Buffalo Food Equity Network: Introduction & FAQ’s

What is the Buffalo Food Equity Network and who is it for?

Food for the Spirit faciliates the Buffalo Food Equity Network (BFEN), a movement for Western New York’s new food economy led by communities of color, for communities of color.

You can join the network if you identify as a person of color.

What is the new food economy?

That is a great question! And it is a question that we will be answering continually as we learn and grow together…

What we do know (though) is that a new food economy will provide economic benefit around food. Perhaps that economic benefit will take the form of accessing food or growing our own food, offering food-related jobs for our communities, ensuring access to fresh healthy food for all of our communities, building up neighborhood capital and resources around food and food access, and so much more.

We also know that the new food economy will be led by communities of color, directly benefitting our communities.

Who do we mean by “communities of color” and why do we use that language?

The term “communities of color” is sometimes used to describe communities made up of folks who identify as being from Black, Indigenous, Asian, Latinx, Pacific Islander ancestries, and more.

We have used the term “communities of color” to identify communities of people who make up our network because that is language that is being used by many communities across the country who identify in those ways, and across diverse ancestries.

Why should I join the network?

You should join the network if you identify as a person of color and you would like to connect with other people of color throughout Western New York who are engaged in and/or leading food justice projects in their communities. Again, “people of color” is the term we use to describe people of Black (African and African American), Indigenous (Native American), Asian, Middle Eastern, Latinx, and/or Pacific Islander ancestries.

The ways that you can connect with the network are:

  • Join and participate in our listserv.
  • Share information with the listserv.
  • Come to a BFEN potluck or event.
  • Host an event for BFEN.

How can I join the Buffalo Food Equity Network?

To join the network listserv, you can sign yourself up at https://groups.google.com/d/forum/buffalo-food-equity.

You can also request access to the listserv by sending a message to Rebekah (@) foodforthespirit.org with the Subject Line: “Request to join Buffalo Food Equity Network”.

Thank You for Your Support!

Thanks to donations from you (our beloved community), our crew of six artists and food justice activists traveled to Philadelphia PA this past October to lead a workshop entitled “Art & Movement Building: Strategies for Food Systems Change”.  Our workshop took place at the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group’s (NESAWG) It Takes A Region conference.

At the conference, we trained thirty people in arts integration and popular education activities focused around food justice that they can take home and lead in their own communities. We also now have a framework for a workshop that can be led in other communities. Another major outcome of this trip is continued collaboration using the arts to engage Buffalo Public School students in understanding why some of our communities are more disconnected to growing our own food and healthy eating than others.


In addition to our workshop, we were inspired, motivated, and affirmed in our efforts through participating in these additional conference activities:

  • A West Philly Urban Farm Tour and visit to Sankofa Farm;
  • A rally to demand community control of land, led by Soil Generation (a Philadelhpia-based network of black and brown farmers), held at Philadelphia’s City Hall;
  • A workshop on employing the just transition framework in food systems work;
  • A workshop on farmworker activism and laws; and
  • An interactive workshop called “Developing Diverse Friendships” led by to two teenage girls from Buffalo.

NESAWG - 2We look forward to continued efforts to strengthen our regional food system, and welcome your questions, ideas, and expressions of support.  For that, please reach out to Rebekah (@) foodforthespirit.org.

Or for more information about NESAWG’s It Takes A Region conference, visit: http://nesawg.org/conference.

Who is Birch Kinsey?

birch-kinsey.jpgBirch Kinsey agreed to join us for our “Art & Movement Building: Strategies for Food Systems Change” at the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) annual conference in Philly, PA this October, and we need your help to get there.

Click here to help us get to Philly.

Birch’s bio: Birch Kinsey is a Buffalo-based artist and just transition advocate. She is a proud black Muslim who just wants her baby sisters to grow up in a less stressful world. However likely that may be Birch believes you create the world you want to live in and she does that will all her might. After highschool, Birch hopes to travel the world before settling into another 4 year institution.

Click here to learn more about NESAWG and our workshop.

We’re leading an “Arts & Movement Building” workshop in Philly!

Pictured above are five of seven co-presenters who will host our workshop, “Art & Movement Building: Strategies for Food Systems Change”, at the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group’s (NESAWG) annual conference in Philly, PA on October 26, 2018.

We’ve raised $3,500 to get our group to the conference.  Thank you for your support!

We are artists coming together with urban farmers, gardeners, and food systems folks, for a workshop to explore the role of art in the movement towards food justice and equity.  This workshop, “Art & Movement Building: Strategies for Food Systems Change”, will take place at NESAWG’s annual conference in Philly, PA this October.

Our process will be documented on Facebook, from concept, including designing the workshop, to hosting the workshop, and some takeaways from attendees following the conference on October 26 and October 27, 2018.  As NESAWG’s annual It Takes a Region Conference brings together farm and food systems practitioners across the 12-state Northeast region, our workshop co-facilitators will join these folks to look at the trajectory of the food and farm movement and the role each of us can play in shaping its future.

Through this workshop, our team including artists, gardeners, and food systems folks will explore how relationships between food systems actors and artists can be a win-win, and how artists and the arts can be lifted up in food systems efforts.  Several co-facilitators will lead the group in interactive activities and small group conversation to facilitate dialogue and creativity.  Participants will walk away with ideas for the first steps they can take “back home” to engage with arts organizations and support artists in the movement.

Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/food4thespirit/ to follow our progress and get updates from our team, and come join us at the conference in October!

Art is a universal human language and creativity encourages self-reflection, offering people opportunities to share and process the human experience.   Engaging artists, the arts, and creativity into movement work is essential to inciting passion and understanding about food systems and equity issues.

What better place than NESAWG to host our workshop?

NESAWG’s It Takes a Region conference offers in-depth working sessions that tackle important questions about our regional food system and how to strengthen it, drawing from the collective expertise and wisdom of conference attendees.  This year, the theme for the conference is cultivating a transformative food system.

Who are our co-presenters?

Our workshop includes several growers and food systems folks:

Several collaborating artists will participate including:

  • Lorna C. Hill is founder and Artistic Director of Ujima Company, Inc., the oldest professional repertory theatre company in Western New York. –> Learn more about Lorna here.
  • Frederick Wright Jones is a sculptor pushed by responsibility to critically analyze history, national myth, and culture. –> Learn more about Fred here.
  • Erin Sharkey is co-founder/director of an experimental arts production company called Free Black Dirt.  Erin currently explores soil, migration, farming, and astronomy. –> Learn more about Erin here.
  • Paris (PJ) Henderson is a visual artist and storyteller from Buffalo NY. This summer, he traveled to New Orleans LA, to collaborate with GrowOn Urban Farms on resistance arts workshops.  –> Learn more about Paris here.