Working Racial Equity Statement

August 2019

Through education and advocacy NOFA/Mass promotes agriculture to expand the production and availability of nutritious food from living soil for the health of individuals, communities and the planet.

hands on logCurrently, 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 further acknowledges that the foundation of “modern organic agriculture”, and 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 towards racial, economic, and gender equality.  We affirm that racial equity, including an understanding and acknowledgement of historical and ongoing racial inequities, requires a commitment to actions challenging those inequities.  Our ongoing work around 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.

Because of our commitment to a racially just and equitable food and farming system, we are working strategically and collaboratively to:

  • Advocate for agricultural policies that ensure fairness and equal access for all farmers.
  • Build pathways to increase participation and leadership with diverse constituencies in our organization, and to amplify the voices of diverse participants within the broader agricultural movement.
  • Actively challenge policies that perpetuate systems of oppression and inequities in food production and access in MA.
  • When appropriate, engage in and support the efforts of organizations led by those most affected by food and farm system inequities. Strengthen our role as an effective ally to food justice, farmers/ranchers of color, and farm/ food worker organizations.
  • With other organizations create an ongoing intra-coalition dialogue to explore key concepts including cultural, structural and institutional racism, white privilege and racial equity. Build collaboration, specifically in the context of these issues as they relate to organic food and farming systems.
  • Use both our hearts and our minds when approaching ways of knowing. Honor varied perspectives and knowledge traditions.
  • Recognize that people who are most directly and disproportionately impacted by structural barriers are the best architects of solutions that center their voices, experiences, and leadership within NOFA/Mass.

We recognize that our objectives require ongoing accountability, reflection and action. We also recognize the need for adaptation as we encounter new perspectives and additional information; as such, this is a “living” statement, able to be amended as we gain new understandings. We also know that we are part of a larger network of like-minded organizations and coalitions striving to fulfill the goals of racial equity within the food and farming system. We welcome support for implementation of these goals, and we work collaboratively to address the racial equity issues that most affect farmers, ranchers, workers, and communities.

NOFA/Mass Land Acknowledgement

Please consider making solidarity work with local Black and Indigenous organizations a part of your environmental and land-based work. We owe so much of what we know about how to grow food and manage land in way that is regenerative and ecologically – responsible to the people who were here before colonization as well as those who were stolen from their homelands and brought here as slaves. Rather than erase them, we should honor and support them. Here are some resources for how to get started: 

Learn more about and consider becoming a monthly donor to these local organizations: 

  • Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust, where you can find resources on BIPOC-led efforts to rematriate land into the stewardship of Black, Indigenous and brown farmers.  
  • Eastern Woodlands Rematriation Collectivewho are reclaiming the right to food and relationship to the earth for indigenous peoples by initiating and helping to sustain existing community-led food and medicine projects across tribal communities in the Northeast. 
  • First Lighta bridge between conservation organizations and Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Micmac Communities who seek to expand Wabanaki stewardship of land. Their goal is to expand Wabanaki access and stewardship of land for prosperity and to create a stronger conservation movement that includes and reflects Indigenous expertise and perspective. 

For a broader regional and national selection of projects and resources, please see the Turtle Island Land Rematriation Projects resource. 

Finally, for a history of Black exclusion from land and property ownership, please read The Case For Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and consider including Black land reparations in your activism and giving. Thank you!  

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