Articles, Blog

Farm to Coop to Table: Food Justice in Urban Agriculture

August 26, 2019


>>WHERE IT GROWS AND WHERE IT GOES, THIS WEEK OUR TOPIC IS FOOD AS IT MATTERS TO OUR BODIES AND TO OUR COMMUNITIES. I’LL TALK WITH FARMERS AND CITY DESIGNERS WHO ARE CREATING EQUITABLE FOOD SYSTEMS AND HEAR ABOUT THE FIGHTS THAT ARE BREWING OVER URBAN LAND AND AGRICULTURE. THAT’S ALL COMING UP ON THE LAURA FLANDERS SHOW, THE PLACE WHERE THE PEOPLE WHO SAY IT CAN’T BE DONE TAKE A BACKSEAT TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE DOING IT. WELCOME. ♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪>>FARM TO TABLE, THAT’S THE TREND FOR FOODIES WANTING THEIR PLATES TO BE MORE ETHICAL. NEW YORK IS ALSO DEALING WITH HUNGER. AT LAST COUNT, ONE IN EIGHT NEW YORKERS SUFFER FROM FOOD INSECURITY, BUT WHAT DOES AN ETHICAL APPROACH TO FOOD IN THE CITY LOOK LIKE? AND WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO SUPPORT THAT CONCEPT AT EVERY LEVEL? IN A CITY WHERE LAND IS SCARCE AND BOTH COMMUNITY GARDENS AND COMMERCIAL FARMING PROJECTS WANT IT, PUBLIC POLICY IS NEEDED. BUT THE LAST BILL ADVANCED HERE FAILED, SO TODAY WE’RE GOING TO CONSIDER THE ELEMENTS OF COMPREHENSIVE URBAN AGRICULTURE POLICY AND PRACTICE, AND ASK HOW PEOPLE WITH DIFFERENT STAKES IN A BETTER FOOD SYSTEM MIGHT COLLABORATE, HERE AND AROUND THE COUNTRY, TO MAKE THE LAWS WE NEED. JOINING ME ARE KAREN WASHINGTON, LONGTIME AGRICULTURE ACTIVIST AND CO-OWNER OF RISE & ROOT FARM, YSANET BATISTA, CO-FOUNDER OF WOKE FOODS COOPERATIVE, ABOUT WHICH WE’LL HEAR MORE, AND SUSAN CHIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE DESIGN TRUST, WHICH WAS FOUNDED TO BRING DESIGN AND URBAN PLANNING TOGETHER. WELCOME ALL, IT IS JUST FANTASTIC TO HAVE YOU WITH US. LET’S START WITH YOU EACH TELLING US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR PROJECTS. I PROMISED MORE ON WOKE FOODS. WHAT IS IT YSANET?>>YES, WOKE FOODS IS A WORKER OWNED COOPERATIVE THAT FOCUSES ON PLANT BASED DOMINICAN AND AFRO CARIBBEAN FOODS, AND WE DO THAT THROUGH CATERING, COOKING CLASSES, AND BOTH FOOD JUSTICE AND SOVEREIGNTY WORKSHOPS. PRIMARILY FOCUSED IN THE SOUTH BRONX AND NORTHERN MANHATTAN.>>AND DO YOU GROW HERE TOO?>>WE DON’T GROW FOOD BUT WE DO SOURCE FROM URBAN FARMS LIKE NEW ROOTS AND KELLY STREET COMMUNITY GARDEN.>>WHAT ABOUT YOU KAREN, WHAT WOULD WE FIND IF WE CAME TO YOUR FARM?>>WELL, YOU’LL FIND FOUR WOMEN WORKING REALLY HARD DILIGENTLY WITH OUR HANDS. WE HAVE A THREE-ACRE FARM UP IN CHESTER, NEW YORK, WHICH IS AN HOUR AND 15 MINUTES FROM THE BRONX AND WE’VE TAKEN OUR PRACTICES FROM URBAN GARDENING IN NEW YORK CITY UP TO CHESTER. SO WE SAID WE TRADE IN OUR METRO CARS FOR TRACTORS.>>[LAUGHTER] AND SUSAN, NOT SO LONG AGO, THE DESIGN TRUST ACTUALLY DID A SURVEY OF HOW MANY GARDENS AND FARMS, ETC. ARE IN NEW YORK, AND I THINK THE NUMBERS WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE. WHAT DID YOU FIND?>>THERE WERE OVER 900 FARMS AND GARDENS THAT PRODUCED FOOD. I MEAN, OTHER ONES PRODUCED FLOWERS AND OTHER PLANTS, BUT THERE ARE VARIOUS COMMUNITY FARMS, COMMUNITY GARDENS, COMMERCIAL FARMS, ALL DOING WHAT WE KNOW THROUGHOUT ALL FIVE BOROUGHS AS URBAN AGRICULTURE.