24 LGBTQ+ Farms and Organizations Celebrating Community Through Food and Agriculture
By Danielle Nierenberg and Gabby Lozano
Throughout the United States and around the world, millions of people gather in June for Pride Month, a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and honor their contributions to the world.
Over the past several years, the U.S. has made significant strides toward equality for people of all genders and sexualities, with landmarks such as the legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 and the election of Danica Roem, Virginia's first openly transgender candidate, in 2017. And on June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Despite this progress, LGBTQ+ people continue to experience discrimination that negatively impacts their physical and mental wellbeing. Transgender and gender-nonconforming people in the U.S., particularly Black transgender women, remain at increased risk of fatal violence and sexual assault. Studies also show that LGBTQ+-identifying folks—especially people of color—face higher rates of food insecurity than their straight and cisgender counterparts. And while many LGBTQ+ adults in the U.S. have access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), some food banks and pantries have denied services to people due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In the face of this discrimination, LGBTQ+ community leaders around the globe continue to fight for lasting change. In honor of Pride Month, Food Tank is highlighting collectives, farms, and other organizations that are working to strengthen LGBTQ+ representation in the food system and give back to their communities.
1. Chaseholm Farm, Pine Plains, New York
Located in New York's Hudson Valley, Chaseholm Farm is a third-generation operation run by siblings Rory and Sarah Chase. While Rory oversees the creamery and cheesemaking operations, Sarah manages the farm and livestock. With her wife, nutrition therapist Jordan Schmidt, Sarah achieved Organic certification for the farm and moved to holistic management practices, including 100 percent grass feeding.
2. Cuir Kitchen Brigade, New York City
Launched after Hurricane María hit Puerto Rico in 2017, Cuir Kitchen Brigade is a collective that works in solidarity with people impacted by climate change, oppressed by governments, and marginalized due to sexuality and gender identity. Cuir Kitchen Brigade provides food relief on a mutual aid model, runs solidarity and ancestral learning trips to Latin America, and hosts workshops on canning and fermentation to help queer, transgender, Black people, Indigenous communities, and people of color be more resilient to climate disasters.
3. Cultivating Change Foundation, San Francisco
Through relationship-building events, partnerships, and discussions, Cultivating Change Foundation seeks to create a global network of LGBTQ+ agriculturists and their allies. Using advocacy and education, the foundation provides resources and materials to help LGBTQ+ farmers feel empowered and elevated within their communities and professional fields. In June, the Foundation typically holds a three-day global agriculture conference in Des Moines, Iowa, to bring together LGBTQ+ agricultural workers, diversity professionals, and other experts working toward a more equitable food system.
4. Diaspora Co., Oakland, California, and Mumbai, India
Owned and managed by self-identifying queer women of color, Diaspora Co. is an organic spice business working to decolonize commodity crops from India, while uplifting small farmers. Diaspora Co. reduces the spice supply chain to only involve itself, small farmers, and the consumer. Doing so allows small farmers to earn more money and maintain control over the crops they grow. The company also works with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research to identify additional ways they can support farmers working with Diaspora Co.
5. Fierte Agricolé, Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec
Fierte Agricolé is a nonprofit organization that works to unite LGBTQ+ people in agriculture. Through focus groups, the organization provides a safe space for individuals to discuss their experiences as LGBTQ+ farmers. The organization also works with stakeholders and other professionals to raise awareness on sexuality, gender identity diversity, and challenges that LGBTQ+ people in agriculture may face.
6. Finca Morada, North Miami, Florida
Finca Morada is a cooperative ½-acre permaculture farm in North Miami, Florida, that is organized around the concept of "wild culture." They define "wild culture" in opposition to consumer culture, and in favor of interdependence with nature and traditional, Indigenous land management. "At our heart-center is environmental, racial, LGBTQ, gender, social, & food justice, inspired by nature's magic, radical interdependence & wild diversity," they write. Finca Morada means "purple farm" in Spanish, and the farm uses purple as a way to honor the land's previous owner and as a symbol of diversity, the royalty of nature, and the fluidity of binaries between red and blue.
