Food for the Spirit Helps to Convene the Juneteenth Ag Pavilion

Food for the Spirit has supported Buffalo’s Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion since the pavilion’s inception. The first Juneteenth festival was held in Buffalo in 1976 and it has now grown into one of the largest celebrations of Juneteenth in the country to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. The Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion was introduced as part of the Juneteenth Celebration in Buffalo in 2019 with the purpose to provide hands-on educational presentations and demonstrations related to agricultural history; as well as resources and education related to current practices and careers in agriculture.

Food for the Spirit’s Buffalo Food Equity Network members and partners have shared space at the pavilion and provided one-stop access to resources and information for festival-goers. Activities at the pavilion included a children’s shoe box garden project, plant seedling giveaways, gardens-in-a-bag and food demonstrations. There was a video booth set-up by the WNY Food Stories Project, Emergency Food Storage consultations by Ms. Della Miller, and a beautiful exhibit by UB Food Lab students highlighting the work being done by Black women leadership in Buffalo’s food system.

Jaime Swygert, Chair of the Buffalo Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion, with her father

Support from Food for the Spirit has allowed the Ag Pavilion’s founder and chair, Jaime Swygert, to execute a vision and create a space where Black and brown people could convene and gather community resources, historical education, access career information, and learn about food equity, justice, and policy-advocacy efforts.

2022 marked the festival’s return to in-person celebration, after some virtual holdings due the pandemic. In 2020 and 2021, even while the festival was virtual, Buffalo Food Equity Network members continued to support the Pavilion; members held plant seedling giveaways and curated exhibits to commemorate the Juneteenth holiday. This support enabled the Juneteenth Ag Pavilion to continue distributing information and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Written by Jaime Swygert, Chair of the Buffalo Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion, September 2022.

Support Black Farmers in the Genesee Valley of New York State

Western New York and Southern Tier Black farmers are looking for your support!

According to the 2017 USDA Agricultural Census there are only 139 Black farmers in NYS, compared to 57,000 white farmers statewide, and Black farmers make just $1 for every $5 a white farmer makes.

“Farming is big business in New York State — a $42 billion industry on which every other sector relies. Yet black farmers’ contributions in New York are often undercounted, overlooked, and undervalued, to the detriment of the health and prosperity of black communities statewide.”

– from Black Farmers United NYS

For these reasons and more, Food for the Spirit has been supporting Black farmers in New York State since 2019 through education, outreach, advocacy, and support for the development of networks and cooperative systems.

In 2021, we established the Genesee Valley Black Farmers Collective Marketing Project, a collective marketing project to serve Black farmers in the nine counties in the Genesee Valley of New York State. We engaged local farmers in the project and enlisted marketing and design support from Buffalo-based artist and food entrepreneur Alexa Joan Wajed of Eat Off Art.

Linked below are the Farmers Portraits created by Eat Off Art. Visit them to get to know each of the farmers and learn how you can support them:

Alison Espinosa of Rootworkers Croft

  • Allison is seeking venues (both virtual and in-person) with public school students and families in Rochester to share her expertise about farming and animal husbandry, as well as clients for farming, gardening, livestock husbandry, and herbalism.
  • Check out Alison’s Farmer Portrait at: bit.ly/GVBlackFarmer_AlisonEspinosa
  • Alison can be reached by email at rootworkerscroft (@) gmail.com.

Wil Moss, Jr. of Moss Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

  • Wil is seeking support with transportation and distribution to get their farm products to additional markets, and looking for support with equipment and labor to plant, cultivate, harvest, and take product to market.
  • Check out Wil’s Farmer Portrait at: bit.ly/GVBlackFarmer_MossFarm.
  • Email Wil Moss, Jr. at wemossjr (@) hotmail.com.

Pamela ReeseSmith of Harlem Brood Teas

  • Pamela is looking for venues (both virtual and in-person) to teach and educate underserved communities urban farming, growing herbs and vegetables, as well as clients who wish to consult with her around her expertise.
  • Check out Pamela’s Farmer Portrait at: bit.ly/GVBlackFarmer_PamelaReeseSmith.
  • You can reach Pamela on her business phone at: (585) 404-3885.

Through our collective efforts, we envision farmers of color coming together to learn from each other, share resources, and offer each other support in mutually-beneficial forums. We hope you will support us in bringing about this vision.

You can support our efforts through a donation or grant made to Food for the Spirit. To support the Genesee Valley Black Farmers Project and related efforts, contact Rebekah (@) foodforthespirit.org.

More ways to engage:

Learn about Eat Off Art at www.eatoffart.com.

This project was made possible through a grant from the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority and the NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets.

Portraits of Black Farmers

On March 23rd, 2022, Food for the Spirit hosted a virtual event Portraits of Black Farmers; Creating Space & Encouraging Support for Black Farmers in the Genesee Valley.

CLICK HERE to get to know the participating farmers.

Watch our event video below to learn about Food for the Spirit’s Genesee Valley Black Farmers Marketing Project and meet the participating farmers from the western Finger Lakes Region of New York State.

The Genesee Valley Black Farmers Marketing Project was carried out in collaboration with Eat Off Art, and was made possible with the support of the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority and the New York State Department of Ag & Markets.

Soil Builders | Intercambio de Historias // Story-Sharing Event

This event was interpreted simultaneously from English to Spanish / Este evento fue interpretado simultáneamente del inglés al español.

The event was hosted virtually on Zoom on February 24th, 2022, from 6-7:30pm // El evento se celebró virtualmente en Zoom el 24 de febrero de 2022, de 6-7:30pm.

Are you a BIPOC grower or farmer? // ¿Eres cultivadore o agricultore negre, indigena o de raza marginada?

Do you have a story to tell about your growing experience? // ¿Tienes una historia que contar sobre tu experiencia de cultivo?

Soil Builders was a virtual evening of story sharing about your experiences as land-stewards, growers, gardeners, and farmers. // Soil Builders fue una noche virtual para compartir historias sobre tu experiencia como guardián de la tierra, cultivadore, jardinere y agricultore.

This event included time to:

  1. Workshop and share a personal story in a majority BIPOC space;
  2. Gain skills to help craft stories that can be used in legislative testimony; and
  3. Learn how personal narrative can shape the future of NY State and Federal policy.

Este evento incluyó tiempo para:

  1. Desarrollar y compartir una historia personal en un espacio donde la mayoría de personas son gente negra, indigena y de raza marginada;
  2. Aprender habilidades para ayudar a elaborar historias que puedan ser utilizadas en el testimonio legislativo; y
  3. Aprender cómo la narrativa personal puede dar forma al futuro de la política estatal de Nueva York y al nivel federal.

For more information or to learn more about Soil Builders, email Rebekah (@) foodforthespirit.org // Para más información o para saber más sobre Soil Builders, envíe un correo electrónico Rebekah (@) foodforthespirit.org.

The event was hosted by a collective of individuals working in the agricultural field in New York State who are committed to supporting Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) farmers seeking access to institutional markets through the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) // El evento fue organizado por un colectivo de personas que trabajan en el campo de la agricultura en el Estado de Nueva York y que están comprometidos con el apoyo a los agricultores negros, indígenas y personas de color (BIPOC) que buscan acceso a los mercados institucionales a través del Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP).

Learn about the collective who hosted the event at: https://bit.ly/NYSBIPOCFarmerSupport_AboutUs

Conozca el colectivo que acogió el evento en: https://bit.ly/NYSBIPOCFarmerSupport_Nosotres