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Tuesday, May 24, 2022 - 11:00am

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the Department is investing $770 million to help create new and better market opportunities (PDF, 366 KB) for rural businesses and people in 36 states and Puerto Rico. The investments include $640 million for 122 projects to help people living in socially vulnerable communities.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 - 10:40am

USDA wishes you a happy National Asparagus Day! Americans consume over 500 million pounds of asparagus each year, and 80-90% of that is imported, mainly from Mexico and Peru. While domestic production continues to decline year-by-year, per capita consumption is growing and U.S. growers still produce 60-70 million pounds per year, mostly in Michigan, California, and Washington.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 - 9:09am

There’s nothing better than gathering around the grill to prepare a good meal. Don’t forget the rules of food safety this grilling season.

Thursday, May 19, 2022 - 4:00pm

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2022 – Today, President Joe Biden announced his intent to appoint two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regional positions, including one Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director and one Rural Development (RD) State Director.

“I am thrilled we continue to add state directors to be the face of USDA programs in rural and farm communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to building a better America, and these state directors are critical to accomplishing that.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2022 - 7:00pm

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022 – “We know that this situation is causing stress and anxiety for many families across the country and President Biden has said that this administration will do everything in its power to ensure babies and families have access to the formula that they need. As the President directed, the Department of Agriculture will immediately begin coordinating with the Department of Defense and expand its coordination with our Health and Human Services counterparts to get safe formula on store shelves as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022 - 10:00am

We stand with our neighbors in Buffalo as we collectively grieve the lives lost and process the horror of Saturday’s mass shooting by a white supremacist targeting Black residents while they shopped at a neighborhood grocery store.

Please consider sharing this media advisory, co-created by Food For the Spirit and other Black-led organizations in New York State, and direct your support to the Black-led organizations feeding the community directly.

Change can only happen with our collective efforts.

In solidarity,

Anu Rangarajan


Director of the Cornell Small Farms Program

Buffalo Food Justice Advocates and Partners Call for End to White Supremacy and Anti-Blackness Intentional and systemic racism and historic disinvestment in Black communities has led to the circumstances of the tragic white-supremacist terrorist attack that left ten people dead and three wounded at a neighborhood grocery store on Saturday

No one should lose their lives while shopping for food.

The recent mass shooting in Buffalo happened in a grocery store in East Buffalo. Because of the history of redlining and ongoing disinvestment in East Buffalo, there are very few grocery stores, leading many Black residents to rely on one neighborhood grocery store for their day-to-day needs. Reliance on the neighborhood grocery stores is especially critical for individuals without cars and the elderly. In a recent household food survey of East Buffalo by a coalition of BFEN partners, 42% of respondents reported food insecurity, and 45% of those who are food insecure do not own any vehicles. Yesterday’s terrorist attack at that one grocery store most certainly highlights the importance of the work that many Buffalo residents and Buffalo Food Equity Networks members have been doing to fight food apartheid.

The root problem in Buffalo – and Buffalo’s food system – is white supremacy. We are calling on policy makers and society at large to retain focus on the institutional conditions that enabled the perpetrator to kill people in a Black neighborhood.

The Buffalo Food Equity Network (BFEN) is made up of over 100 people of color, predominantly Black folks who are East Buffalo residents, committed to addressing systemic racism in the food system in Buffalo and Western New York. BFEN members are growing food on urban farms and gardens; they are teaching people how to grow their own food at home; they are educating the public about the existence of racism in the food system; they are educating people on how racism in the food system impacts communities of color; they are advocating for more grocery stores in their communities; and they are advocating for increased investment in all these community-led activities and initiatives. We understand better than most the need for a healthier and equitable food environment in Buffalo. That said, Black neighborhoods need to be protected from acute violence toward Black people – and from chronic violence resulting from food apartheid. We need both things, and we need them now.

We are calling on policy makers to implement policies that will end acute and chronic violence against Black people. We are calling on policy makers and everyone to invest in Black communities and Black-led initiatives (see list in Buffalo). We are calling on people to exert pressure on elected officials and everyone in their sphere of influence to demand an end to extreme and chronic violence toward Black people.

The following quotes from Buffalo Food Equity Network founders, members, and partners are in alphabetical order by last name:

Ras Jomo Akono, CEO, ProJect Access to AFreeKa Radio and Arts, said “I am deeply saddened by the terrorist attack on our community. Our families, friends, and neighbors have been traumatized from 1619 in this land. Our human rights have been abridged and we are pursuing Justice for our Ancestors – our past , present, and future. Our local, national, and international community is sending love and support. We demand Justice and Repair for the continued Maafa – or Great Tragedy – that this modern attack has augmented.”

