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We developed out of a series of Farmer listening sessions in 2018 and 2019 about what farmers needed to increase local food purchasing at public schools and other institutions. In the discussions we named the glaring racial disparities in access to land, technical assistance, capital resources and infrastructure in the state and the necessity for racial equity in our agricultural policy and grassroots organizing. In February of 2020 over 45 of us urban, rural and suburban farmers and gardeners came together from Minnesota and Wisconsin at our first big gathering, the Racial Justice & Farm Policy Convening, to talk about farmer-led policy and the need for us to have spaces to organize socially, economically, and politically.
We ate together and shared our organizing strategies and ideas. We welcomed farmer activists from the California Farmer Justice Collaborative, to speak about their work on the California Farmer Equity Act of 2017. We had a mini issue caucus and generated a list of organizing priorities and some initial ideas to help incubate and grow our collective.
COVID-19 hit in March, which drastically changed our options for coming together. But we were determined and with a volunteer Coordinating Team, and many one to ones, we began building a network and started a few initial projects to work together.