Thoughts on Food Justice and Propagation
For the last three weeks I've had the pleasure of taking a Propagation course with Onika Abraham and Molly Culver at Farm School NYC. Aside from the practical application of propagation, the course (as with all classes at Farm School) had its roots in how this particular topic applies to global Food Justice. Our final assignment in the class was a paper on our own personal thoughts about how the two relate, and I thought it may be fun to share.
The Importance of Community in Food Justice
In my extended research on the various aspects of national and global Food Justice movements, one theme keeps popping out at me. Each movement, no matter the size, goal or location is made possible by the community it affects and that supports it. In theory, this seems like a pretty simple view: the power of people to effect social change in their community, and yet why is the importance of Food Justice still a relatively unknown concept to the general public?
I’ll admit, before I started my classes with Farm School, the idea of Food Justice was still very vague to me. I knew about the unjust practices of large seed companies such as Monsanto, and the issues with agricultural labor rights, but I still wasn’t really able to wrap my head around how I could myself, aside from boycotting these companies with evil practices, make a difference in this space. It wasn’t until I started doing research around various community movements, that I realized two things:
- These issues aren’t just at a national or global level. The action of food justice starts at home and in one’s own neighborhood - especially in an urban environment.
- This isn’t a problem that can be solved or even battled without support of a passionate and informed group of people, no matter the size of the issue.
This week I read an article from Landscape Architecture Magazine called “Planting Civil Rights,” and though the article is not directly related to food propagation, reading about Hattie Carthan’s work with the Neighborhood Tree Corps in Brooklyn neighborhoods, specifically Bed-Stuy, really hammered in the importance of building and organizing community around a common social goal. In this specific case, the act of tree propagation not only beautified their neighborhood, but it became of way for this community to have a voice in a growing civil rights movement, and the idea spread to other urban communities not only in the city, but nationwide. (Sidenote: There's also an argument that this beautification project could be directly linked to the gentrification of certain neighborhoods 30-40 years later, but I digress.)
All of this is to say that I now understand the importance of finding that community voice and educating others about food justice issues, not only on a national or global scale, but in local food production. These movements start from individual communities and grow from there. The easiest way to affect change in our own neighborhoods and communities is by being united in a common goal. I used to think that leaving the city was the only way to practice the sustainable lifestyle that I had always aspired to living, but after being a part of Farm School and learning more about Food Justice, I feel empowered to not only continue my education and share it with others, but to take what I’ve learned and become a part of the important movement and community that’s organizing right here in New York.
Photo above was taken at the La Finca del Sur Community Farm in the South Bronx