>>AND YET WE STILL HAVE THIS HUNGER PROBLEM. KAREN WASHINGTON, YOU PURSUE THE TWO CONNECTED AS A FOOD JUSTICE ISSUE. HOW DO YOU SEE IT?>>DEFINITELY, BECAUSE WE LIVE IN THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, BUT YET AND WE GROW ENOUGH FOOD AND WE WASTE ENOUGH FOOD. THE PROBLEM IS THE FOOD GETTING INTO THE PEOPLE THAT NEED IT THE MOST.>>WE DID A PIECE NOT SO LONG AGO IN 2015 I THINK IT WAS ABOUT SOUL FIRE FARM, UPSTATE NOT FAR FROM IN ALBANY COUNTY. HERE’S JUST A CLIP OF THAT REPORT.>>[LAUGHTER]>>WHEN WE STARTED OUT AS A FAMILY FARM, WE KNEW THAT WE WANTED TO GROW FOOD FOR OUR NEIGHBORS. WE WERE LIVING IN THE SOUTH END OF ALBANY, WHICH IS UST IN TERMS OF FOOD DOZEN NEIGHBORHOOD. WE PREFER TO TALK ABOUT WE’RE APARTHEID BECAUSE DESERTS ARE NATURAL PHENOMENON, AND RECENTLY OUR FOOD SYSTEM IS VERY UNNATURAL. WE’RE TALKING TO NEIGHBORS ABOUT GETTING A LOT OF ENCOURAGEMENT TO START A FARM AND THEN TO DO DOORSTEP DELIVERY IN THAT NEIGHBORHOOD, SO THAT’S HOW IT STARTED. THERE WAS DEMAND FOR TRAINING PROGRAMS THAT WERE CULTURALLY SENSITIVE FOR BLACK AND LATINO FOLKS, SO WE DEVELOPED THAT. I FEEL LIKE WE’RE VERY MUCH IN CONVERSATION WITH THE MOVEMENT AND IN CONVERSATION WITH OUR COMMUNITY.>>AND THAT WAS LEAH PENNIMAN YOU SAW THERE, SHE’S JUST OUT WITH A BOOK THAT YOU WROTE THE FORWARD TO.>>YES, FARMING WHILE BLACK, WHICH WILL BE IN STORES PRETTY SOON, BUT IT WILL BE THE HANDBOOK FOR EVERY YOUNG FARMER IN AMERICA.>>HOW SO? WHY?>>WELL, BECAUSE SHE TALKS ABOUT THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF FARMING. WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE WORD AGRICULTURE, WHAT’S MISSING TIME AND TIME AGAIN IS CULTURE, SO SHE REINFORCES CULTURE BOTH HER HISTORICAL CULTURAL BUT ALSO PEOPLE OF COLOR. AND THEN SHE WEAVES IN STORIES AND SHE WEAVES IN PRACTICAL IDEAS ON HOW TO FARM WHICH IS REALLY, REALLY GOOD AS WELL AS RECIPES. I’M VERY, VERY HONORED TO DO THE FORWARD. AND LEAH, YOU DID WELL.>>[LAUGHTER] THE CULTURE PIECE YOU WORK WITH TOO, YOU WORK ON THAT ISSUE AS WELL. HOW DO YOU SEE CULTURE COMING INTO OUR ORGANIZING AROUND MAKING CHANGE IN THIS AREA OF FOOD JUSTICE?>>LIKE LEAH MENTIONED, THERE IS A NEED FOR A CULTURALLY RELEVANT AND SENSITIVE FARMS AND INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGE WHICH IS NOT BEING PROVIDED TO ESPECIALLY LOW INCOME COMMUNITIES, AND I FELT THAT IT WAS IMPORTANT TO BRING IN CULTURE, SPECIFICALLY MY CULTURE, SPECIFICALLY THE CULTURES OF THE PEOPLE IN MY COMMUNITY, WHICH ARE AGAIN SOUTH BRONX AND UPTOWN MANHATTAN, AND THERE IS A VARIETY OF AFRO CARIBBEAN PEOPLE THERE THAT ARE WANTING TO BE CLOSER TO THEIR FOODS AND ARE WANTING THEIR FOODS TO BE FRESH. SO THAT’S HOW CONNECTING THE CATERING AND THE COOKING CLASSES TO FARMS THAT ARE BEING RAN BY PEOPLE OF COLOR THAT ARE GROWING A LOT OF THE FOODS THAT WE ARE USED TO BACK IN OUR HOME COUNTRY. IT FEELS VERY IMPORTANT AND FEELS NEEDED FOR US TO BE ABLE TO EAT HEALTHY AND FEEL THAT OUR FOODS ARE FROM OUR PEOPLE.