Coordinating Team

We are food activists with a passion for the food system and racial justice. We are all currently volunteers to this cause and hope that we are serving our fellow farmers and friends with new opportunities and seats at old tables...

Vera Allen - Midwest Farmers of Color Collective

Vera Allen

Vera F. Allen is a Black Navajo mother, partner, organizer, and farmer, who moonlights as a media and food system activist. She spends her time on issues affecting Indigenous peoples and all of our food. Although, she has been a grower for most of her life, it was the Youth Farm and Market Project of Minneapolis that opened her world to food activism. Serving as the market coordinator and being guardian to a garden sewn by kids was a once in a lifetime experience that influences the work Vera chooses to do everyday. Vera is working on food policy projects, a food fellowship, and continues to look for ways to serve BIPOC people in the quest for land rematriation and food autonomy. 

Vera's family owns a tree farm in Laporte, MN where she hopes to share land and time with new BIPOC growers looking to reconnect with old traditions and new techniques for food security and economic resilience. Ever the student of justice, Vera organizes toward a future of racial equity in farming and food.

 

Sophia Benrud - Midwest Farmers of Color

Sophia Benrud

Sophia Benrud is a Black multiracial queer community organizer, postpartum doula and chef currently residing in Minneapolis, MN. Sophia is the environmental justice organizer and cofounder of  Black Visions a Black led Queer and Trans centering organization committed to strengthening community and community led safely —building connections between BIPOC climate and environmental, food, and healing justice. Sophia is committed to transforming the current movement by centering communities directly impacted by these issues while building stronger movements to break down systemic violence; and a co-founder of Divine Natural Ancestry, a project of 2 seasons that supports community through tools, supplies and knowledge for growing food in BIPOC communities. Sophia is a board member of Spiral Collective an organization supporting people in reproduction, abortion and loss.  During the past two summers Sophia has facilitated youth projects and programs focused on environmental justice through the sierra student coalition.

 

 Michael Cheney - Midwest Farmers of Color Coalition

Michael Cheney

As an activist, youth advocate, organizer, and cultural artist I have dedicated most of my adult life to implementing transformative initiatives and educational programming that provide real solutions to real problems for real people.  
What started as a catchy jingo grew into a social justice movement, grew into an initiative promoting educational reform, grew into an afterschool community education program, grew into an emerging nonprofit that supports the development of youth and families in educational initiatives centered around horticulture, entrepreneurship, marketing and promotions, "Project Sweetie Pie" continues to plant the “seeds of change’. In 2010 when North High was under siege by the public school administrators that were elected to lead it, Project Sweetie Pie was born. We started as an act of social justice and social protest to save North High from the proposed threat of closure. We have grown into a progressive non-profit that serves as an incubator of sustainable thought and action centered on horticulture, urban farming, and green business creation Contrary to public opinion, we have seen the “green movement” steadily grow and continue to thrive in north Minneapolis. More importantly we have  played a key role in growing and providing the leadership and the vision for the movement.  Our mission is to inform, infuse, inspire, and instruct. "Project Sweetie Pie"- Breaking stereotypes, giving voice to the voiceless, transforming communities historically socially engineered to be consumers we continue to lead the way.  "Project Sweetie Pie" the story of a city that came together-worked together on a common goal, for the common good of the youth and families of it's community. For it takes a village to raise a child.

 

Zoe Hollomon - Midwest Farmers of Color Coalition

Zoe Hollomon

Zoe has been a community and food justice organizer for over 18 years.  She started her food justice work in Buffalo, NY working with youth to grow food, build relationships between farmers and urban communities, and impact decision-making in food, farming and health related policy.  Since coming to Minnesota, she has worked with many food justice and farming organizations in North and South Minneapolis, Rondo, Frogtown, among others. She helped found the Good Food Purchasing Twin Cities Coalition in 2017 and led that coalition in changing Minneapolis Public School District food purchasing practices to better support health and nutrition, fair labor, environmental sustainability, local economy, and humane treatment of animals.  
Zoe is the MN State Organizing Director for the Pesticide Action Network, and works with farmers, scientists and grassroots groups to address racial inequities and pesticide related harm inflicted by our food system and corporate agriculture.  Zoe is part of the Black Liberation and Abolitionist Cohort (BLAC) and works with other black organizers in MN to abolish institutions that threaten black lives and develop systems that honor them. Zoe was a Green For All Fellow in 2011, she has served on the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Policy Council, and does consulting in Racial Equity in Food Systems. Zoe received her B.S. in Urban & Regional Planning from Cornell University in 2001 and an M.S. from Southern New Hampshire University in Community Economic Development in 2007.

 

Hindolo Pokawa - Midwest Farmers of Color Collective

Hindolo Pokawa

As a child in Sierra Leone, Hindolo Pokawa experienced the brutal violence, economic destruction, and social disintegration of civil war. After finishing high school as an adult in Zimbabwe, where he fled once the war escalated, he later entered the United States on a student visa and earned his undergraduate degree in Political Science and Global Studies, with a Minor in African-African American Studies, focusing on Peace and Governance. He later earned his Master’s of Liberal Studies, for which he focused on literacy and land use in mining communities in rural African communities. As the Founder and Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Foundation for New Democracy, Hindolo’s role has been to build local communities’ capacity to see themselves as part of the solution to problems they face—producers of knowledge and agents of change. Hindolo is a farmer, bringing communities together to grow food, regenerate soil resilience and advance economic policies to address racial inequality in communities.