7. GayFarmer, Germany
GayFarmer is a professional association made up of over 500 individuals from the LGBTQ+ community who work in professions such as agriculture. The association is helping individuals in green sectors establish professional connections with corporations and other workers. GayFarmer also organizes specialized groups for people of specific LGBTQ+ identities to provide additional support for members. GayFarmer's website also promotes members' products to help them gain visibility in the marketplace.
8. Homestead Ranch, Oskaloosa, Kansas
Courtney Skeeba and her partner, Denise Whitesides, operate Homestead Ranch, a small family farm located in Oskaloosa, Kansas, that specializes in sustainable goat farming. The farm strives to reduce waste, nurture the land, and educate consumers on the source of their food. The farm sells goat milk-based shampoo, soap, and other body products online, at local farmers markets, and boutiques.
9. Hudson Valley Seed Company, Accord, New York
In 2004, Ken Greene was working as a librarian when he started the country's first seed library, as a way to support local food systems. A few years later, his seed library became the Hudson Valley Seed Company, which he launched with his partner, Doug Mueller. They focus on heirloom, local, and organic seeds, and were one of the first companies to sign the Open Source Seed Initiative. Every year, the Hudson Valley Seed Company also commissions contemporary artists to design storytelling-oriented "art packs" for their seed varieties.
10. Humble Hands Harvest, Decorah, Iowa
Humble Hands Harvest operates a small organic farm in Iowa using regenerative practices to grow organic vegetables. To support the LGBTQ+ farming community, the farm holds the Queer Farmer Convergence, an annual event uniting LGBTQ+ farmers to reduce the isolation felt by LGBTQ+ farmers and to combat racist and capitalist practices in agriculture. Additionally, the farm created the Queer Farmer Network to revolutionize the agriculture industry and rural community.
11. Interlocking Roots, United States
Interlocking Roots is a network of self-identifying queer and transgender Black and Indigenous people of color (QT*BIPoC) who work as chefs, educators, farmers, and food justice advocates. The network organizes gatherings and uses digital platforms, like Instagram, to create safe spaces for QT*BIPoC people to connect. Interlocking Roots is currently working on a podcast to share stories about QT*BIPoC folks who are using food and agriculture to decolonize the agri-food industry.
12. Lesbian Natural Resources, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Established in 1991, Lesbian Natural Resources (LNR) assists lesbians interested in maintaining community land and preserving rural ecosystems. LNR offers a variety of programs to combat food insecurity and racism and help members of their community access land. They also connect members to grants to help them sustain their work.
13. Mill Creek Farm, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Johanna Rosen and her partner, Jade Walker, run Mill Creek Farm. This educational farm and environmental center provides low-cost, chemical-free produce to local communities and people of color in need of assistance. Mill Creek Farm integrates sustainable practices, like crop rotation and companion planting. The farm also engages with the local community by hosting after-school gardening and cooking clubs, field trips, and internships and fellowships to help local youth.
14. Moxie Ridge, Fort Edward, New York
Moxie Ridge is a farm and creamery in northeast New York State that specializes in pork, fully free-range chicken and eggs, and a selection of fresh and ripened goat cheeses from goats milked by hand. Moxie Ridge is run by Lee Hennessy, who came out as transgender last year and is committed to respecting land by using traditional management practices. On the farm, he accomplishes brush clearing with the help of the goats, pastures are "mowed" by grazing horses and sheep, and pigs act as tillers and root removers.
15. The Okra Project, United States
The Okra Project is a collective addressing food insecurity within the Black transgender community. The collective delivers healthy and culturally appropriate meals prepared by Black transgender chefs to Black transgender people experiencing food insecurity. To lend support globally, the Okra Project developed the International Grocery Fund, which provides US$40 grants to Black transgender people around the world who are food insecure. The Okra Project also established the Byokra series, monthly wellness sessions for Black transgender people.
16. Queer Farmer Collective, Denver, Colorado
Queer Farmer Collective is a community organization working to engage the LGBTQ+ community in agriculture, while removing barriers that prevent LBGTQ+ people from participating. Using organized events, the organization hopes to inspire its network to grow their own food and uses donations to provide financial support to various farmers. Queer Farmer Collective also shares resources and advice for their farmers on its Facebook page.