>>SO THIS IS ONE PART OF THE AGRICULTURE PICTURE HERE IN NEW YORK, AND IF YOU WATCHED OUR PROGRAM YOU MIGHT THINK THAT’S THE ONLY PART OF THE AGRICULTURE SCENE. BUT THERE’S ALSO A WHOLE OTHER SET OF PEOPLE WITH AN INTEREST IN AGRICULTURE, URBAN AGRICULTURE POLICY. SUSAN, COULD YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT SOME OF THE OTHERS WHO ARE OUT THERE, THESE VERTICAL FARMERS, THESE VENTURE CAPITAL BACKED COMMERCIAL INTERESTS? I MEAN, THERE’S ANOTHER SIDE OF FARMING I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT.>>RIGHT, I THINK YOU HEAR ABOUT HOW DO WE REUSE A LOT OF OUR BUILDINGS IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS, AND SO PEOPLE ARE TURNING TO AQUAPONICS AND HYDROPONICS. SO THINKING ABOUT VERTICAL FARMING. NOT TOO FAR FROM US, THERE’S FARM CALLED FARM ONE. MANY OF THESE FARMERS ARE GROWING GOURMET GREENS TO SUPPLY TO VARIOUS RESTAURANTS. NOT THAT KAREN DOESN’T GROW GOURMET GREENS AS WELL, OR SOME FOLKS WHO ARE ON ROOFTOP FARMS, AND THAT PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR LOCAL PRODUCTION. I THINK THAT MANY OF OUR, SIMILAR TO WHAT YSANET IS DOING WITH A COLLECTIVE, AND KAREN, THAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR LOCAL AND FRESH. SO I THINK SIMILARLY, CHEFS, CELEBRITY CHEFS, ARE LOOKING AT INVESTING. THERE WAS THE SUPERMARKETS WHO ARE ALSO LOOKING TO GROW THEIR GREENS AND OTHER THINGS VERY CLOSE TO THE SUPPLY, RIGHT, SO THAT YOU’RE NOT SHIPPING AND SPENDING A LOT OF MONEY ON HOW LONG IT TAKES TO COME TO MARKET. EVERYONE IS LOOKING FOR A NEW OPPORTUNITY.>>WE SAW THE LAST PIECE OF LEGISLATION AROUND URBAN AG POLICY GO DOWN TO DEFEAT OR MOST OF IT GO DOWN TO DEFEAT. I DON’T WANT TO MAKE THIS TOO NEW YORK FOCUSED, BECAUSE THIS IS A NATIONAL SHOW, BUT IT REVEALED THE CHALLENGES OVER THE POLICY IN NEW YORK, REVEALED SOME OF THE FISSURES IN THE COMMUNITY AROUND FOOD. HOW DO YOU MAKE SENSE OF WHAT’S AT STAKE RIGHT NOW AND HOW DO WE RESOLVE IT? AND THEN I’D LOVE TO GET THE SENSE FROM ALL OF YOU ABOUT WHAT A COMPREHENSIVE AG POLICY FOR THE CITY WOULD REALLY LOOK LIKE?>>WELL, I THINK WHEN MAYOR BLOOMBERG WAS IN OFFICE HE HAD TALKED ABOUT A 2030 POLICY, AND THE FACT IS THAT WE’RE LOOKING AT ANOTHER MILLION MORE PEOPLE THAT WILL BE COMING INTO URBAN AREAS BY 2030, AND SO THERE’S GOING TO BE –>>WAIT, SAY THAT AGAIN.>>ANOTHER MILLION PEOPLE.>>ANOTHER MILLION PEOPLE MOVING INTO THIS CITY?>>YEAH, YEAH, BUT IT’S HAPPENING ALL OVER IN MAJOR CITIES, PEOPLE ARE MOVING INTO URBAN AREAS. SO THERE’S ALWAYS A NEED FOR DEVELOPMENT, DEVELOPMENT VERSUS OPEN SPACE. SO HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE TWO? SO HERE IN NEW YORK, WE HAVE THIS DILEMMA BECAUSE URBAN AGRICULTURE NOW IS AT THE FOREFRONT. THEY KNOW THAT IT’S NECESSARY FOR PEOPLE TO TALK ABOUT FOOD IN A WAY THAT IS ACCESSIBLE. SO WHAT THE BILL HAS TO MAKE SURE IS THAT WE’RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT URBAN AGRICULTURE IN TERMS OF AN ECONOMY, THEN WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT THE OUTLETS IS OPEN FOR EVERYONE, AND THAT BIG PEOPLE WITH BIG POCKETS AND BIG INFLUENCE ARE NOT GOING TO COME IN AND PUSH THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN DOING IT FOR SO LONG AS A SURVIVAL MECHANISM, BEING PUSHED TO THE SIDE.