Dennice Barr, Buffalo Food Equity Network member and President, Fruit Belt Advisory Council, said “After having to take time to just breathe and regroup I can respond and offer tribute first to the elders and loved ones who were senselessly slaughtered for no reason other than being Black people in public. The lovelies who had lived with honor and dignity were targeted by a ruthless racist with murder as his only intention for living. The shock and outrage of this community that has lived through every demeaning, systemic plan to make the lives of respectable Black people as difficult as can be, this community that has endured long term from redlining, to denying basic human services such as adequate stores to spend our dollars in, has been the barriers that we have climbed over and around and to witness this young white male be walked out and placed into a police vehicle is in itself a showing of the systemic pieces working as every Person of Color recognizes without doubt that my son, their son wouldn’t have made it out of that parking lot alive. Too much pain from too much history that can’t even be honored by too many people who keep those barriers in place daily, but we will continue to climb over and around the barriers and carry the truth within us regardless, because we know who and what we truly are.”

Dr. Gwendolyn Baxley, Buffalo Food Equity Network member, said “Unfortunately, the tragic massacre on Saturday is not an isolated, singular incident. It is important to contextualize what happened Saturday as part of broader implicit and explicit AntiBlackness in our society historically and currently. In all of our interconnected systems — education, housing, health, employment, food access, etc. — there have always been attacks on Black life and disdain for Blackness. Reckoning with this reality is crucial for considering any path forward.”

Allison DeHonney, Executive Director, Buffalo Go Green Inc., said “We must end band-aid type solutions to systemic problems. We must understand that access to healthy food options and equity in our health care system are basic human rights. If we do not have healthy food we will not live healthy people. Investment must be made in organizations and businesses that have a vested interest in seeing disenfranchised people have equality in all the systems that continue to thrive on the oppression of black and brown people. Resolutions to these systemic problems directed by Black and Brown leadership is imperative. We need a strong sustainable local food system and that means folks working in these spaces need access to land, buildings, resources and a say in where economic investment is directed in order to put in place solutions that the system has failed to implement.”

Rita Hubbard-Robinson, JD, CEO, NeuWater, LLC, said “We have been fighting for so long and not heard. The systemic racism that was finally seen by the nation during the COVID pandemic are laid bare at this moment. In a horrific moment defined by a heinous racist act of violence and death, lives were lost, and a lifeline for medicine, bill paying, groceries, and personal and household needs was stolen. We will never make sense of this loss, but if we can finally address the systemic issues around food that our community continues to face, this loss can be a catalyst for new hope. We need our supermarket back with a renewed focus on improving health. With the population health of the Black community, we need additional stores on the east side beyond the one store closed as a present crime scene. We need the voices of our community to be heard and respected. And we need to be believed that racism exists in our daily lives, both in institutions and interactions.”

Pamela James, Buffalo Food Equity Network member and Co-Founder, West Valley Farm and Camp Sites, said “Although racial hatred has been rooted within the United States of America since its conception, love and truth can drive hatred out.”

Della Miller, Community First, said “The health of a community is determined by the health of its people. Therefore we need a bigger and better supermarket to include community residents’ participation. The store must include a wider selection of fresh quality produce, health food section, a community kitchen or demo kitchen, better hours, brighter lights in the parking lot, wider access in and out of store entrance, space for community room, and the store must invest in the surrounding community. These are some of the recommendations to bring a quality supermarket and justice to this community.”

Stephanie Morningstar, Mohawk, Turtle Clan, Executive Director, Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust & Network, said “This is not a singular issue that’s disconnected from other mass acts of racialized hatred. This tragedy is the symptom of an interlocking system of oppressions that was built to systematically exclude and oppress Black folks and people of color from health and well-being, community wealth, and joy. Self-determination and dismantling systemic oppression are the only cures to ending the epidemic of White Supremacy in the systems that control access to food, justice, education, and healthcare.”

Leah Penniman, Co-Founder of Soul Fire Farm and Author of Farming While Black, said “It is a moral outrage that the single most sacred and fundamental human duty – to feed our families – was exploited in this act of white supremacist terrorism. The colonial settler state has weaponized our access to food for over 400 years through land theft, chattel slavery, discriminatory lending, food apartheid, commodity rations, and corporate industrial food subsidies, among other acts of violence. Enough is enough. To free ourselves we must be able to feed ourselves.”

Dr. Samina Raja, Buffalo Food Equity Network member and Founder, UB Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab, said “Structural racism and violence toward Black communities perpetuates acute and chronic harm. The routine act of shopping ought not to be hazardous to life.”

Pamela Reese Smith, President of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) Rochester and Steering Committee Member, Black Farmers United NYS, said “After 400 years of repression there are still those who believe African Americans should not have citizenship in this country, even though our ancestors built it.”