17. Rainbow Chard Collective, Canada
The Rainbow Chard Collective is an organization made up of farmers, food activists, and students working to create awareness for LGBTQ+ farmers and promote sustainable agriculture. The Rainbow Chard Collective holds events and workshops, conducts research on sustainable living, and mentors youth individuals by leading workshops at camps. The Collective also advocates for increased government support for small farmers.
18. Rise and Root Farm, Chester, New York
Karen Washington, a Black farmer and community activist, wants to build a different agricultural narrative, inclusive of all races, genders, and sexualities. Her farm, Rise and Root Farm, is ¾-owned by people in the LGBTQ+ community. Washington created Rise and Root Farm to be a place of healing for diverse and marginalized communities — particularly important today, as black farmers work to call attention to not only their own contributions to the modern food system but also the impact of the slave trade on the development of global food chains.
19. Rock and Steady Farm and Flowers, Millerton, New York
The self-identifying queer- and women-owned cooperative Rock Steady Farm & Flowers uses sustainable agricultural practices and community partnerships to advocate for marginalized communities in the food system. The farm provides food to food pantries, social justice nonprofits, and local businesses, like florists and restaurants. The organization also partners with LGBTQ+ resource centers to increase healthy food access for and educate youth about agriculture.
20. Sweet Digz Farm, Richmond, British Columbia
Kareno Hawbolt and her partner, Kimi Hendess, founded and operate Sweet Digz Farm in Richmond, Canada, where they strive to implement sustainable farming methods to grow vegetables and herbs. Sweet Digz partners with other local farms to expand their market and operates a community supported agriculture (CSA) program. Sweet Digz also manages the SHAREit Forward Fund, an initiative which provides fresh produce to local neighbors in need.
21. TransGenerational Farm, New York City area
Founded and operated by Jayne Henson, a transgender woman, the TransGenerational Farm near New York City is using agriculture to connect the LGBTQ+ community and educate them on the agri-food industry. The farm employs regenerative practices, like reusable landscape fabric, and operates a CSA program. TransGenerational Farm is currently in the process of establishing a CSA scholarship program for individuals who want to join the CSA program, but are financially unable to do so.
22. Truelove Seeds, Philadelphia
Truelove Seeds is a Philadelphia-based seed company that partners with over 20 urban and small-scale rural farms to produce rare, open pollinated, and culturally important seeds. Several staff members and growers Truelove works with identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. Truelove Seeds aims to support community food sovereignty, Indigenous cultures, and regenerative agriculture by including growers as integral decision-makers for seed-keeping.
23. Urban Oasis Project, Miami
The Urban Oasis Project works to increase access to local, fresh food in South Florida. The organization runs farmers markets, provides free Food Justice Veggie Boxes to families in need, plants gardens, and more. President Art Friedrich, who identifies as a queer man, told Food Tank that LGBTQ+ identity is important to his work; at times 40 percent of the stalls at their main farmers market are run by LGBTQ+ vendors, many of whom are also people of color.
24. Westside Urban Gardens, Los Angeles, CaliforniaNate Looney, a Black transgender farmer and veteran, is the founder and CEO of Westside Urban Gardens, an urban agricultural start-up farm located in Los Angeles, California. Westside Urban Gardens helps members of the LGBTQ+ community by hiring them and teaching viable skills for future employment. Through the use of hydroponic cultivation and aquaponics, the farm uses approximately 90 percent less water than soil-based outdoor farms.
By Matthew J. Landry and Heather Eicher-Miller
When university presidents were surveyed in spring of 2020 about what they felt were the most pressing concerns of COVID-19, college students going hungry didn't rank very high.