>>BECAUSE YOU TWO ARE BEING VERY POLITE, BUT LET’S BE FRANK HERE. PEOPLE LIKE YOURSELVES, ALL THREE OF YOU, YOU AND YSANET ARE ESPECIALLY INVOLVED IN CREATING THE DEMAND FOR FOOD THAT’S LOCAL AND HEALTHY AND REGIONALLY SOURCED AND CULTURALLY SENSITIVE. AND THEN SUDDENLY THE SUPERMARKETS COME IN AND SAY, “WE CAN PROVIDE THAT WITH SOME BIG DOLLAR BUSINESSES,” AND THEN YOU ARE FIGHTING FOR LAND. IS THAT WHAT’S HAPPENING OUT THERE?>>WELL, THINK ABOUT IT, I DON’T THINK IT’S THE SUPERMARKETS BECAUSE THE SUPERMARKETS ARE ONLY GOING TO COME INTO OUR NEIGHBORHOODS IF THEY CAN MAKE MONEY. SO WHAT WE’RE SEEING IS THAT THERE ARE BIOTECH COMPANIES AND NUANCES THAT ARE COMING IN AND SAYING THAT THEY CAN GROW THE FOOD FOR THE MASSES. WHAT THAT IS IS NOT TYPICALLY FOOD THAT WILL REALLY SUFFICE IN LOW INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS, IT’S REALLY HIGH-END FOOD. WHAT THE BOTTOM LINE IS, IS THAT THERE IS ROOM FOR EVERYBODY.>>SO HOW DO WE MAKE THERE BE ROOM FOR EVERYBODY YSANET?>>WELL, THERE NEEDS TO BE LAND THAT IS ALSO ACCESSIBLE AND AFFORDABLE TO LOW INCOME PEOPLE. WOKE FOODS IS ONLY A CATERING COMPANY RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I CANNOT IMAGINE HOW I WOULD BUY MY OWN RESTAURANTS AND WHO WOULD BE ABLE TO BUY THEIR OWN RESTAURANT, OUR TOP CHEFS BACKED BY INVESTORS. MOST OF THESE TOP CHEFS DON’T SHARE MY CULTURAL BACKGROUND, BUT THEY CAN VERY EASILY COME BUY PROPERTY, BUY A RESTAURANT, AND MAKE THIS A FARM TO TABLE AND MAKE IT REALLY CUTE AND CATCHY. AND THEN TAKE FOODS FROM DIFFERENT CULTURES AND MAKE TOP DOLLARS. THEN A BUSINESS LIKE MINE HAS TO STAY IN A COMMERCIAL KITCHEN BECAUSE WE CAN’T AFFORD TO REALLY EXPAND OUR BUSINESS. SO WE HAVE REALLY GREAT IDEAS, NOT ONLY GREAT IDEAS, BUT THAT ARE INTERSECTIONAL WITH ALL THESE THINGS THAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT ON RACE AND GENDER AND SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS, BUT WE DO NOT HAVE THE FINANCIAL BACK UP. BECAUSE OF THE RACIAL WEALTH GAP, I DON’T KNOW IF I WILL BE ABLE TO EVER ACCESS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO BUY A STOREFRONT.>>SO WHAT DOES THE CITY DO? YOU’VE BEEN IN THIS SITUATION BEFORE, WHAT DO YOU, IN YOUR DREAMS, WHAT DOES THE BEST CITY POLICY LOOK LIKE?>>THERE’S A COMPREHENSIVE URBAN AGRICULTURE PLAN, WHICH WAS PROPOSED BY COUNCIL MEMBER ESPINAL BACKED WITH BOROUGH PRESIDENT ADAMS. SO NOT ONLY LOOKING AT LOCAL FARMS AND GARDENS, BUT ALSO HOW DO YOU EMPOWER AND MAKE THE LEGISLATORS AND THE REST OF THE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE CROSS-CUTTING NATURE OF URBAN AGRICULTURE? SO IT’S ABOUT HEALTH METRICS, IT’S ABOUT NOT JUST LOCAL FOOD AND HEALTHY FOOD. LAURA, HOW MANY DIFFERENT COLORED VEGETABLES DID YOU EAT TODAY?>>EXACTLY.>>FIVE MAYBE, NO, ONE MORE LIKE IT. THE SOCIAL NETWORK, RIGHT, SO HOW DO YOU BUILD SOCIAL CAPITAL? AND ALSO WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, AND ALSO ABOUT SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT. IT’S ABOUT CLEAN WATER, CAPTURING RAINWATER, REUSE OF AND REPURPOSING OF FOOD WASTE AND COMPOST, AND IT’S ONE OF OUR BIGGEST EXPORT PRODUCTS. HOW DO WE BRING SOME OF THOSE, MIX UP ALL OF THOSE THINGS TO BRING THEM BACK, AND IT’S VERY COMPLEX AND MESSY. SO NONE OF THE LEGISLATORS OR THE PUBLIC REALLY WANT TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH THAT.