Our Statement on Human Rights
This is a message from our founder Greg Peterson:
Hello urban farmers,
Standing in a parking lot yesterday I was reminded of this on a billboard…
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” — Desmond Tutu
I can no longer stand on the sidelines and watch this senseless violence happen. My heart is breaking and I have to stand for justice, peace, and respect for people of color in our country!
I have spent my life teaching and sharing how to grow food, because for many decades I have understood the fragility of our very broken and unhealthy food system. And THAT has been so apparent over the past 12 weeks. I have also spent a lot of energy to keep our messages apolitical as I believe being able to eat is a basic human right.
In the past few months the pictures of people lined up for boxes of food and the thought that people are out there starving while we have so much abundance of food greatly saddens me. Topping the last three months off with yet more senseless deaths of people of color further breaks my heart. Be very clear I am not a right leaner or surprisingly not a left leaner. I am in the middle and I believe that we need to come together, learn to respect people’s opinions, and work as a country to solve our problems.
As a bonus every day I get to work with an incredible team here at the Urban Farm and here are our collective thoughts…
To all our community members,
We at The Urban Farm are deeply heartbroken by the deaths of our fellow Americans Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and frankly way too many others. We express our deepest sympathy for everyone who’s hurting and scared, and especially to our communities of color that have been bearing the brunt of systemic racism in our country for hundreds of years.
We cannot in good conscience stay quiet. The Urban Farm is adding our voice to the multitudes across the nation and world who are speaking out and taking action for just and equal treatment for all. We have been thinking long and hard on how to best take a stand and at the same time offer options for action.
As a business, The Urban Farm focuses on food system resilience and education for all. We prefer to avoid entering political conversations because our mission is nonpartisan and should stay that way. However, we strongly believe that human rights transcend politics, and that advocating for the marginalized members of our community is in line with our mission to expand every person’s ability to increase their own food resilience.
The history of farming and agriculture in our country has deep roots in black labor. Today, access to food is still connected to race. Again and again, studies show that communities of color are disproportionately food insecure and have less access to healthy food. This breaks our heart, and we firmly believe that part of helping our community achieve food security is standing up for our members of color.
To our black and brown community members: We see you. We may never fully understand what it’s like to live in your shoes, but we are listening.
To our entire urban farming community: Please, add your voice to the movement to empower access to basic human rights and dignity in America and across the world.
Here’s what WE are doing at this time:
- We regularly support and donate to Tiger Mountain Foundation: a Phoenix-based, black-led community garden nonprofit focusing on teaching gardening skills to people in areas with high rates of incarceration and health issues. In addition to monetary donations, we are also giving Tiger Mountain Foundation 100 tickets to our Great American Seed Up Event in the fall. We have the utmost respect for this organization and can highly recommend donating to them if you are looking for a way to support the black food community at this time.
- We are offering 10 scholarships towards our programs to people of color with financial need. If you would like to take one of our online urban farming courses but have not for monetary reasons, please send us an email at Support@UrbanFarm.org.
- As individuals and as a team, we are: protesting, donating to organizations we believe in, signing petitions, and writing our politicians about police reform and justice for Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd.
(Please note, we are not anti-police, but we recognize that more checks and balances in our police force is an essential step towards more justice for American citizens.)
- We commit to making a greater effort to amplify black voices and food or farming businesses in our community. We have and will continue to highlight our black speakers on food and farming, plus share information on our favorite black-owned businesses.
Suggestions on how YOU can help:
We invite our community to get involved in whatever way feels the most powerful to you. This might mean getting informed through reading books and listening to podcasts on the history of systemic racism in our country. In addition, we have had several amazing guests on The Urban Farm Podcast who are making a difference in their local communities, and we invite you to listen to those episodes (listed below). If you have the means, we highly suggest donating to organizations that YOU believe in – we offer a few suggestions below. We strongly encourage you to write to your elected officials at city, county, state and federal levels (and… VOTE!).
Food and farming-related organizations to donate to:
- National Black Food & Justice Alliance
- Indigenous Seed Keepers Network
- Tiger Mountain Foundation
- Black Food Sovereignty Coalition
- Rethink Food NYC
- Farming While Black by Leah Penniman
- An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
- Decolonize your Diet by Catrióna Rueda Esquibel and Luz Calvo
- The Pueblo Food Experience by Roxanne Swentzell
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
- Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
- This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work by Tiffany Jewell
Documents with even more resources:
- What to Do – an extensive list of resources including petitions to sign, organizations to donate to, black speakers and scholars to listen to, representatives to contact, readings, black-owned businesses to support, and more.
- Anti-Racism Resources – a great resource specifically for white people and parents to learn more about racism, including books, podcasts, articles, film and TV series to watch, and organizations to follow.
Finally, we’d like to continue to highlight black voices in the grow food community. Here are a few of our favorite Urban Farm Podcast episodes that amplify our black community members:
- Episode 526: Darren Chapman on Inner City Urban Farming
- Episode 433: Rob Horton on Food Sensitive Communities
- Episode 414: Leah Penniman on Liberating the Land
- Episode 406: Nike Forte on Farming for the Under-served
- Episode 354: James Ross on the Value of Community Gardens
- Episode 381: Elia Martinez on Indoor Farming Without Barriers
- Episode 299: Joy Stephenson-Laws on Nutrition with Fruits & Vegetables
- Episode 181: Quita Jackson on Thrifty Self-Sufficiency
- Episode 46: Ira Wallace on Seed Saving
- Episode 380: Derex Zellars on Plant and Soil Health
- Episode 410: Lloyd Hardrick on Keeping Urban Bees
- Episode 520: Quilen Blackwell on Urban Flower Farms
- Episode 465: Bobby Wilson on Five Acres in Atlanta
- Episode 430: Lee Perry on Fleet Farming
We recognize that we have a lot more to learn, and a lot of work to do for people of color in our community and across the USA. We are committed to continuing to educate ourselves and speaking out against violence and systemic oppression of people of color and indigenous people. We hope that this moment in history will mobilize us as a society to implement some overdue changes to combat the racism that is so deeply embedded in our country’s roots.
We are starting right here, right now, where we can make the most difference – with our food-growing community. Will you join us?
Greg Peterson, Founder
Janis Norton, General Manager
Tayler, Operation & Communications Manager
And on behalf The Urban Farm Team