Anti-Racism in Farming

Agriculture has historically been, and continues to be, rife with systemic racism and inequality. We cannot talk about building resilient ecological farms and communities without paying attention to the systemic racism and oppression that are embedded within Ontario’s agricultural sector, society and the culture within which EFAO operates.

EFAO Board and Staff are committed to increasing their understanding around anti-racism towards Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC), and to better meeting the needs of farmers and members who are currently underrepresented in the organization and the ecological farming movement at large. This is new work for EFAO. We apologize that we are late to begin this work. We recognize that we have a lot to learn and that this must be a long-term and ongoing effort.

EFAO’s progress in meeting its anti-racism and equity goals will be updated on this webpage on the 15th of each month, as a mechanism to stay action-oriented and foster accountability.

2021 Plans and Progress to Date

Hire a BIPOC consultant to help with this work.
  • Nov 2020: We are very excited to be working with Angel Beyde, EFAO Anti-Racism and Equity Consultant, who is supporting EFAO in this work.
  • Dec 2020: We are grateful to also have Amy Cheng working with Angel to support EFAO’s anti-racism and equity work.
Develop an Anti-racism and Equity Action Plan, Statement and Policy, with associated timelines and evaluation plans.
  • Dec 2020: This list of actions was drafted through conversations with staff and board members, in consultation with EFAO’s Anti-racism and Equity Consultant, and presented at the December AGM and BIPOC Meet-up and Consultation for feedback.
  • Feb 2021: This list of actions was updated to incorporate feedback from the BIPOC Farmer Survey, and posted on EFAO’s website with updates on progress to date.
Build relationships with and receive feedback from BIPOC members and farmers, and BIPOC-led organizations.
  • Dec 2020: EFAO held a BIPOC Meet-up & Consultation as part of EFAO’s annual conference. Approximately 40 individuals participated, and many also completed a survey. We will soon summarize and share the incredibly valuable and thoughtful feedback that was provided.
Increase the number of BIPOC speakers at the EFAO conference and events, and BIPOC contributors in the print publication.
  • EFAO staff are working toward a goal of ensuring that at least 25% of EFAO field days are BIPOC-led and at least 25% of conference speakers are BIPOC over the next two years, as well as highlighting at least two BIPOC farmers in each issue of the quarterly publication, Ecological Farming in Ontario.
  •  January – June 2021: EFAO’s print publication featured the stories, insights and expertise of four BIPOC contributors — two per issue.
  •  January – June 2021: Eight BIPOC farmers have hosted (or are scheduled to host) events as part of the Ignatius New Farmer Training Program, a joint initiative between EFAO, Ignatius, and Everdale.
Ensure that there are Black, Indigenous and people of colour on the EFAO board, and nurture a board culture that is open and welcoming. Develop a more inclusive and open board recruitment process.
  • June 2021: We are working on a call for new board members for this coming fall. Board members are elected annually at EFAO’s AGM.
Form a BIPOC Farmer Network, facilitate regular meet-ups in 2021, and develop a map to foster connections between farmers.
  • Feb 2021: A second BIPOC meet-up was held on March 1st where we identified and collected topics of interest for the coming year and discussed the role of a new EFAO BIPOC Equity and Accountability Committee.
  • June 2021: A map of BIPOC farmers and farm businesses has been developed and shared with the BIPOC Farmers Network for feedback.

  • July 2021: A third BIPOC meet-up was held on July 5th.
Commit to ongoing staff and board training in anti-racism.
  • January to June 2021: Staff have been reading and discussing the book Farming While Black by Leah Penniman.
  • July 2021: EFAO’s new Events & Resources Manager is helping to plan some fall board and staff anti-racism training opportunities.
Offer and encourage anti-racism training for members.
  • July 2021: We are planning a monthly Farming for Justice webinar series starting this fall.
Survey and better understand member demographics to help inform EFAO’s work and assess progress.
  • Dec 2020 – July 2021: In addition to the general member survey, a separate and more detailed BIPOC farmer survey was created and distributed that has elicited 34 responses from EFAO members and non-members to date.
  • May 2021: EFAO developed and distributed its first annual member survey which included responses from 276 members (40% of EFAO’s membership); including 24 responses from members who identify as BIPOC. We will be sharing survey findings over the coming months.
Develop a BIPOC Farmer Advisory Committee and an Anti-Racism and Equity Committee, to help guide this work.
  • June 2021: Through conversations with BIPOC members, staff and board members; and inspired by the Groundswell Centre for Local Food & Farming; we have decided to form a BIPOC Equity and Accountability Committee. A Terms of Reference has been developed with feedback from the BIPOC Farmers Network and a call for members will take place in mid-July.
  • July 2021: The BIPOC Equity and Accountability Committee Terms of Reference was created, and a call for applications to participate in the committee was shared through EFAO’s communications channels.
Develop a racially just hiring policy.
  • Spring 2021: EFAO staff worked on an equity statement to include in all job postings – “EFAO is committed to upholding the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion. In pursuit of these values, EFAO actively encourages applications from members of groups experiencing barriers to equity, such as BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+.”
  • July 2021: Our goal is to review our Policy and Procedure Manuals this summer to bring an equity lens to our various policies and procedures, and to develop a racially just hiring process.  
Identify BIPOC-led organizations and initiatives that EFAO can support, ally and engage with.
  • Spring 2021: EFAO has been in conversation with FoodShare to learn from their anti-racism policies and organizational practices.

Are you a racialized farmer?

 

Want to learn more?

If you have questions about EFAO’s anti-racism work, please reach out to Angel Beyde, Anti-Racism and Equity Consultant, or Ali English, Executive Director.

Anti-Racism Resources

Below are some resources that EFAO members, board and staff have found helpful and inspiring. Please get in touch  if you have resources that you would like to recommend.

 

EFAO Resources

Working for Racial Justice in Farming: Panel Discussion Recording

At EFAO’s 2020 Virtual Conference, several racialized farmers and farming leaders discussed how racism and systemic racism affects Black, Indigenous and other farmers of colour. In this inspiring conversation, we heard about steps we can take together for racial justice within the ecological farming movement.

EFAO’s Land Acknowledgement

 

Other Resources

Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land

Sundance Harvest Farm: Learning Resources 

Centre for Community Organizations: White Supremacy Culture in Organizations

The National Young Farmers Coalition (USA): Young Farmers Racial Equity Toolkit

Toronto Urban Growers:

Anti-Racism in Farmers Markets: A Toolkit

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