This past weekend Iron Street Farm in Southside Chicago hosted Growing Food in Justice’s (GFIJ) annual conference aimed at dismantling racism and empowering low-income and communities of color through sustainable and local agriculture. I was able to attend this years gathering and bring back to the Gateway Greening team new strategies to engage our communities in sustainable ways.
Iron Street Farm is in affiliation with Growing Power. Growing Power is a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities. Growing Power implements this mission by providing hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner.
Growing Power and Gateway Greening have very similar missions and its always exciting to see what others in our field are doing. There is so much to be learned from them and vice versa that it only made sense to attend. I was able to sit in on many discussions/speaker series such as “Just Labor within the Food Justice Movement?” “Tools for Community Engagement in Seeking USDA Funding”, and “Environmental Justice 101”. Attendees also got to hear “Women in Action” and Will Allen – founder of Growing Power, speak to the group about the work they have been doing this past year and where they would like to see this movement go. In addition to all these amazing seminars and speakers we also got 3 meals a day provided with produce from the farm. Including a formal sit down dinner and less formal BBQ. Members of Iron Street Farms Youth Corps a program very similar to GG’s Dig It program assisted staff. I am so grateful to having been able to attend this years gathering and look forward to next year. Check out these amazing organizations websites to learn more:
Val Lovasz – Food Distribution Coordinator