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 systemically marginalized within 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.
  • Oct 2021: Angel Beyde joined the EFAO staff team as Equity and Organizational Change Manager.
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.
  • Dec 2021: Post conference we will be planning updates to our Action plan for 2022, incorporating community feedback.
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 that was attended by approximately 40 participants.

  • Dec 2020: A survey was shared with members of EFAO’s BIPOC Farmers Network, to better understand farming experiences, interests, challenges and needs. A summary of key feedback shared can be found here.
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.
  •  Jan – Nov 2021: EFAO’s print publication featured the stories, insights and expertise of eight BIPOC contributors over the course of four issues (minimum two per issue).
  •  Jan – 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.
  • Nov – Dec 2021: The 2021 EFAO Conference features 16 inspiring BIPOC presenters, 26% of total presenters.
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.
  • Nov 2021: EFAO put out a call for new board members that prioritizes applications from equity-deserving groups. New board members will be elected at the April 2022 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.
  • Sept 2021: A fourth meet-up was held Sept 29.
  • Nov 2021: Our 2nd annual BIPOC farmer conference meetup is November 29!
Commit to ongoing staff and board training in anti-racism.
  • Jan to Nov 2021: Staff have been reading and discussing the book Farming While Black by Leah Penniman, as well as sharing other racial justice books, articles and other resources.
  • Oct 2021: The EFAO staff team participated in a Indigenous Cultural Competency Training over 2 days with Michael Etherington.
Offer and encourage anti-racism training for members.
  • Nov 2021: We are planning a monthly Farming for Justice webinar series starting in Winter 2022 that will be informed by the Anti-Racism and Equity Community Conversation that is taking place at the 2021 EFAO Conference.
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 35 responses from EFAO members and non-members to date. A summary of key feedback shared can be found here.
  • 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. Initial findings were shared in the print publication. A full report will be prepared for the April 2022 AGM.
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.
  • Nov 2021: EFAO received many inspiring applications to join a BIPOC Equity and Accountability Committee. EFAO has decided to wait and launch this Committee once there is representation from BIPOC individuals on the Board of Directors (see call for new Board members), who would be able to participate on this committee and bring the committee’s perspective directly back to the EFAO Board of Directors.
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.
  • July 2021: EFAO staff were honoured to be invited to present about EFAO’s work at three recent regional Agricultural Round Tables held by the Anishinabek Nation. A few follow-up conversations were had with Indigenous members of the Anishinabek nation to explore opportunities for collaboration.

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, Equity & Organizational Change Manager, 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 Anti-Racism and Equity Work

Highlights from EFAO’s BIPOC Survey Findings

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

Terminology

Equity, diversity and inclusion are important ideas.

For the purposes of this work, we understand the terms to mean:

  • Equity describes a degree of fairness in terms of access to the industry and possibility to succeed within the industry.
  • Inclusion describes the degree to which new entrants of diverse backgrounds have an opportunity to enter and succeed in the sector.
  • Diversity is a measure of past success or failure in inclusion.

We also acknowledge that we are all coming to these conversations from a different place.

Here is a list of terms used throughout EFAO’s website and other communications. If there is a word or term you are unfamiliar with, please let us know and we will be happy to provide an explanation or add it to this list:

Equity deserving farmers represents farmers who identify as young, women, people with disabilities, Black, Indigenous, people of colour, 2SLGBTQ+, new Canadians and/or small-scale farmers.

2SLGBTQ+ is an acronym representing Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and gender diverse people.

BIPOC is an acronym representing Black, Indigenous and people of colour.

Indigenous in this context represents First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples, as well as Indigenous Peoples from other lands.

Indigenous farmers and food providers acknowledges Indigenous Peoples as stewards of the land who do not necessarily farm.

Young farmers represent youth between 18-30 years of age.

New Canadian farmers represent people who are new to Canada and who are farming.

Barriers to enter and succeed can represent systemic, economic, historic, social, and cultural barriers.