Strategies: Deconstructing and Reconstructing Food Systems

Historically abolition has been a framework for deconstructing systems of oppression including chattel slavery, and prisons. Deconstructing oppressive systems that no longer serve communities, and instead cause further harm and trauma requires multilayer approaches that move along a spectrum of reform to radical to revolutionary. The strategies employed by abolitionist historically to deconstruct those systems and reconstruct new ones in the vision of those most harmed have a wealth of tactical knowledge to share with emerging movements. This workshop will provide a basic framework for abolition strategies specifically framed within the lens of resisting anti blackness. The workshop will also provide a dialectical space for inquiry and building collective understanding around the practical application of abolition strategies to our broken anti black food system. *This workshop is for individuals who are of African Descent or who Identify as racially Black.


  • Beatriz Beckford, National Black Food & Justice Alliance
  • Randolph Carr, National Black Food & Justice Alliance

The Hip-Hop Hauler: How to Turn Trash into Cash

Please join us as we ""Rethink Trash 4D Future-Dead Prez- & Pastor Troy"" Farmers need organic fertilizer and a residual income in order to survive the vulnerabilities of farming. Compost allows us to come full circle with indigenous farming practices while addressing this need. NYC Organics Collection is a pilot program funded by DSNY that collects food scraps and yard waste to recycle into compost or renewable energy. Come learn what compost is, why it is valuable, and how to leverage this pilot program as a means for economic empowerment. We will have a ""Basura Freestyle Battle"" where the winner gets a prize!


  • Dior St.Hillaire, GREENFEEN

Reclaiming Eden: How Urban Farming Can Revitalize the Church

Many churches across the nation are facing the same dilemma: shrinking attendance, aging membership, and dwindling resources. One resource many of these churches have is property; large buildings and underused land. Using models such as Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Baltimore and Garfield Community Farm in Pittsburgh, this workshop will demonstrate how churches can be a central component to addressing issues of food justice in their city. We will discuss the theology behind the church's involvement in farming (the why) and look at practical steps to help churches repurpose their land and building through raised beds, soil development, and aquaponics.


  • Derrick Weston, BCC

Cafeteria Cooking is a Revolutionary Act

Cooking real food is a revolutionary act. Food is about nourishment and is fundamental to our existence. The nature of food ensures that much of this work is inherently hands-on and personal while also addressing systemic, structural issues. Quite literally, food is for most people something we handle every day. As more people do not know how to cook, we have lost the means to care for ourselves. Nadine Nelson will share her projects range that can be categorized as Art interventions, regenerative placemaking, adventures in social sculpture, and old fashioned train the trainer models. Central to this work is the engagement with people in culinary education and food justice. Designing programs like Public Kitchen and Master Cooks Corps, T- Stop Meal, Living with S.O.U.L. (Sustainable, Organic, Unprocessed, and Local) Food, Harvest Mandala and others, she uses the kitchen as a revolutionary place for people to feel empowered, learn, connect to the environment, share their culture, provide fellowship, build community, and cook up solutions to brainwashed thinking that food costs too much, it is too hard to grow, not having time to cook, and the best one what about food deserts? She will share concrete examples that show how cooking can liberate the food movement and make it even more delicious.


  • Chef Nadine Nelson, Global Local Gourmet/ Kitchen Oasis

SATURDAY (11/5)  1:30-2:45 PM

A Historical Overview of Black Farmers in Canada

Very little literature exists around the settlement experiences of Black farmers in Canada. Many Black families who fled to Canada from United States were desperate to escape the harsh realities of slavery and Jim Crow laws. Canada, framed as being less racist, and willing to give land to new immigrants appealed to many African Americans as their path to freedom, ownership, and possibly peace. The migration of African Americans from United States to Canada follows a migration map of a resilient and industrious people who left Oklahoma for Alberta in the early 1900’s, Ohio and other States to Ontario in the mid 1800’s, and the unique narrative of the Black Loyalist to Nova Scotia in the 1700’s. From the onset settlements established were farming communities; like Amber Valley in Alberta; Buxton near Chatham-Kent, Queens Bush north of Waterloo in Ontario, and Guysborough in Nova Scotia among others. This history is imperative to understanding the role of land and agriculture in the settlement of Black people but also in the context of livelihood, food security, independence and freedom from a white supremacist colonial system.


  • Abena Kwatemaa A. Offeh-Gyimah

Peas & Justice Collective: A Invitation & Call to Action

In 2015, a small group of committed people of color leaders and allies began to develop strategy and joint work with the vision of, ""Communities of color having political power, economic ownership, and control to drive decision-making processes about land, community farming and other racial justice issues in New York City and beyond. Since 2015, this loosely affiliated Collective lovingly named, Peas and Justice, has demonstrated advocacy around Food Hub Development and other policies in NYC and begin strategic thinking about model policies and projects (like Microfood hubs) that would meet this vision. In this workshop, members of Peas will share past work and our best thinking and invite participants engage, discuss and build with us to develop out an agenda toward self reliant and self determined communities of color.