>>SO THAT’S WHAT DESIGN COMES TO.>>AND THEN YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT ACCESS TO CAPITAL, RIGHT?>>BECAUSE I HAVE ALL THOSE IDEAS AND HAVE SO MANY FRIENDS THAT ARE IN THOSE SECTORS, BUT WE ARE ALL LOW INCOME PEOPLE THAT DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO CAPITAL TO BRING THOSE IDEAS.>>SO WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES DESIGN MAKE?>>WELL, WE ARE THINKING ABOUT NOT ONLY THIS NETWORK OF LAND, BUT DESIGNING SYSTEMS THAT CONNECT ALL OF THESE AREAS THAT URBAN AGRICULTURE IS A BENEFIT TO. IS IT ABOUT THE SOCIAL RESILIENCE THAT YOU KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOR AND YOU’RE ABLE TO, IF THERE’S A DISASTER, THAT YOU’RE ABLE TO JUST CONTACT THEM VERY QUICKLY AND SAY, “HEY, ARE YOU OKAY LAURA, I KNOW THAT YOU’RE THERE.” AND THEN ALSO DESIGNING, WELL, I DON’T KNOW HOW YOU THINK ABOUT DATA COLLECTION, BUT DESIGNING A SYSTEM FOR COLLECTING DATA THAT PEOPLE REALLY NEED TO GIVE THEM A VOICE.>>AND MAYBE ALSO ABOUT REIMAGINING, TO SOME EXTENT, OUR CITIES. I THINK WHEN YOU THINK NEW YORK A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK CONCRETE AND GLASS, HIGH TECH, YOU HEAR THE MAYORS TALK ABOUT TECH JOBS. I’M HEARING YOU SAY WE NEED TO HAVE MUCH MORE GREEN, AND NOT JUST RECREATIONAL GREEN, BUT GREEN THAT CAN FEED US GREEN IN OUR IMAGE OF THE CITY.>>YES, FOR SURE, THERE IS SO MANY POSSIBILITIES THAT DON’T HAVE TO BE SO FOCUSED ON TECHNOLOGY. I MEAN, TECHNOLOGY DEFINITELY AIDS US, BUT THERE CAN BE FARM TO TABLE RESTAURANTS RAN BY PEOPLE FROM THOSE COMMUNITIES. RESTAURANTS THAT ARE NOT UPPING THE RENT ON THAT NEIGHBORHOOD AND ARE REALLY ADDING VALUE TO THE PEOPLE VERSUS ADDING VALUE MONEY WISE TO SOMEONE’S RENT.>>KAREN, YOU’RE BUSY ON THE FARM GROWING STUFF. WHAT DO YOU DO, ACTIVISM WISE, HOW DO YOU ALSO DO THIS WORK AND HOW DO YOU PRIORITIZE?>>SO I HAVE A FARM UPSTATE, BUT I LIVE IN THE BRONX, I’M STILL PART OF MY COMMUNITY GARDEN. SO WHAT I TRY TO DO IS JUST TALK ABOUT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. I LIVE IN A LOW INCOME NEIGHBORHOOD, AND I WANT PEOPLE TO CHANGE THE LENS ON HOW THEY LOOK AT PEOPLE IN TERMS OF POOR PEOPLE. I HATE TO USE THAT WORD POOR, BECAUSE WE ARE STRONG PEOPLE, WE ARE STRONG PEOPLE, AND WE DON’T WANT A HANDOUT. WE WANT TO HAND IN, AND I TELL PEOPLE, SHARE YOUR RESOURCES. I WAKE UP EVERY DAY THINKING THAT ONE DAY THAT MY COMMUNITY WOULD HAVE RESOURCES SO THAT THEY CAN OWN THEIR OWN BUSINESSES. IF THEY OWN THEIR OWN BUSINESSES, THEN THEY CAN OPEN RESTAURANTS, SEND THEIR KIDS TO GOOD SCHOOLS, HAVE HOUSING, AND SO WE NEED TO GET THIS MECHANISM THAT POOR PEOPLE NEED TO BE SUPPLIED THROUGH A CHARITY TYPE OF FOOD SYSTEM THAT WE HAVE IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD. FORGET ABOUT THE CHARITIES FOOD SYSTEM, BRING IN RESOURCES, BRING IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP, BRING IN FINANCIAL LITERACY, THIS IS WHAT WE NEED IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS.>>SO NO TO SNAP, NO TO FOOD STAMPS?>>NO, BECAUSE THEY’RE FOR EMERGENCY PURPOSES, BUT THEY’RE NOT A WAY OF LIFE FOR PEOPLE. WHEN PEOPLE COME INTO MY NEIGHBORHOOD, I DON’T WANT PEOPLE WHO SAY THAT THEY NEED A JOB, WELL, LET ME SIGN YOU UP FOR SNAP, LET ME SHOW YOU WHERE THE NEAREST FOOD PANTRY IS. I WANT THEM TO SAY, “YOU KNOW WHAT, I GOT SOMEONE THAT CAN BACK YOUR BUSINESS, I’VE GOT CAPITAL THAT CAN COME IN TO START A BUSINESS. I HAVE FINANCIAL LITERACY SO I CAN TEACH YOU HOW TO SAVE, HOW TO END CREDIT.” THOSE ARE THE CONVERSATIONS THAT WE NEED TO HAVE IN OUR COMMUNITY, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT, IT IS ABOUT POWER. IT’S GIVING PEOPLE WHO ARE DEEMED POWERLESS TO BECOME POWERFUL. IF YOU COME INTO MY NEIGHBORHOOD AND YOU GIVE US OUR RESOURCE AND YOU GIVE US MONEY, GIVE US BACKING, YOU’LL SEE HOW POWERFUL WE BECOME.>>BUT HOW DO YOU DO IT UP AGAINST THE CITY IN A SITUATION WHERE YOU HAVE BIG DOLLAR LOBBYISTS COMING IN? THIS LEGISLATION IS THAT WE’RE NOT GOING TO GET ANOTHER CHANCE AT IT HERE IN NEW YORK, RIGHT? AT THIS COMPREHENSIVE AGRICULTURAL POLICY, WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN DIFFERENTLY TO GET IT PASSED THIS TIME?>>PEOPLE NEED TO BE MORE VOCAL. I THINK BECAUSE WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT AGRICULTURE, IT GOES THROUGH SO MANY DIFFERENT SECTORS. WHEN PEOPLE THINK WHAT AGRICULTURE, THEY THINK ABOUT FOOD INTERSECTS ECONOMICS, HOUSING, EDUCATION, THE ENVIRONMENT. SO WE NEED TO GET MORE PEOPLE ON BOARD IN THE CONVERSATION AROUND FOOD, AND NOT JUST TALK JUST TO FOODIES.>>SUSAN, YOU WANT TO ADD ANYTHING TO THAT?>>I TOTALLY RESONATE WITH KAREN, BUT AT THE SAME TIME IT’S ABOUT ORGANIZING AND ACTIVISM AND I ADMIRE THAT YSANET’S GIVING A VOICE TO THE DOMINICAN COMMUNITY AND KAREN HAS TOO. SHE STARTED WITH US IN 2009, AND SO IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME. BUT REALLY ORGANIZING THE COMMUNITY SO THAT YOU’RE HEARING ALL THE DIFFERENT VOICES. WE HAD AN URBAN AGRICULTURE TASK FORCE WHEN WE FIRST DID OUR STUDY THAT WAS THE FIVE BOROUGH FARM PROJECT AND IT WAS REVEALED IN 2012. BUT ALSO HAVING FUNDERS, HAVING ELECTED OFFICIALS, HAVING ALL THOSE DIFFERENT CITY AGENCIES FROM SANITATION TO HEALTH TO PARKS AND ALL OF THEM TOGETHER SOLVING THE PROBLEMS SO THAT WE CAN COME OUT WITH BETTER SOLUTIONS.>>IS THERE A ROLE FOR TECH, MEANING VIRTUAL, DIGITAL TYPE TECH, IN A SITUATION WHERE ONE OF THE DEMANDS THAT THE BIG COMMERCIAL PRODUCERS SAY THEY’RE MEETING IS THE ABILITY TO GET STUFF WHERE IT’S NEEDED AT A REASONABLE PRICE FAST. COULD TECH INTERVENE TO HELP SOME OF THE MORE GRASSROOTS FARMS GET THEIR PRODUCTS TO WHERE THEY’RE NEEDED AT A REASONABLE PRICE FAST?>>I THINK SO, BUT AT THE SAME TIME, AS KAREN WAS SAYING, OUR HUMAN NATURE TENDS TO THEY MOVE IN TO THIS PLACE AND THEN THEY SAY, “HEY, WE’RE THE BE ALL AND END ALL.”