Why It Matters<p>This is not just a matter of growling stomachs. This is a straight-up education and health issue.</p><p>When students don't really know if they'll be able to get enough to eat, it can lead to a series of problems that make it harder to stay in school. For instance, it can affect <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1359105318783028" target="_blank">academic performance</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-6943-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">sleep quality</a>. It can also lead to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105318783028" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">poor mental and physical health</a> outcomes for college students.</p><p>Food insecurity can also result in disrupted eating patterns if there is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6627945/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">not enough food or the variety</a> or <a href="https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-019-6943-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">quality of what someone eats</a> is low.</p>
Campus Food Pantries<p>Previous strategies by <a href="https://www.gao.gov/assets/700/696254.pdf" target="_blank">colleges and universities</a> to fight hunger in their student bodies have varied widely. They include campus food pantries, emergency cash assistance and nutrition education through noncredit classes or workshopse.</p><p>These strategies were put to the test during the spring 2020 semester, when nearly <a href="https://hope4college.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Hopecenter_RealCollegeDuringthePandemic.pdf" target="_blank">three in five students</a> said they had trouble meeting their own basic needs during the pandemic.</p><p>College food pantries saw <a href="https://www.utrgv.edu/newsroom/2020/05/01-utrgv-student-food-pantry-seeing-recent-increase-in-demand-during-covid-19.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">big increases</a> in demand. Others said they <a href="https://www.theprospectordaily.com/2020/09/22/uteps-food-pantry-is-running-out-of-food/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">were getting less donated food</a>. This made it even harder to meet the rising food needs of students.</p><p>Campus food pantries largely rely on local or regional food banks, which have been dealing with <a href="https://www.indystar.com/story/news/local/2020/10/04/indiana-food-banks-call-more-food-stamps-meet-publics-need/3523683001/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">greater demand</a> than they are able to meet during the pandemic.</p><p>The many students who are attending college remotely will, of course, have less access to campus resources like food pantries.</p>
Federal Help<p>Other potential ways to get more food are government programs like the <a href="https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/recipient/eligibility" target="_blank">Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program</a>, known as SNAP. Yet the majority of able-bodied students are not eligible. Long-standing restrictions, like the <a href="https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/students" target="_blank">college SNAP rule</a>, prevent full-time students from receiving these benefits.</p><p>Such regulatory hurdles were created under the assumption that most students can rely on their parents to get enough to eat. However, college students have vastly different levels of financial support. Some students can rely on their parents for everything and others cannot rely on their parents for anything.</p><p>Decreased reliance on parental financial support is <a href="https://ir.library.louisville.edu/jsfa/vol47/iss3/5/" target="_blank">especially common</a> for first-generation students and students of color, who now make up <a href="https://1xfsu31b52d33idlp13twtos-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Race-and-Ethnicity-in-Higher-Education.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">45% of enrolled college students</a>.</p><p>Under normal circumstances, many college students might rely on part-time jobs to pay for their food.</p>
Short-Term Solutions<p>Universities and colleges can make it a priority to ensure students are aware of all available campus resources and services. They can also potentially help students apply for federal assistance benefits.</p><p>Campus food pantries are not a fully effective and efficacious solution for the scale of college food insecurity, but they can be a good interim solution to increase access to food for students.</p><p>Campuses without food pantries can start one, making use of resources the <a href="https://cufba.org/resources/" target="_blank">College and University Food Bank Alliance</a> provides. Schools with food pantries can try to get them to <a href="https://www.swipehunger.org/5campuspantry/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reach more students</a>.</p><p>Universities and colleges can also lean on one another for support. The <a href="http://wp.auburn.edu/endchildhungeral/alabama-campus-coalition-for-basic-needs/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Alabama Campus Coalition for Basic Needs</a> is a great example of this. It brings together 10 universities across the state of Alabama collectively working to address student food insecurity.</p>
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By Dr. Kate Raynes-Goldie
Of all the plastic we've ever produced, only 9% has been recycled. So what happened to all that plastic you've put in the recycling bin over the years?