  • Simran Noor, Center for Social Inclusion
  • Karen Washington, Black Urban Growers, La Familia Verde


  • Presenters will include all Peas members available (though not listed): Dennis Derryck, Corbin Hill Food Project; Ray Figueroa, NYC Community Garden Coalition; Qiana Mickie, Just Food; Sheryll Durant, Kelly Street Garden; Simran Noor, CSI and others 

Strengthening community through gardening in Paterson, New Jersey

Located in the 4th ward in Paterson, New Jersey, the Rosa Parks and 12th Ave Green Acre Community Garden is a beacon of hope for many in the predominately African American community through its continuing neighborhood revitalization efforts and the production of organically grown, healthy and culturally appropriate vegetables distributed to neighbors at bi-weekly community farm stands. As part of a strong network of recently established community gardens in Paterson with the support of the non-profit organization City Green, the Green Acre Community Garden is unique in its attention to neighborhood beautification efforts, partnerships with multiple actors, inclusion of youth in ongoing volunteer projects, and distribution of food through a donation-based system. Through this panel discussion, participants will learn about the nascent community garden movement in Paterson that is focused on community assets and the different strategies that a specific community garden uses to address issues of public health, and food and environmental justice. During the workshop, the co-presenters will discuss the historical context of Black gardeners in Paterson and their connections with the South, as well as the multiple strategies utilized by the garden committee to build a strong community around the garden. These include: volunteer work dates; committee-building; development of partnerships; and most importantly, the community farm stands. The co-presenters are very familiar with the topic as they both actively participate in this garden. Participants will be able to utilize multiple strategies in their own gardens, such as asset mapping and developing a community farm stand, and engage with co-presenters regarding best practices and other themes.


  • Claudia Urdanivia, City Green, Inc.
  • Willie Davis, Rosa Parks and 12th Ave Green Acre Community Garden

Convening for QTIBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Intersex, Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Farmers, Foodies, and Food Justice Activists

As QTIBIPOC food workers and land workers, we often finding ourselves in primarily cisgender-heteronormative spaces, our lives and work is often invisibilized within our families of origins and in communities of color. Seeing the need to come together and hold space, we launched this space at the Just Food Conference and were blown away and inspired by the dialogues and community building that took place. Different from a workshop or panel, this space is an opportunity to be visible with, connect to one another, and to share our stories/ experiences of resilience. We will emphasize collective learning and healing, for example, this gathering will be interactive, including small group discussions and sharing with each other about how we build resiliency. Indeed, being our full selves builds resiliency and expands our ability to create. Some of the support and information we hope participants will walk away with: --reduce isolation & build community --share resources with other QTIBIPOC farmers and food justice activist --addressing gender & sexuality in our families & communities --coming out as farmers to our families --listserv to stay connected post conference.


  • Lucretia John, Cypress Hills Local Development Corp; KCC Urban Farm
  • Cris Izaguirre, Kingsborough Community College Urban Farm
  • Dean Jackson, Hilltop Urban Gardens

Afroecology as a Social Methodology

Afroecology is a form of art, movement, practice and process of social and ecological transformation. It involves the re-evaluation of our sacred relationships with land, water, air, seeds and food, through the recognition of ancestral and communal forms of knowledge throughout the African Diaspora. Afroecology uses farmer-to-farmer education to instigate and nurture a political process of collective action and participatory research. In this workshop we will use Afroecology to explore theoretical and practical tools for reframing the narrative around agriculture and land as it relates to black land and liberation for social transformation. Participants will also engage in the art of seedkeeping as a core component of Afroecology that incorporates the cultural practice and process of keeping seeds and the stories that come with them. Ultimately, we will engage in a dialogue of knowledges or “dialogo de saberes” to develop agroecological militant educators armed with an increased understanding of how our cultural and technical capacities can be employed to transform our lived realities. This workshop will be facilitated by members of the Black Dirt Farm Collective (BDFC), a thought collective of farmers, scientists, agrarians, seedkeepers, organizers, and researchers, using the pedagogical principles of black agrarianism as a socially transformative organizing tool.


  • Kirtrina Baxter, Black Dirt Collective
  • Xavier Brown, Black Dirt Collective
  • Joelle Robinson, Black Dirt Collective
  • Shakara Tyler, Black Dirt Collective

Note to Participants:  

  • Please bring seeds to the workshop if possible.