>>BUT WE’VE HAD A CONVERSATION WITH TECH PEOPLE, BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY WE ALL NEED A PLACE. WE TALKED ABOUT HOW WE CAN SHARE A COMMERCIAL KITCHEN, HOW WE CAN SHARE REFRIGERATION, HOW THEY CAN SHARE DATA. SO THERE’S THINGS THAT WE CAN WORK TOGETHER TO MOVE URBAN AGRICULTURE TO THE NEXT STRATOSPHERE, BECAUSE IT’S COMING. YOU’RE SEEING IT NOT ONLY IN NEW YORK CITY, BUT YOU’RE SEEING IT IN CITIES LIKE DETROIT, IN OAKLAND, IN PHILADELPHIA. THESE ARE URBAN AREAS THAT ARE NOW FOCUSING ON URBAN AGRICULTURE. SO HOW CAN WE WORK TOGETHER? BECAUSE THE BOTTOM LINE, WHAT WE ALL NEED IS FOOD.>>WE NEED CATERING. I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW MANY EVENTS I’VE CATERED IN NEW YORK, INCLUDING BY THE CITY AND WE JUST DID A PIECE ABOUT PRESTON, A TOWN IN LANCASTER, ENGLAND, WHERE THE CITY IS GOING INTO A RELATIONSHIP WITH A LOCAL CO-OP TO PROVIDE THE CATERING, A CATERING CO-OP. CAN YOU SEE THAT ON THE HORIZON? YOU CATERING IN GRACIE MANSION OR SOMETHING?>>YES, FOR SURE. WE WERE ABLE TO BE AT GRACIE MANSION, THEY WERE NOT ABLE TO PAY US. [LAUGHTER]>>HELLO?>>IT WAS THE EXPOSURE. WHEN WE ARE APPROACHED ABOUT FREE EVENTS, I HATE TO HAVE TO SAY NO BECAUSE I DO EMPLOY NEWLY IMMIGRANT DOMINICAN WOMEN, AND NOW I STARTED EMPLOYING A WOMAN THAT JUST CAME OUT OF RIKERS. I NEED TO PROVIDE MONEY FOR MY WORKERS.>>YEAH, YOUR GRACIE MANSION.>>YES, AND SO YEAH, I THINK PEOPLE NEED TO BACK US UP, SMALLER CATERING COMPANIES SO THAT WE CAN BE ABLE TO ACHIEVE BETTER THINGS. ALSO, I AM SOURCING FOOD FROM LOCAL FARMS AND GARDENS, SO IT IS A SYSTEM THAT WE HAVE GOING ON THAT’S REALLY BEAUTIFUL AND GREAT AND SMALL AND LOCAL THAT CAN BE BIGGER IF WE ARE SUPPORTED.>>WHO WANTS TO SPEAK TO THIS ISSUE OF FOOD APARTHEID, AND THIS FACT OF THIS BEING DESIGN, NOT JUST OVERSIGHT? BECAUSE IF WHAT YOU’RE SAYING IS TRUE AND IS WHAT LEAH SAID, THERE IS ALSO SOME INTENTIONALITY TO THE CHALLENGES THAT PEOPLE LIKE YOURSELVES ARE FACING. WHO WANTS TO SPEAK TO THAT? HOW DO YOU UNRAVEL THAT?>>SO I COINED THE TERM FOOD APARTHEID BECAUSE I HAD BEEN LOOKING AT THE WORD FOOD DESERT AND I’M SAYING, “WAIT A SECOND, I’M LIVING IN A NEIGHBORHOOD AND AN OUTSIDE PERSON OR GROUP OF PEOPLE ARE CALLING MY NEIGHBORHOOD FOOD DESERT.” NUMBER ONE, PEOPLE IN THE DESERT WILL TELL YOU THEY HAVE FOOD. NUMBER TWO, IT’S NOT THE LACK OF FOOD, WE DO HAVE FOOD. WE DON’T HAVE HEALTHY FOOD OPTIONS AND CHOICES. THEN BRINGING IN THE APARTHEID, YOU’RE LOOKING AT THE FOOD SYSTEM THAT FALLS ALONG RACE, ECONOMICS, AND GEOGRAPHY. AND THEN YOU START HAVING A REAL CONVERSATION WHEN YOU SAY FOOD APARTHEID, WHICH GETS TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER, WHICH AGAIN FALLS ALONG RACE. PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE, THEY DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE ECONOMICS, THEY DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT URBAN OR RURAL, BUT WHEN YOU SAY APARTHEID YOU’RE HAVING THAT CONVERSATION THAT WE HAVE A FULL SYSTEM THAT STILL CATERS TO THE HAVES AND HAVE NOTS. SO HOW DO WE BREAK IT DOWN TO MAKE SURE THAT FOOD IS A RIGHT FOR ALL AND NOT A PRIVILEGE FOR SOME.