Resources for Black Allyship
As an organic vegetable delivery scheme, our work is inextricably tied to the land. While we have alway been careful to work with small scale farmers who practice regenerative agriculture, there are still issues surrounding who owns the land and who’s excluded or exploited by it. If we look at the origins of our global food system, we’ll find a production line stretching back to colonial times which has relied on oppression, exploitation and, all too often, a violent appropriation of land rights and indigenous knowledge.
The terrible death of George Floyd gave renewed momentum to the Black Lives Matter movement, shining a light once more on the systemic and institutional racism that still pervades society. And our own sector, though it is full of very kind, caring and liberal-minded people, is still very white.
If we are to have better representation then we must address the deep seated racial inequalities within our own sector. BIPOC (Black, Indigenous & People of Colour) voices from the local food and sustainable farming community have been boldly speaking up to share their experiences and help us see the covert racism that can so easily go unnoticed and unchecked. Not everyone will be aware that finding solace in nature isn’t so easy for those who have been made to feel unwelcome in its grasp; that BAME people are less likely to visit nature, more likely to suffer from food insecurity, are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 or bearing the brunt of the effects of climate change.
While our focus has always been on environmental sustainability, it's becoming more and more apparent that we cannot achieve ecological healing without social healing. If we are to create a truly fair, sustainable and healthy food system we have to bring everyone along with us.
Over the last month we have been listening, researching and discussing the role we can play to ensure there’s greater diversity throughout our supply chain. Ultimately, we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and all those working to dismantle the discriminatory systems that uphold racism.
What follows is a list of local and global initiatives, podcasts, books and articles we hope will provide an educational basis for further anti-racist action.
- We’re fortunate to share our Wolves Lane hub with Black Rootz, a project which grew as a response to the lack of black-led growers groups in the UK. This multigenerational group encourages older generations to share their growing knowledge so that younger generations are able to plant a sustainable future for themselves. The project is the brainchild of the Ubele Initiative, a social enterprise which is also campaigning for an independent public inquiry into the disproportionate deaths of Black people from Covid-19.
- Self proclaimed “good food action-ist” Dee Woods is a leading voice in the food justice farming movement. The award-winning cook is also co-founder of Granville Community Kitchen in South Kilburn and co-editor of A People’s Food Policy, which sets out a bold vision for a fairer food system.
- Eco activist Green Girl Leah is spearheading the intersectional environmentalist movement, which she describes as “an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet... It brings injustices done to the most vulnerable communities, and the earth, to the forefront and does not minimize or silence social inequality.” Sign up to the pledge and share it far and wide.
- Fatima Ibrahim is the co-director of the Green New Deal here in the UK, which sets out a plan to decarbonise the economy and put a stopper on climate breakdown while lifting people out of insecurity and poverty.
- Former Growing Communities trainee and organic grower Claire Ratinon, has spoken movingly about her experience working as a grower of colour in a mostly white horticultural world on both social media and in her newsletter What A Time To Have A Garden. This blog post from Ratinon is essential reading.
- In the UK, ‘BAME’ communities are 60% less likely to be able to access green space. Land in Our Names (LION) is a new collective aiming to disrupt this narrative by securing land for BPOC (Black people and People of Colour) communities. LION co-founder Josina Calliste is definitely worth a follow.
- To fill your home with plants and flowers and support Black-owned businesses in the process, we’d suggest checking out East Sussex-based Aweside Farm for organically grown cut flowers and Prick LDN for all your cacti and succulent needs.
- As well as listening, sharing and engaging with the amazing initiatives listed here, consider donating to the Black Land & Spatial Justice Fundraiser or the Black Lives Matters UK Fundraiser, so they can continue to tackle inequality on a societal level.
- Lend your ears to the multitude of voices behind regenerative farming by tuning in to Farmerama Radio. Start with this far reaching episode which encompasses land ownership reform, food justice and the healing properties of nature.
- Educate yourself on the incredible but often-overlooked contributions of Black leaders working in the realms of ecology, conservation, outdoor-based learning and environmental justice by listening to Black Nature Narratives. This vital podcast is the brainchild of London-based non-profit Wild in the City.
- For the Wild weaves together stories of revolution and resistance via in-depth conversations with lesser known thought leaders working in the realms of philosophy, science, conservation, activism and others.
Please consider purchasing books from your local Black bookshop. The UK Black Writers Forum has compiled a list here.
- Our botanical gardens might be beautiful to look at but the history behind how they got to these shores certainly isn’t. Unearth the colonial past behind them in Science and Colonial Expansion: The Role of the British Royal Botanic Gardens by Lucile H. Brockway. And read this article by Alexandre Antonelli, head of science at Kew Gardens which calls for the decolonisation of our botanical collections.
- For a lyrical look at the land through the lens of African American poets, read Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry. Editor Camille T. Dungy has selected 180 poems which bring fresh perspectives to the nature writing genre.
- The first read on Jessica J. Lee’s #AlliesInTheLandscape book club is Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape by Lauret Savoy. Savoy travels the path of her ancestors uncovering the stories that have shaped the landscape but were, all too often, violently erased from it.
- Diversify your meal times with Community Comfort: Recipes from the Diaspora. Not only is it full of delicious dishes and food-related stories from 100 People Of Colour, but sales of the book will contribute towards the Majonzi COVID-19 Bereavement fund. The fund helps to support families of those affected by the coronavirus pandemic within the BAME community.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and we’d love to hear from you if there’s a cause or campaign you’d like to share with us or if you have any thoughts or suggestions on better allyship. For further reading, we highly recommend checking out the Climate Reframe Project, which is doing amazing work to amplify the voices of BAME climate activists in the UK.
Written by Kyra Hanson