Baltimore Burning - The Decline, Fall and collapse of Baltimore's Park Heights Community

The presentation will facilitate a discussion on social determinants of health of the Park Heights Community in Baltimore City. The presentation will showcase the elimination of food access, the destruction of green space and the declining reality of a progressive and assertive tax base. The decline of all of these elements has led to challenges with health outcomes, crime and pitfalls and all social determinants of health not limited to food access but education, green space, housing etc. The Park Heights Community Health Alliance has designed a program called Urban Oasis which has created solutions to food access and challenges with environmental justice that include: the Afya Community teaching garden, Growing Food Together, CSA, farmers Market and a program for young people called Carver Clubs that reinforces lessons on environmental justice, food and urban farming. While programs are in place there is a challenge with community engagement organizing and trust. ""The Decline, Fall and Collapse"" caused by many years of neglect and population decrease has added to the reduction of population and increase in apathy. The community is rebounding from a history of racial redlining and strategic land banking which has crippled the community and reduced family/community collective self-determination. With so many years of neglect PHCHA identified growing local, chemical free vegetables as a tactic to confront challenges with food access, negative health outcomes and consumerism. The presentation will showcase how the Urban Oasis programming works as a solution and alternative to what currently exists.


  • Willie Flowers, Park Heights Community Health Alliance 
  • Ijeoma Agwu, Park Heights Community Health Alliance 

SATURDAY (11/5)  3:00-4:15 PM

National Black Food & Justice Alliance Caucus and Info Session

This caucus space will provide an introduction to the work of the National Black Food and Justice Alliance, its focus, strategies, and individual/organizational membership. The caucus space will also serve as a political education space for black people within the food movement who are interested in engaging in autonomous black spaces and working on strategies that center resisting anti blackness within the food system and food movement. National Black Food and Justice Alliance is a coalition of Black-led organizations and individuals working towards cultivating and advancing Black leadership, building Black self-determination, Black institution building and organizing for food sovereignty, land and justice. The Alliance seeks to achieve this by engaging in broad based coalition organizing for black food and land, increasing visibility of Black led narratives and work, advancing Black led visions for just and sustainable communities, and building capacity for self-determination within our local, national, and international food systems and land rights work. Our areas of focus include black food sovereignty, self-determining food economies, and land. We approach food sovereignty, land and self-determining food economies via the lens of healing, organizing and resistance against anti-Blackness. *This session s is open to conference attendees who are of African decent or who identify as racially Black.


  • National Black Food & Justice Alliance

What's Land Got to Do With It!?: Zoning Ordinances and Food Access

"What's Land Got to Do With It!?: Zoning Ordinances and Food Access What if we told you that the one policy that controls local food production, distribution, and consumption has nothing to do with food; but is driven by land development and the built environment? “What’s Land Got to Do With It?” Is an exploration of local land land-use and zoning policies and how they impact growing and distributing fresh fruits and vegetables. “What’s Land Got to Do With It?”, will be presented as hybrid workshop and roundtable that will incorporate a formal presentation, interactive demonstration, and a question and answer opportunity. Presenters will provide an explanation of Zoning and Land Use history and purpose; showcase an investigation of current policies that restrict or limit local food production systems; and facilitate a community brainstorm on potential policy changes and advocacy methods that can remedy land-use conflicts. Concluding the presentation participants should (1) have a fundamental knowledge zoning and land-use planning; (2) understand the impact of urban planning, land-use, and zoning on local food production systems; (3) have a general awareness of the public participation processes in local-use and development review process and (4) feel encouraged to get engaged in local land-use development projects to advocate for healthier foods in their community.


  • Brittney Drakeford, The M-NCPPC; Prince George's County Planning Department
  • Cedric Southerland, BCC

Grow Free: Developing Garden Programs in Juvenile Detention and Alternative Settings

This presentation is designed to inspire anyone involved in food justice to develop programs inside juvenile detention or alternative (JDA) settings. We will explore various programs that could be facilitated in JDA settings, the benefits of such programming, and best practices when facilitating garden programs in a detention setting. The presentation will also briefly delve in the social and political forces behind youth incarceration, and utilize a critical analysis approach towards all subjects explored in the areas of race and patriarchy. Developing gardening programs in JDA settings benefits our communities and our most vulnerable young people, especially during a time when the earth’s healing qualities and support from their community is most needed in their lives. This presentation will explore several potential programs that could be implemented in a JDA setting, such as in production, therapy, academia, cooking, health, entrepreneurship, workforce development, and more. All programs will be examined with a culturally appropriate and liberatory lens. I created, developed, and led a youth prison garden program for four years in DC. The garden space was used for several purposes, including academia, producing value-added products, conduct trainings, holding cooking competitions, donating food to shelters, workforce development, and horticultural therapy. I have also consulted several detention centers in developing JDA programs, as well as held trainings for detention center staff at multiple conferences. Through activities, participants will assess the feasibility of their organization or farm in engaging in such an endeavor, and will gain practical insight towards developing JDA garden programs. Participants will also be provided resources towards initiating JDA garden programs.


