Seeding Resilience; A Coordinated Response to Food Security During COVID-19

“Seeding Resilience’s rapid yet deliberate response is made possible due to pre-existing networks in the community, such as the Buffalo Food Equity Network (BFEN), a movement of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).” – Dr. Samina Raja, PhD

In 2020, a coalition of over 160 individuals and organizations came together through weekly meetings and coordinated action to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in Buffalo. The coalition was called Seeding Resilience and it included growers, emergency food providers, bicycle couriers, food system planners, food justice advocates, researchers, and others.

Dr. Samina Raja, University at Buffalo’s Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab founder and Buffalo Food Equity Network member, wrote an article about the coalition. In the article, she outlines Seeding Resilience’s three-pronged strategy to: (1) rapidly redistribute food to neighborhoods in need; (2) increase food production in the city; and (3) increase employment opportunities.

Raja wrote: “To address the acute crisis, food is being procured from local and/or minority-owned wholesalers and/or farmers. Food is being distributed by Feed Buffalo, an emergency food pantry that intentionally serves healthy and halal food with dignity. Food is being transported by bicycle couriers and volunteer drivers to anyone who requests it, while offering vegan, organic, and halal food. For a more equitable recovery, the coalition is increasing food production city-wide through a network of backyard/frontyard Freedom Gardens, a term coined by Gail Wells, a longtime food justice advocate. Led by a partnership of Food for the Spirit, an emerging organization committed to cultivating spaces for racial healing, ecological justice, and equitable food systems, and Grassroots Gardens of Western New York, a not-for profit organization that supports community gardens, the new Freedom Gardens both respond to the present crisis and seed a more equitable future by giving city residents greater control over their own means of food production.”

She continued: “Seeding Resilience’s rapid yet deliberate response is made possible due to pre-existing networks in the community, such as the Buffalo Food Equity Network (BFEN), a movement of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).”

Throughout 2020 and 2021, a group of BFEN members and allies served as the Seeding Resilience facilitation and organizing team. That group included: Bethany Ortquist, Bianca Davis, Cameron Herman, Della Miller, Donna Latham-Edwards, Gail Wells, Hope Isom, Jared Strohl, Kelsey Gosch, Kyliel Thompson, Rebekah Williams, Samina Raja, Sashti Balasundaram, Silver Light, and William Gonzalez.

To read the entire article, click here to read it online or click here to download it as a pdf document.

We’re Recruiting! Food For the Spirit Invites Black Farmers in the Genesee Valley Region to Participate in a Collective Marketing Campaign

This Fall 2021, Food for the Spirit is recruiting five Black farmers in the Genesee Valley Region to develop a collective marketing campaign for their farms and farm products.

We want to let the world know about the beautiful work Black farmers are doing in this region and connect the farmers with new values aligned markets and consumers for greater prosperity!

Why collective marketing?

Throughout history, marginalized people have found power in coming together in collective action. This means sharing resources and knowledge, amplifying each other’s work, and finding what we have in common in a world that makes us feel apart.

Why the Genesee Valley Region?

First, big thanks to the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority and New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets who are supporting this project. Second, we want to make sure the work Black farmers are doing in this part of New York State is seen, recognized, and connected to resources.

Is this for me?

You are eligible to participate if you identify as Black (from African American ancestry) and either farm or sell your products within any of these nine counties of the Genesee Valley Region: Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates.

How can I get involved?

Contact Emilie Miyauchi at emilie (@) foodforthespirit.org for more information and to get involved.

More details about the opportunity, commitments, and benefits can also be found in this one pager. Click through to get the details.

Food for the Spirit Hiring Support for Black Farmers in NYS

Food for the Spirit is supporting the formation of a NYS Black Farmer Marketing Co-op. In conjunction with that project, we are excited to announce that we are seeking a Communications and Marketing Consultant to work with us this growing season to build community and collective marketing strategies with Black farmers in the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region located in west-central New York State. The person hired for this position will take the lead on creating a visual campaign that provides fresh insight into the experience of Black farmers in the region and connects those farmers to values aligned consumers and markets.

See the Request for Proposal (RFP) online here and share it across your networks. The deadline to apply is Friday, May 21st.

View the RFP for more details on the position and how to apply.

Barriers for Black Farmers’ Success

Photo Credit: Moss Family Fruits & Veggies, Albion NY

Author: Emilie Miyauchi

Co-ops have a long history of facilitating power for rural farmers in the Southern US and globally, but never took deep root in New York State (NYS). It’s past time, and in this era of isolation and crisis of democracy Food for the Spirit is supporting the formation and development of a Black farmer co-op for New York State.

A steering committee composed of NYS Black farmers and stakeholders working to secure food and land sovereignty for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) farmers, met to discuss how a co-op might meaningfully address organizing and infrastructure gaps that have been barriers to Black farmers success.

With only 139 Black farmers of the 57,000 NYS farmers accounted for by the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture, the steering committee found consensus around the idea of expanding those farmers’ visibility by way of umbrella marketing under a unique brand. 

The next stages of this cooperative project will see through the work of knitting together values, purpose and identity by marketing together. It’s early, but the vision for what can come of this has been brightening the winter.

For more information or to inquire about getting involved, email Rebekah@foodforthespirit.org.