NOFA’s Efforts with Justice, Equity, and Anti-racism
TNF is committed to bringing attention to and generating an increased awareness of issues of race and inequality and how these have impacted agriculture and the food system in the past and today. As we highlight these impacts in the larger
context within articles and stories in TNF, we also realize the role we hold as part of NOFA. Some NOFA chapters are deep in analyzing their power and place in being part of creating a more just and equitable food system; other chapters are just getting started. We hope to highlight all the chapters in upcoming issues - stay tuned. Please reach out to your State’s chapter for more information, with
questions or to get involved.
- TNF Editor
In 2018, the NOFA-VT staff and board worked through a strategic planning process that resulted in an updated mission statement. The culmination of that process was the addition of ‘social justice' as one of the three foundational pillars of a thriving future for organic farming. Since that time, NOFA-VT as an organization has been learning, assessing, and deepening our understanding of what it means for our work to add social justice to our mission; “NOFA-VT seeks to be a part of nourishing a healed and thriving food and farming system by employing social justice as the fundamental lens through which we assess, evaluate, and engage in all our work.” In centering social justice, we have developed and continue to develop policies, practices, programmatic changes, and culture that support our amended mission.
In an effort to provide baseline anti-racism education to our staff, all new staff members participate in the Uprooting Racism Training offered by Soul Fire
Farm. While this training touches on many aspects of justice work in addition to anti-racism, including (but not limited to) accessibility and anti-classism, we do not currently have regularly scheduled staff trainings on other justice topics. In the past we held a regular open meeting with an anti-racism consultant, and now provide the opportunity for staff to meet the consultant at any time to help work through obstacles as they arise. Additionally, while all staff are called to center social justice in their work, as is laid out in our mission, we also have a staff Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Committee that is dedicated to identifying opportunities to increase the positive impact of NOFA-VT’s workplace, programs and resources. The JEDI team recently completed an evaluation of our organization on Soul Fire Farm’s rubric assessing where we fall on a scale of complicity to dismantling racism. We will now build a plan to shift in key ways revealed by that process.
We are continually revisiting policies and program models through the lens of social justice. This has looked like explicit policies directly targeted at dismantling an oppressive system, or nuance woven into the fabric of a program or offer. Currently,
we offer free registration for our Winter Conference and our on-farm workshops for anyone who identifies as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color
We recently piloted a new participatory grantmaking model to award our annual Resilience Grants to local farmers. The recipients of the grant were chosen by a committee comprised of a diverse group of local farmworkers and farmers in an effort to move away from a gatekeeping grant model and towards a participatory, democratic one. Additionally, we worked to increase our funding for our food equity
programs this year, which has allowed us to more robustly meet the increasing local demand. We know our policies and programs will change as we continue to work to understand how whiteness has excluded People of Color and other people with marginalized identities from participating in NOFA- VT’s community and/or benefiting from the organic movement. In 2021 we released a “Statement of Intention on Social Justice”, a document outlining NOFA-VT’s relationship with and commitment to justice work. That document is available to the public on our website at nofavt.org/statement-intention-social-justice, and we welcome feedback through a form on that webpage at any time.
NOFA New Hampshire
“NOFA-NH is committed to creating an inclusive culture where all forms of diversity are seen and valued within our organization and the greater organic agriculture community. As farmers, gardeners and eaters, NOFA-NH recognizes that modern American agriculture was founded on structural racism and inequality and that there is much work to be done to address generations of injustice experienced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, LGBTQ+ individuals, disabled individuals, incarcerated individuals, economically disadvantaged individuals, women, veterans, and any other marginalized groups.
“With a mission of helping people build sustainable, healthy food systems for healthy communities, NOFA-NH is committed to advocating for farmers and farmworkers, food justice, environmental justice, and racial justice as part of building a truly sustainable agricultural sector in New Hampshire and beyond.”
The above is an excerpt from NOFA-NH’s Diver sity, Equity, and Inclusion statement published in 2020, the entirety of which is located at www.nofanh.org/dei. NOFA-NH established a DEI Committee the same year: a group of staff, board members, and volunteers that help guide this work. NOFA-NH members are invited to join the Committee and can contact Operations Manager Nikki Kolb to learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff meets to discuss DEI weekly as part of regularly held staff meetings. DEI Committee meetings are held quarterly.
NOFA-NH endeavors to incorporate justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion into all facets of our work, and has outlined concrete goals in our five-year strategic plan to guide this effort. Last year, all staff, Board, and DEI Committee members participated in a “History of Racism in U.S. Agriculture & Organic,” webinar. DEI Committee members participated in the Food Solutions New England 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge in 2021, and all staff participated in the Challenge in 2022.
NOFA-NH has also been an active member of the NH Food Alliance’s Racial Equity Team since its inception in 2020, and participates in regional NOFA meetings focused on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. In addition to sharing racial equity resources on social media and in our e-newsletters, NOFA-NH developed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Agriculture resources webpage in 2021. We continue to seek diverse farmers and speakers to lead and host our educational programs, and to present at educational events. To remove barriers to participation in our programs, we developed a low-cost scholarship membership level, and continue to incorporate low- and no-cost ticket options into all our programming. In 2022, we revised our mission statement to reflect our commitment to helping people building local, just, and sustainable food systems. We continue to evaluate and amend our policies and procedures through an inclusive and anti-racist lens.
Currently, we are examining how to deepen our commitment to racial and cultural equity and justice, including honest work around examining whiteness and dismantling systems of white supremacy that are part of many dominant systems, including food systems.
NOFA/Mass acknowledges that the foundation of “modern organic agriculture”, like agriculture itself, is rooted in the long-standing cultural practices within communities of Indigenous people, People of Color, and immigrants. Additionally, we recognize
the connections between systems of oppression. We acknowledge that the US was built on stolen land and that the food system was built on the stolen
labor of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and other People of Color.
A comprehensive vision of agricultural justice for our communities must involve working toward racial, economic, and gender equality. We affirm
that racial equity, including an understanding and acknowledgment of historical and ongoing racial inequities, requires a commitment to actions challenging those inequities. Our ongoing workaround for racial and cultural equity is a core tenet of our
organization’s outlook and will inform its structure, analysis, and policy development and advocacy process.
Our full Racial Equity statement is available at: nofamass.org/nofamass-working-racial-equity-statement/
NOFA/Mass staff and several board members have participated in a weekly Dismantling Racism series, facilitated by our Equity Co-Director Ulum Pixan
Athoh’il, since September 2021. In addition, we hosted consultants from Partnership in Practice at our past two board and staff retreats, giving our full team the opportunity to deepen our shared understanding of the impacts of racism in our own lives and in our organization. Most recently, NOFA/Mass benefitted from participating in the Food Solutions New England 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building
Challenge. Over the past several months, Executive Director, Jocelyn Langer, has participated in three DEI trainings for organic professionals hosted by the Organic Farming Association. Equity Co-Directors Anna Gilbert-Muhammad and Ulum Pixan
Athoh’il, along with board members Jen Salinetti and Meryl LaTronica, are participating in the Anti-Oppression Resource and Training Alliance’s Confluence series, a 4-month-long program designed to build knowledge and practical application of anti-oppression principles in an organization.
NOFA/Mass will be offering several upcoming training sessions relating to racial equity. Topics will include Intro to Racial Equity in the Food System; Racial Equity and Organic Certification; and Best
Practices for Language Justice. Dates will be released soon, and workshops will be open to the public. Contact email@example.com for details.