  • Mark Bowen, Rethink New Orleans

Pink Houses Community Farm: A Model for NYCHA Urban Agriculture

In 2014, East New York Farms! and the Pink Houses Resident Green Committee collaborated to explore possible food access initiatives and came up with the plan to develop a community farm. Now in its second season, the farm distributes produce for free, and is managed collaboratively by residents, youth interns, and ENYF staff. Our workshop will cover the origins of the farm, our model and practices, and our vision for community-led urban agriculture in New York public housing.


  • Tirrell Alford, East New York Farms!

Building Communities From the Soil Up

In our workshops the participants will learn how to begin the stages of urban homesteading. The approach that we use is an African-Centered approach towards agriculture in teaching that the food is the by product of a harmonious relationship that starts with righteous intentions. We teach that intention is felt by all living things, and thus respect for the nature and the culture of these being is a first. We teach how to assist atmospheres of life so that they can be conducive for growing. We teach how to build soil by first building healthy microbial soil communities. From there we teach how to build fungal communities and other organism communities. We teach how to grow, a complete food web starting with the micro all the way to the macro. All of this is done by community participation.


  • Bryan Ibrafall Wright, The Council of Urban Development
  • Lacretia Mitchell, The Council of Urban Development

SUNDAY (11/6)  9:30 - 10:45 AM

Data Matters: Measuring the Good Things in your Garden or Farm

Join us for an interactive workshop on goal-setting and record-keeping with Farming Concrete. Hear from gardeners and farmers about their experiences and lessons learned with data collection and sample a workshop you can bring back to facilitate with your own garden or farm. By the end of this workshop, participants will have: planned to set clear objectives for the season with their fellow gardeners; selected methods for measuring their progress toward achieving their goals; and practiced using the Farming Concrete website.


  • Sheryll Durrant, Farming Concrete
  • Rosalba Lopez, Ramirez Farming Concrete

What's Next for Food Hubs?

To create racially just communities, we need responsive food and farm policy and practice. Policies, in particular, must support small and medium size Black farmers in urban and rural places as well as people of color across the entire food system, from farm to fork. Policies that support people of color food hub ownership, development and maintenance are a critical part of this equation. Join National Black Food and Justice Alliance (NBFJA) and the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI) in a rich dialogue about the current food hub policy landscape, our collective vision for the future of food hubs, and a generative conversation about the robust policy platform that will be needed to ensure this vision can be met. By the end of the session, we will strive to develop draft of policy priorities for BUGS members to review and give feedback on.


  • Simran Noor, Center for Social Inclusion
  • Dara Cooper, National Black Food and Justice Alliance

Healing Through Fruit Tree Maintenance And Other Therapeutic Garden Components

In this round table, we will explore ways we heal and nurture ourselves through the maintenance of fruit trees and other green space components. We will demonstrate and discuss how and why to prune, weed, and mulch; how to stake the main trunk and branches; and to protect against bugs, wildlife, and other animals; and what disease(s) and pests to look out for. We will incite thought that will allow us to engage in a discussion on the need for us to come together in outdoor healing spaces.


  • RonDell Pooler, Rooted and Sustained LLC
  • Gerald Mcintosh, Seed Planters

Completing Food Waste Cycling Through Soil Building, Composting and Permaculture

The earth's microherds living underground process hundreds of tons of detritus daily. These subterranean machines are attracted to the basic recipe of brown (carbon) plus green (nitrogen) plus air, water and time, all which equal GOLD! Dr. Carver taught us that there is “no such thing as waste” and that soil structure is imperative to healthy plant (and planet) propagation.  Learn permaculture based principles regarding soil regeneration and rejuvenation. From simple pallet bins and vermicomposting to anaerobic digesters and windrow heaps, we will see the importance and ease of composting.  As Black people, we have a special affinity with the earth that courses through our veins. We have lost, by force, this love for the land and are regaining this relationship. Since we all eat, we all create food "waste" and can contribute to either helping or hurting our environment.


  • Sizwe Herring, EarthMatters Tennessee

What's Going On, the Real Truth "Join us for a screening of the documentary Manchester Growing Together

Manchester Growing Together Farm is recognized as a model throughout the City of Pittsburgh. The garden/farm is highly acclaimed and has been celebrated for its best practices in environmental stewardship, educational pioneering, juvenile justice remediation, and community service involvement. It has been featured in The Buhl Foundation’s One Northside showcase of “quality of space.” The self-actualization that occurs everyday at our Farm is profound. We are making a difference, academically, socially, physically AND spiritually. From planting to harvesting, food preparation and nutrition, growing healthy food and building a community – in the most unconventionally ways possible. Join us won’t you?"


  • Lisa Freeman, Manchester Growing Together Garden

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