Triangle of Mistruths<p>The myth created around plastic recycling has been one of simplicity. We look for the familiar triangle arrows, then pop the waste in the recycling bin so it can be reused.</p><p>But the true purpose of those triangles has been misunderstood by the general public ever since their invention in the 1980s.</p><p>These triangles were actually created by the plastics industry and, according to a report provided to them in July 1993, <a href="https://www.npr.org/transcripts/912150085" target="_blank">were creating "unrealistic expectations"</a> about what could be recycled. But they decided to keep using the codes.</p><p>Which is why many people still believe that these triangular symbols (also known as a <a href="https://sustainablepackaging.org/101-resin-identification-codes/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">resin identifier code</a> or RIC) means something is recyclable.</p><p>But according to the American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM) – which controls the RIC system – the numbered triangles "<a href="https://www.astm.org/Standards/D7611.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">are not recycle codes</a>." In fact, they weren't created for the general public at all. They were made for the post-consumer plastic industry.</p><p>In other words, the symbols make it easier to sort the different types of plastics, some of which cannot be recycled – <a href="https://www.ecobin.com.au/understand-recycling-codes/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">depending on the recycling facility</a>.</p><p>"Unfortunately, just placing your plastic into the recycling bin doesn't mean it will get recycled," says Lara Camilla Pinho. She is an architect and lecturer at the UWA School of Design who is researching novel uses of plastic waste.</p><p>"The recycling system is complicated and often dictated by market demand. Not all plastic is recyclable. We cannot recycle plastic bags or straws for example."</p>
Behind the Scenes<p>So, what makes recycling plastics so difficult?</p><p>"Essentially, there are two types of plastics – thermoplastics and thermosets. While thermoplastics can be re-melted and re-molded, thermosets contain cross-linked polymers that cannot be separated meaning they cannot be recycled," says Lara.</p><p>"Even thermoplastics have a limit to the amount of times we can recycle them, as each time they are recycled they downgrade in quality."</p><p>Even when plastics are recyclable, it is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/13/war-on-plastic-waste-faces-setback-as-cost-of-recycled-material-soars" target="_blank">often more costly</a> than simply making new plastics.</p>
Sugar, Seaweed and Mushrooms<p>If the conventional recycling system isn't working, what else can we do with all the plastic we've created?</p><p>Lara is looking for ways to add value to recycled plastics such as using it in the design and development of architectural products. She hopes to use these architectural products to help underserved communities that are disproportionately affected by plastic waste.</p><p>In addition to recycling, we also need to find ways to reduce our use of virgin petroleum-based plastics.</p><p>Bioplastic is one such product that has been getting a lot of hype over the last few years. And although they're better than petroleum-based plastics, bioplastics also come with their own <a href="https://phys.org/news/2017-12-truth-bioplastics.html" target="_blank">set of challenges</a>.</p><p>"There are already a lot of bio-based alternatives to plastic, such as bagasse – a byproduct of sugar cane processing," says Lara.</p><p><a href="https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-mycelium-revolution-is-upon-us/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mycelium</a>, a type of fungi we most often associate with mushrooms, are also providing an interesting plastic alternative.</p><p>"In the field of architecture, mycelium is starting to be used as an alternative to plastic insulation, but also as compostable packaging and bricks," says Lara.</p><p>"The bricks take around five days to make and are strong, durable, water resistant and compostable at the end of their use."</p><p><a href="https://www.arup.com/news-and-events/hyfi-reinvents-the-brick" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hy-Fi Tower</a>, created by <a href="http://www.thelivingnewyork.com/living_about.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Living</a>, is an example of a building made from these bricks.</p><p>And finally, there's seaweed.</p><p>"[Seaweed is] cheap and can reproduce itself quickly without fertilizers. In architecture, there is use for seaweed as an alternative to plastic insulation but also as cladding," says Lara.</p>
More Money, More Problems<p>While all these alternatives are great, the main cause of our plastic dilemma is not scientific or technological, but economic.</p><p>As long as it remains <a href="https://engineering.mit.edu/engage/ask-an-engineer/why-is-it-cheaper-to-make-new-plastic-bottles-than-to-recycle-old-ones/" target="_blank">cheaper to create new plastics</a> from fossil fuels rather than from bioplastics or from recycling, we're going to be stuck with plastic garbage islands floating in our oceans.</p><p>The true cost to our health and our environment has yet to be included in the equation. But once it is, maybe that is when the real shift will happen.</p>
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