Dr. Jared Strohl, Facilitator, Food for the Spirit, said “To stand in solidarity against white supremacy, we must support ongoing grassroots efforts happening in communities of color, particularly on the eastside of Buffalo where this tragedy occurred. Rather than white supremacy, it is time for white accountability–accountability to Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color in the ongoing fight against food apartheid and other forms of racial inequality.”

Jaime Swygert, Community Activist and Founder, The Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion, said “The fact that this disgusting, terroristic, evil act of violence took place in a grocery store is no coincidence. Access to food has been weaponized throughout history. From early crop burning and well poisoning, to present day food apartheid. Black people have been vocalizing the fact that we are targets of white supremacists who view us as sub-humans, only to be told, racism no longer exists and we need to stop making color an issue. Yes, donations and food distributions are a helpful immediate response, but it is time to get to the root of the problem. We will continue our work to empower and educate folks in our community on food related issues as a vehicle to liberation. As the community begins the healing process, it is important to honor this loss of precious lives and not lose momentum. Racism exists. This must be acknowledged as fact and the indoctrination of hate must be eradicated.”

Gail V Wells, Founder, Founder, Buffalo Freedom Gardens, Member, Buffalo Food Equity Network and Member, Black Farmers United NYS, said: “The time has come for a serious conversation regarding reparations. My ancestors were stolen and kidnapped and forced to labor for over 400 years. After building America we were promised 40 acres and a mule, yet that debt has never been paid! As a result of white nationalism and supremacy our communities have been burned, our lives have been violently taken, our wealth has been stymied, and our humanity has been denied. How long do we have to wait for justice? The time for reparations is now!”

Rebekah Williams, Co-Founder, Food for the Spirit and the Buffalo Food Equity Network, said “There is not just one solution to the issues of racism and food apartheid in Buffalo. There needs to be policies created to address issues of historic disinvestment and racism in the food system. There needs to be increased investment in food organizations and initiatives led by people of color across the board, and there needs to be more education about systemic anti-Black racism throughout the United States and in our local communities.”

Alexander Wright, Founder, African Heritage Food Co-op and Blegacy Farms, said: “The attack was a physical manifestation of a problematic system. We have to take a hard look at everything and be honest about the racial bias inherent in the system, from funding, to licensing, to lending. And we, the community, must lead these efforts supported by allies and funding sources.”

“The truth is that movements are comprised of many organizations and individuals taking risks, demonstrating leadership, and contributing ideas and work. The media has a role in telling this truth,” from Soul Fire Farm’s Beyond Heroes Media Guide: A Guide for the Media A Soul Fire Farm Guide to Accurate Reporting on Social Justice Work.


For more information about the Buffalo Food Equity Network, visit bit.ly/bflofoodequity-faqs or contact Rebekah@foodforthespirit.org.

Founded in 2018, Food for the Spirit is the convener of the Buffalo Food Equity Network, a movement for Western New York’s new food economy led by communities of color, for communities of color. Anyone can join the network if they identify as a person of color. Serving people and communities in Buffalo, Western New York, the Finger Lakes, and beyond, Food for the Spirit’s mission is to use the arts and creative facilitation to bring about racial healing, ecological justice, and equitable food systems.

The post A Call to Stand in Solidarity with Buffalo Food Justice Advocates and Partners appeared first on Cornell Small Farms.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022 - 10:00am

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2022 – As summertime brings families and friends together for outdoor celebrations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants to make sure your summer festivities are food safe. Whether you’re grilling burgers, camping, or having a picnic, everyone should always remember to practice proper handwashing and use a food thermometer.

Monday, May 16, 2022 - 11:30am

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that commodity and specialty crop producers impacted by natural disaster events in 2020 and 2021 will soon begin receiving emergency relief payments totaling approximately $6 billion through the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) new Emergency Relief Program (ERP) to offset crop yield and value losses.

Monday, May 16, 2022 - 10:00am

Productores principiantes Latinx que forman parte del curso en español de Planificación de Granjas, La Nueva Siembra, que desarrolla GrowNYC, se reunieron en el Centro de Agricultura de Chester, NY para aprender sobre acceso a la tierra, a capital para agricultores y conocer experiencias de productores Latinx.

Productores de especies menores, abejas, vegetales, entre otros rubros escucharon las diferentes ponencias de los facilitadores invitados de varias instituciones, incluida la capacitación en español de Cornell Small Farms Program en gestión financiera agrícola a través de nuestro proyecto Futuro en Ag. Luego de las ponencias se procedió a realizar una gira de campo.