>>YEAH, I MEAN I’M SHOCKED BY THESE STATISTICS. EVERY YEAR WE DO A PIECE ABOUT THE CONTINUING CRISIS OF HUNGER IN NEW YORK CITY AND IT DOESN’T SEEM TO SHIFT NO MATTER WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING. THIS JUST SEEMS LIKE SUCH AN INTRACTABLE PROBLEM AND YET WE MAY BE ARE IN A MOMENT WHERE WE COULD SEE CHANGES HAPPENING. IS IT HAPPENING IN OTHER CITIES? ARE THERE OTHER MODELS ELSEWHERE THAT ARE WORTH LIFTING UP? DO OTHER CITIES HAVE A COMPREHENSIVE URBAN AGRICULTURE POLICY? YOU JUST GOT BACK FROM L.A. YSANET?>>I REMEMBER THIS ISSUE LIKE COMING UP ALSO LIKE KAREN MENTIONED PEOPLE FROM DETROIT ARE ALSO TRYING TO DO MORE. I DO FEEL LIKE JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI, COOPERATIVE JACKSON, THEY’RE A CITY THAT’S STILL FACING A LOT OF THE ISSUES WE ARE FACING BUT THINGS ARE A LITTLE BIT MORE ACCESSIBLE. SO THE FOLKS IN COOPERATIVE JACKSON HAVE BEEN BUYING LAND, SO I LEARNED THAT AT THE WORKER COOPERATIVE NATIONAL CONFERENCE AND THEN LATER HAPPINESS WEEKENDS. YEAH, THEY’RE BUYING LAND, THEY HAVE PEOPLE FOCUSED ON DIFFERENT THINGS, AND THEY HAVE A BIG GROUP OF FOLKS FOCUSING ON URBAN AGRICULTURE.>>AND THE MAYOR WHO CARES ABOUT THIS STUFF CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE. DOES DE BLASIO CARE, DO YOU KNOW SUSAN?>>HE HAS A FOOD POLICY COORDINATOR, BUT AS I SAID BEFORE, IT’S SO CROSS-CUTTING THAT IT’S REALLY, HOW DO YOU BRING ALL OF THESE DIFFERENT AGENCIES TOGETHER? DEP, SANITATION, PARKS, HEALTH, AND SO I DON’T THINK ANY MAYOR HAS REALLY SOLVED ALL OF THESE CHALLENGES OF BRINGING ALL OF HIS COMMISSIONERS TOGETHER TO SEE THE VALUE OF FARMING AND GARDENING. BECAUSE YOU’RE WEIGHING, LIKE KAREN WAS SAYING, YOU’RE WEIGHING, “OH, THE VALUE OF THAT PIECE OF VACANT, WHAT’S SEEN AS VACANT PROPERTY, BUT HAS BEEN A COMMUNITY GARDEN SINCE THE 1970S,” AGAINST, “OH, LET’S BUILD SOME NEW COMMERCIAL BUILDING OR SOME HOUSING” THERE ARE SO MANY COMPETING NEEDS IN NEW YORK.>>WE HAVE CROSS CUTTING IN LOTS OF DIFFERENT WAYS, WE HAVE LOTS OF DIFFERENT STAKEHOLDERS, WE HAVE A PROBABLY MULTI-STEP PROCESS TO GET WHERE WE WANT TO GO. WHAT CAN PEOPLE DO IF MAYBE THEY’RE JUST FOODIE EATERS WATCHING THE SHOW FOR EXAMPLE?>>I WOULD LOVE PEOPLE TO GO VISIT THEIR NEAREST COMMUNITY GARDEN. WE HAVE SO MANY COMMUNITY GARDENS, OVER 600 COMMUNITY GARDENS, PLUS AN ADDITIONAL 300 SCHOOL GARDENS AND SO WE’RE OUT THERE. COME VISIT THE GARDEN, SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE GROWING, AND THEY’RE NOT ONLY GROWING FOOD, BUT THEY’RE GROWING COMMUNITY AS WELL. I THINK THAT’S IMPORTANT.>>YSANET?>>I’D SAY THE SAME AND WHEN IT’S TIME TO FIGURE OUT WHERE YOU’RE GOING TO SPEND YOUR MONEY, THINK ABOUT IT IN A MORE INTENTIONAL WAY, HOW CAN YOUR FUNNEL YOUR MONEY TOWARDS COMMUNITY GARDENS OR COMMUNITY PROGRAMS OR BUSINESSES THAT HAVE BEEN STARTED BY PEOPLE FROM THE COMMUNITY.>>ANYTHING YOU’D ADD SUSAN?>>BUY LOCAL.>>BUY FROM THE RIGHT PEOPLE LOCAL. THANK YOU BUT ALL THREE, IT WAS REALLY A WONDERFUL CONVERSATION. I LOOK FORWARD TO MORE. YOU’RE WATCHING THE LAURA FLANDERS SHOW, YOU CAN SEE OUR FULL EPISODE ON SOUL FIRE FARM IN OUR ARCHIVES AT LAURAFLANDERS.ORG. THANKS. ♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪

1 Comment

  • Reply Cindy Burton October 9, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    Brilliant! You are the best. Sharing 🌻😊✌️

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