Participantes del curso Planificación de Granjas “La Nueva Siembra”  visitan  Grandpa Farm, Chester, NY durante el evento. Fotografía cortesía de Christian Aponte / GrowNYC


La demostración de campo se realizó en Grandpa Farm, ubicada en el  Centro de Agricultura de Chester, Chester, NY, donde se observó la experiencia y conocimiento desde la producción de plántulas, siembra, cosecha y empaque. Grandpa Farm tiene un sistema de producción combinado entre campo abierto, túneles altos y bajos e invernaderos que le facilita las ventas durante todo el año. Además, los productores explicaron el transporte y distribución de sus productos y el apoyo de GrowNYC en los mercados verdes de NYC.

Productores Principiantes y Aspirantes de la Séptima Clase de la Nueva Siembra. Fotografía cortesía de Christian Aponte / GrowNYC

“Si a usted le gusta hacer esto entonces va a disfrutar ser agricultor” dijo Guillerma Trujillo, una de las dueñas mientras señalaba el fruto de su trabajo y el de su familia. Los participantes preguntaron a los dueños de Grandpa que les motivó a convertirse en productores e iniciar la finca, y la respuesta fue “No dejar de soñar, trabajar duro y porque ya no queríamos dejar solos a nuestros hijos, queríamos más tiempo con ellos” contestó Trujillo.

Luego de 3 años desde su creación, Grandpa Farm continúa rentando tierra en el mismo centro y ha incrementado el área de producción y la diversificación de cultivos, y su participación en los mercados. Durante el evento y la demostración de la finca, los participantes estaban motivados al conocer la experiencia de productores Latinx principiantes que ahora está logrando sus objetivos de negocio familiar en la producción agrícola.

Los participantes mostraron gratitud por GrowNYC y los otros programas que presentaron en el evento. Muchos participantes mencionaron que esperan desarrollar sus habilidades para tener éxito en sus negocios agrícolas. El desarrollo de habilidades para el manejo financiero agrícola fue uno de los intereses de los participantes de este evento,  Small Farms Program en colaboración con GrowNYC continuará apoyando agricultores Latinx del Estado de Nueva York para alcanzar sus objetivos empresariales agrícolas.



Latinx Farmers Join “La Nueva Siembra” Spanish-First Training on Access to Land and Capital

Aspiring and beginner Latinx farmers of GrowNYC‘s Spanish-language Farm Planning Course, La Nueva Siembra, gathered at the Chester Agricultural Center last weekend to learn about access to land and capital from the experiences of Latinx beginner farmers and agricultural service providers.

Producers of small livestock, bees, vegetables, and other small farm businesses listened to the presentations by invited facilitators from various institutions, including the Cornell Small Farms Program’s own training in Spanish for Latinx farmers in farm financial management through our Futuro en Ag project.

Participants in “La Nueva Siembra” visit Grandpa Farm, Chester, NY. Christian Aponte / GrowNYC

The presentations were followed up with a field demonstration at Grandpa Farm, located at the Agricultural Center in Chester, NY, where the experience and knowledge from seedling, planting, harvesting, and packing was observed. Grandpa Farm has a combined production system of open fields, high and low tunnels, and greenhouses to facilitate year-round production and marketing. The farmer-owners also shared how their products are transported and distributed with the support of  GrowNYC’s at the NY Greenmarkets.

Beginning and aspiring Latinx farmers gathered for “La Nueva Siembra” course. Christian Aponte / GrowNYC

“If this is something you like to do then you will enjoy being a farmer,” one of the farm owners, Guillerma Trujillo, said as she pointed to the fruits of her work and her family’s efforts. Participants asked the owners what motivated them to become farmers and create Grandpa farm. Trujillo answered: “To not stop dreaming, to work hard and because we didn’t want to leave our children alone anymore, we wanted more time with them.” Three years after its creation, Grandpa Farm continues to rent land in the center and has increased its production area, crop diversification, and market. During the event and the farm demonstration, participants were motivated to learn about the experience of beginner Latinx farmers who are now achieving their family farm business goals.

The participants expressed their gratitude for GrowNYC among other programs who presented during this event. Many mentioned looking forward to developing their skills to succeed in their farm businesses. The building of farm financial management skills was one of the areas of interest for the participants of this event. The Small Farms Program in collaboration with GrowNYC will continue to support Latinx farmers in New York State to achieve their farming business goals.

The post Productores Latinx de “La Nueva Siembra” Se Reunen Para Capacitación Sobre Acceso a Tierra y Capital appeared first on Cornell Small Farms.

Monday, May 16, 2022 - 9:27am

Do you enjoy exploring food from countries around the world? Celebrating cultural traditions through food is a great way to connect with people from various communities and learn about their heritage. It is also a way to appreciate your own cultural roots! Discover simple ways to enjoy three cultural foods and see what vitamins and minerals they contain using FoodData Central from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.


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